“The Heart of Man Devises His Way…”

“…but Yahweh determines his step” (Prov 16:9). We all make plans. We need to for many things in our lives and especially the most important things. Yet, an inordinate degree of planning can be born out of pride and desire for control over our lives.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

So, Ashley and I have planned our way. We have computed, received counsel, and prayed, and we desire to take the next step after CAPA and Malawi in a direction to be useful for God’s kingdom and the delight of seeing God expand His glory through Christ over the whole globe. Yet, we await our Lord’s sovereign pleasure in the (re)direction of our plans. We want to share our plans with you so that you can be praying for us as we begin to make our transition from Malawi back to the United States. Let me give you an overview in timeline form.

  • May 17: Board a plane to leave Malawi.
  • May 18: Arrive in the morning at LAX (desperately in need of coffee no doubt).
  • May 18-21 or 22: California fun! Visiting family, friends and Grace Church (we’ll be at Doulos!), hopefully going to the beach and Ikea!
  • May 21 or 22: Packing up our earthly belongings stored in LA in a moving truck.
  • May 23: Leaving LA and driving to Sacramento. We will be having a group dinner with our Sacramento family and friends, if you’re in the area we’d really love to see you!
  • May 24: Travel from Sacramento to Boise. Getting a night to visit with Ashley’s Grandma, sister, and brother-in-law.
  • May 25: Leave Boise and arrive in Spokane.
  • May 25-31st: Spokane week
  • June 1-July 31st (ish): Back to Boise! Chris is doing an internship at a church in the Boise area (Heritage Bible Church) so we will be there for the summer!
  • August 1st (ish): Back to Spokane! Classes at TMS begin at the beginning of August so we will be back in Spokane for me to start classes again.

Many of you already know, but for those who don’t, we are planning on moving back to my hometown of Spokane and my home church of Faith Bible Church which hosts a Master’s Seminary extension campus. There are several reasons that Ashley and I believe that moving back to Spokane is a good fit, but let me give you the top three.

  1. Continued training and mentorship by pastors and elders at FBC. The Lord has really reminded us that the primary qualifications for an elder-pastor are character (1 Tim 3, Titus 1), and we need mature men and women in our lives investing in us as we seek to grow in those character qualities (2 Tim 2:2). God has providentially provided an opportunity in our home church to not only continue mentoring relationships we have from the past but also to be able to continue with top-notch academic training from TMS.
  2. Opportunity to serve our home church. It is our desire to be in a place where we can be useful for Christ’s kingdom. This last year that was in Malawi at CAPA (the Lord really redirected our steps for this one!). This next year, after talking with good friends and leaders at FBC, we believe that we can be useful to our home church even as I continue to train and aim for vocational ministry in the future.
  3. Opportunity to eventually be elder-affirmed from FBC. Since FBC is our home church, we would desire to be affirmed in character and direction for any future full-time ministry the Lord would have us do. Moving back to Spokane affords the opportunity to be under the elder’s scrutiny and shepherding that we desire as we await the direction the Lord was have for us for future ministry.

As we make this transition, there are several things that you can be praying for


  • Safe travel
  • Finding employment back in Spokane
  • Health insurance for Ashley for Rheumatoid arthritis and other health issues
  • Finding a good living situation back in Spokane
  • Wisdom for how to keep partnering with CAPA in the future


  • Continued focus on CAPA and ending well here
  • Being useful and blessings to the CAPA team here
  • Hearts that are not anxious for the future but trusting the Lord’s provision and rejoicing in how He provides
  • Grace to keep encouraging the CAPA team even after being back in the States
  • Serving no matter where we’re at desiring to see Christ’s glory and not our own

 As we near the close of our time serving with CAPA, we can say with a whole heart that CAPA is one of the most exciting ministries that we have witnessed. It is exciting to see how the Lord is using the school to train pastors academically and at the heart level, and we know that that training will trickle down throughout the whole country and quite possibly even farther. It is our constant prayer that God would use CAPA to strengthen the witness of the true gospel of Jesus in this country. On CAPA’s behalf we would like to strongly and prayerfully ask you to consider partnering with CAPA prayerfully and financially. Here are some ways you can be doing both right now.


  • For students. Visit capa.prayformalawi.com to see the student profiles. Also like Central African Preaching Academy’s page on Facebook and see some of the student profiles there. This should give you good prompts for prayer.
  • For recruitment for MDiv students for this coming academic year.
  • For personnel: Beginning Hebrew instructor and administrative assistant.

Financial Needs

  • After we vacate our apartment, CAPA would like to hold it for the next folks who will be coming in August and serving like we did. Giving financially toward this need would be a huge blessing for CAPA. (About a $2000 need).
  • A new campus is being built closer to town that will house International Bible Fellowship and CAPA. Giving toward the building of this facility will provide a great facility for CAPA and IBF, providing a launching pad for much ministry in Lilongwe and Malawi as a whole.

If you are interested in giving to CAPA follow this link, and scroll to the bottom to donate.

Thank you all for your support and prayer! We hope to see many of you soon!

Malawi Needs Highlight: Faithful Translations (Plus a Personal Timeline Update)

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with goodwill, every day examining the Scriptures if these things may be so. Acts 17:11

This verse compares the Jews in Berea with the Jews of Thessalonica, both of whom Paul spoke the message of the Messiah suffering, dying, and rising from the dead realized in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 17:1-3). The Bereans are commended by God through the inspired pen of Luke for their testing Paul’s message by the Scriptures.  Even Jesus’ special emissary to the nations, the Apostle Paul, was subject to the scrutiny of the Scriptures! How much more the preacher who stands in the pulpit to deliver his message!

At CAPA, this is a key theme that is hammered on again and again. The authority is in the text; the preacher is the faithful herald of what God has said in the Scriptures. Ideally, the situation for the preacher should be just the same as it was for Paul in Berea. The congregation should have the Scriptures in their hands, following and examining whether the points the preacher is making are coming from the text itself.  The preacher can be said to be delivering an authoritative message only if that message is indeed contained in the Scriptures. John Piper puts this well in his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

We are simply pulling rank on people when we tell them and don’t show them from the text. This does not honor the Word of God or the work of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to rely on the Holy Spirit by saturating your preaching with the Word that he inspired. (p.47)

A recent incident highlighted the need in Malawi for the work of faithful Bible translations so that the congregation has the opportunity to see the preacher’s message in the pages of Scripture.

Recently, I asked Maya (a 3rd year MDiv student at CAPA, an intern at International Bible Fellowship, and a dear friend) to translate Psalm 90 for me from Chichewa (the most common of the many mother tongues for the various tribes in Malawi) into English. The standard Chichewa Bible available was translated from an English translation around 100 years ago. Above is a picture of the Chichewa Bible….Can you guess what book it’s from? As he translated for me, he not only wrestled to translate into English, but he struggled to understand the Chichewa itself. This incident opened his eyes and mine. He explained to me that this is why many Malawian preachers avoid preaching from the Old Testament, because they cannot understand the Scriptures contained there in their own language because of the poor and old translation work. And if the preacher (often more educated than his congregation) cannot understand the Bible in his mother tongue, what chance does the average Malawian have sitting in the congregation? How can he see that what the preacher is saying is truly God’s Word?

We know that God is in favor of people having the Scriptures in a language that they can clearly understand since the Old Testament in Jesus’ day had been translated into the common language of the day (Greek from the Hebrew and Aramaic), and Jesus and the Apostles often quote that translation as authoritative Scripture, the word of God. The implication for Malawi then is the need for translations, not just in Chichewa, but in many of the other languages that people have as their mother tongue in this country. These translations should come from the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic into translations that are readable by the common person. Why not just go from the English? Think of a faithful translation like a photocopy. Some aspects of the original will be lost in the translation process to English even though the translation is a faithful one. If now I take that translation (the photocopy) and then translate that into a different language (photocopying the photocopy), I’ve lost more information yet.

This work is not currently in process. But our heart’s desire at CAPA is that some of the fruit of training the men in the biblical languages will be faithful men who will work on this massive project for the sake of their nation. It cannot be simply a work that is done by foreign missionaries either. Our Malawian Dean of Students at CAPA, Gideon, says, the churches of Malawi will have to see the need for such translation work in order for it to be supported and accepted by the church in Malawi at large.

This is just one of the needs that the church in Malawi is facing and that CAPA is either directly or indirectly addressing. Join us in praying for God to use CAPA to address the need for translations for the sake of the church in Malawi!



In other news, we have set our target return date to return to the US. We plan to leave after the end of the CAPA school year (graduation happens on April 20th) the third week of May. This is less than four months away and will result in us being here a little over eleven months total. Please pray for several things:

  1. That we would be “all here” with servant hearts and would be useful to CAPA and the long-term team here.
  2. Pray for my replacement(s) (unknown as yet) to handle administrative, IT, and teaching (Hebrew) work.
  3. Pray for the construction of CAPA’s new campus to go ahead quickly and smoothly. The goal is for it to be ready by the beginning of the new academic year!
  4. Pray for wisdom for the team in discerning what the next steps forward for CAPA as a school should be.
  5. Pray for us as we anticipate facing some reverse culture shock returning to the US.
  6. Pray for the Lord’s leading regarding our future ministry and whether we should seek to do overseas pastoral training center work like this in the long-term.

We greatly appreciate your prayers and hearing from you! Drop us a line or call us up on Skype! You can comment below if you’d like to schedule to Skype with us and we will email you to set that up.

Lake Adventure Day!

We (by “we” I mean Chris and all the professors at CAPA) are gearing up for Module 3 that starts next Tuesday. It’s been a very busy few months for everyone here and the Kopp’s decided to take a “day off” and go to the lake (Lake Malawi) to celebrate Malawian Mother’s Day that happened last Sunday. Since Chris and I have been talking about going to the lake for months, we thought it would be fun to join them. So early yesterday the Kopp family, Ayres family, Jana, Rachael (Jana & Rachael are here to assist the Kopp’s and Ayres with homeschooling this year) and Chris and I packed up in three cars and headed to the lake.

It was a fun day with a lot of unforeseen lessons.

Lesson 1:

Always say yes to the lake. If someone invites us, we’re going. Even if they don’t invite us, we may try to join them anyways… It’s beautiful there! Absolutely beautiful. Soft sand, waves, sun, tropical flowers, palm trees. It’s getting hot here (in the 90s – with some humidity and no AC in any of our homes) so it was amazing to escape the heat and get into the water.


Lesson 2:

Everything is negotiable. We’re learning this more and more about Malawi but it was fun to see it in action as Matt Kopp and Jim Ayres negotiated prices for our lunch at the resort (whose beach we were using). We ended up with a discount for adults by just having the main course buffet without soup and dessert.

Lesson 3:

Always rub in spray on sunscreen. (Poor Chris! But don’t worry too much, it was just his shoulders and it’s already fading)

Lesson 4:

Always travel with friends with a bigger car than yours.

And tow ropes.


And positive attitudes.

Matt practicing his water skiing moves

We’re so glad we didn’t go the lake by ourselves all those times we talked about going!

(Matt Kopp towed our car home, Jim Ayres drove behind and helped us when the rope broke three times and helped us merge into long crazy spots of traffic)

Lesson 5:

A group of mzungu (white people) with car trouble is real entertainment.


Lesson 6:

Nissan Tiida’s (our car, basically a Nissan Versa) has a special tow hook that you can screw into the front of the car. After unsuccessfully searching for a place to loop the tow rope, Chris found the hook in the trunk (or “boot” as they call it here). Phew!

Lesson 7:

God is good even in hard things! We made it home safely and before dark, we have a car we can borrow and there is a car mechanic that is coming to our house today to look at the car and help us get it fixed. Things could have been a lot worse!


Please continue to pray for us! Pray that our car trouble would be able to fixed simply and quickly. Pray that the upcoming module would go well – that the professors would teach well and that the students would learn well. Pray that we would be able to endure the heat well. Pray for our hearts and attitudes to remain focused on the gospel in all we do here! And pray that we would know Christ more and more.

Thank you for continuing to read our blog! We appreciate you all!



9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I know people quote these verses all the time. I have pointed people and myself to them many a time as well. To embrace and live out their truth though is…painful.

I am convinced that one of the things God wants us to learn from this trip to Malawi is just how weak we are. It feels as though God is determined to expose with the full blazing light of His holiness, our inadequacies. I say “our” but I am most painfully aware of my own inadequacies, and that is what I will share a bit about.

Here are the categories of inadequacies that God has been exposing:


In pride and self-righteousness, I didn’t think I was as bad as I am. A new environment with new stresses and responsibilities and new people to work with and all sorts of gross selfishness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, self-reliance, lack of love, and unbelief come out. This junk was already there, but the new circumstances merely exposed what was already there.

Only Christ’s grace through the gospel, trusting that he was crushed under the infinite weight of God’s just wrath for my sin and that His righteousness is my righteousness and that He is the Treasure that is worth slaying the sin which clings so closely, only Christ’s power can overcome this weakness.

Need for Rest

It would be very, very easy to work 80 hours a week here on all that needs to be done and still have more left to do. It is also very, very easy for me to find my meaning and identity in the tasks themselves rather than being driven out of love for Christ. But that is just idolatry/self-reliance coated with a veneer of ministry. I don’t have enough time or energy. That is a reminder of my weakness and finitude and the unneedy, infinitely energetic God. Rest is a time to humble myself and remember that God is God and I am not. The Sabbath, while not a mandate for Christians as it was for those under the Old Covenant, is still a pattern that is a gift to man.

Lack of Knowledge/Skill

I usually like to think that I’m adaptable and can tackle any problem that comes my way….But I’ve never had to be a Hebrew teacher, administrative assistant, IT technician, facilities personnel, etc. before. There’s just a lot of stuff that comes about in a given day that I’ve never done before and don’t know how to do. I’ll I can do is pray for God’s help and try my best, trusting the Lord for the results.

Communicating Complex Material…with a Language Barrier

Hebrew is hard but glorious. What’s the best way to teach it to those who have a different mother tongue and worldview from you? I don’t know. Each lesson is an experiment to try something that will hopefully help them grasp the concepts better. The big question on my mind is “Will they use Hebrew for the future? Will they use it for their sermons? Will they cut straight the Word of God? How can I help them do that?” I need God’s grace and power to give insight.

Working With Others

I’m an American, so I already have a disposition towards being independent and self-reliant. I was homeschooled, so I learned to work independently…a strength and a weakness. I’m more naturally introverted. I could spend all day at home translating Hebrew, not talking to anyone, and I would be happy. But I need others. I need the body of Christ and its members (1 Corinthians 12) to display Christ and seek to build up His global body. I need other people’s strengths and I need them to complement my weaknesses. I need to humble myself under my leaders that God has placed over me.

Because Christ’s power was made known through Paul’s weakness, he said he was well content with weakness and other hard things. WELL CONTENT. To be honest…I’m not there yet. I don’t like being weak. I like to feel strong and capable. But then Chris and not Christ is seen, and that is truly a disaster. It is far better to rejoice in seeing Christ work His power through our weakness.

At the end of Module 1 a couple weeks ago, I was teaching Introduction to Exegesis to our Diploma students. The module was exhausting and very discouraging at times. There was so much to do and it felt like so many things slipped through the cracks or didn’t go smoothly. But then a student came up to me at the end of the last session and told me that based on what he had learned that module, he wanted to go and change a sermon he was going to preach to an expository sermon. God keeps giving sweet glimpses like these to show that He is at work through our weakness for His glory and the spread of His Word through faithful preaching throughout the country of Malawi.

Current Prayer Requests

Flexibility and Weakness

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Malawi almost a month! We feel as though we’re basically settled though we are learning new things every day. That’s part of the challenge of being here. There’s always some new challenge to overcome. Always unexpected things that come up. Everything takes longer than you expect. You never know when you’re going to lose power or when the Internet will be on the fritz or if your car will break and will have to be jerry-rigged to keep going. 

Because that’s life in Malawi, you can’t be a specialist out here. Of course everyone has strengths in certain areas and you want to play to those strengths, but you must do things you’ve never done before. You must be creative and think outside the box and do stuff that you think is outside of your strengths. Most of all, you must be patient, you must work as a team, and you must be dependent on the God of all grace as He exposes your weakness and inability. 

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 I think this is the primary thing that God is teaching me right now. I came here to help teach Malawian pastors Hebrew so that they might better preach the Word of God from the Old Testament. But I also have the privilege of helping in other areas that I am not as comfortable with. Part of my job is to help with IT stuff connected with CAPA. I don’t have an IT background. So, I have to try new things, learn new things, be patient, repent when I get frustrated, and be dependent on God to help me navigate new situations and be useful. Yet, even though I am not strong in this area, I see how God in His all-knowing sovereignty has used so many little episodes in my life to enable me to even have a foothold in trying and exploring as I try to repair something. For example, I ended up having to replace a laptop screen for a student. I had never done that before. But one of my hobbies as a kid was taking computer stuff apart. I also loved building a variety of things that required a variety of tools. These things gave me some experience to help replace the screen and epoxy some broken hinges. God used my silly hobbies to help me know. It’s all His grace! 

I also have been able to help a bit with academic administration. I helped enter and process some of the new applicants for the next MDiv and next diploma classes entering this academic year. (CAPA will triple its student body, Lord-willing!) A lot of this process was data entry, hunting online for information regarding students’ schools, and discussions with the other members of the team on how to evaluate and process the applications effectively. There have also been discussions on how to structure courses, what course loads should be, etc., etc. These are not things I have exactly done before, and yet I see how God has even used my time teaching mathematics at Eastern Washington University to help prepare me for now.  

Even though God in His sovereignty has given past experience to help pave the way for being here now, I have been learning that I must renounce self-reliance, depend on God’s strength alone, and give thanks for what He allows us to accomplish. Being here shows me how weak I really am and how needy for God’s grace I am. I am learning that seeing God work through my weakness is the most joyful experience. Prideful self-reliance would rob me of this joy, so God is good to expose that self-reliance so that I might have a humble joy in watching Him work. 

Malawi desperately need’s God’s work through weak vessels! The spiritual landscape is scary as there are many in Malawi’s pulpits who preach false gospels. I was giving one of the CAPA students a ride home from the last class of the last intensive session, and he said that the main problem in the churches of Malawi is that they do not reverence God’s written Word, the Bible. Since being here, we have heard of cases of some Malawian pastors preaching twice a month on giving to the church/pastor but never on the church helping widows. Giving to the church is proclaimed as a way for you to fix all of your financial problems because God will bless your gift. The need in Malawi is for humble and holy pastors who will accurately preach God’s written Word to the people. Only through the accurate proclamation of God’s written Word will the Spirit transform people’s hearts. Only through the genuine humility, personal holiness, and love of shepherd-preachers will the charlatans in the pulpits be unmasked for what they truly are. This is why Ashley and I are serving at CAPA in our own weakness, desperately needy for God’s power to serve here effectively.  

(Please enjoy some photos that we have taken of Malawi the last few weeks below!)


Malawian field mice. A Malawian Treat! Thanks Jim Ayers for this welcoming gift!


Don’t worry…no one fed me here.


Coffin Road in Lilongwe. Coffin shops lie along this road (hence the name), although you can’t see any in this picture.
A variety of potatoes on a bike. This bike is very lightly loaded.
Mulanje Mountain about 6-7 hours south of Lilongwe
Matt Floreen about to run up Mulanje mountain and then back down for a 22km race. Vertical gain was 1.7km. He finished like a champ (I was there for moral support).
A tea estate in front of Mulanje mountain. We passed through the estate before coming to a trailhead to hike up into the mountain a bit.
More of the tea estate and Mulanje.
Our hike into the mountain. The tea estate has its own hydroelectric facility, hence the pipes.
Malawi maintenance at its finest.
Our drive back from Mulanje to Lilongwe.





Thoughts about Home in the Midst of Life Transitions


Last year we made an enormous move from Spokane to the LA area. In the weeks leading up to moving out of our apartment, staying with family in between and actually getting into our place in Santa Clarita, I didn’t think the transition would be particularly difficult. I was very wrong.

Transition is hard.

I’ve been thinking of that more as we, less than a year later, are in another time of transition. We are the middle of our week in Spokane, enjoying our time with friends and family and excitedly looking forward to our departure without a clear idea of what life will really look like on the other side of our plane ride.

One topic of conversation Chris and I have had recently is about HOME. We love Spokane. Chris grew up here, I became an adult here (you know, that growing up period in your twenties where you mature and become a functioning member of society) and so much of coming back here felt like coming home. Especially on Sunday when we were able to go to Faith Bible Church and hear Dan preach and worship with our church family (not that we dislike Grace but there is something special about being in your home church). But as we’ve wandered around, comparing how things are different from LA (traffic, distance/time to get to places, culture) we’ve both felt that it’s not the same. It’s not home. The realization made both of us ache. If this isn’t home and LA isn’t home, where IS home?

For me, being married to Chris, it’s sweet that our home is wherever we’re together. But even that is not completely satisfactory. As Christians, this world is not our home. We’re experiencing some of the bittersweet longing for home that Hebrews 11 describes that Abraham had:

“and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

We are exiles in Spokane, we are exiles in Los Angeles and we will be exiles in Malawi. We are seeking a homeland, our heavenly homeland! This knowledge doesn’t make the transition time easier but it gives us hope to persevere through them.

Another transition was not in our plans. In fact, when Malawi came up, facing another transition was a detractor in the decision making process. I don’t like it. But stepping out into discomfort and the potential for pain, we had a tiny bit of faith. “Yes, Lord, we’ll go to Malawi if you send us financially, with the local church behind us and if certain difficulties are removed in the process.” He answered that bit of faith swiftly and powerfully. I mean, who raises $30,000 in two months? How were obstacles removed so easily? It certainly wasn’t because of our magnificent effort. God is at work in this! He is growing our faith and confidence in Him – not just for Malawi but for our entire lives. And the transition, hard as it is, is keeping our eyes set on our heavenly home as our earthly home shifts yet again.

In less than a week we will be in Malawi. On this side of it, it seems impossible and surreal. But it is happening! We can’t wait to update you all with news of our long airplane ride and our first impressions of Africa – our next temporary home on our way to heaven.

Please continue to pray for us – see our Current Prayer Requests for ways to pray this week.


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

This last Monday we got our latest donation report which indicated that we have hit our support goal of $30,000 (and are actually probably above that goal)! 

The living God from Whom and through Whom and to Whom are all things has stirred up the hearts of many to give and to give generously! We serve a real God and an awesome God Who has done far more abundantly than all that Ashley and I have asked or thought! We did not expect to be fully funded before we left for the year in such a short amount of time, yet the Triune God has glorified Himself by providing for this opportunity for the advancement of the gospel through the training of pastors to rightly handle His Word. 

Ashley and I are truly humbled and feel now more than ever our need to keep trusting in our awesome God for grace to be useful for His service. We do not have the resources or the strength or the wisdom to accomplish the task set before us…but He does! He is a good Father Who gives good gifts to His children, to those Who wait on Him! 

Ashley and I are also very joyful! We rejoice to be used as tools of God and to watch Him do His work! There is truly no greater joy than getting to see the Sovereign God display His glory in amazing ways! 

Thank you dear friends and family for partnering with us in this strategic opportunity! Please continue to partner with us in prayer. Though a tangible hurdle has been overcome, the real battle is spiritual. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places….praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel Ephesians 6:10-12, 18-19

We desperately need your prayers to our great God over the course of this entire year! Please keep visiting our prayer request page which we will try to keep up to date with our current prayer requests. 

If you desire to still partner financially, please consider donating directly to the Central African Preaching Academy here. Select “Central African Preaching Academy” from the drop-down menu towards the right. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever!

So. How are we?

So. How are we?

We’ve been getting that question a lot. It’s a loaded question, of course, how are we doing physically, how are we doing emotionally, how are we doing spiritually, how are we doing with our transitions, how are we doing with packing, how are we doing with raising support?

Well, let me tell you!

Today, for the first time in a week, I left the house. We went to a brunch in the park with a group of seminary families. It was a sweet time and a good chance to get out from our plain walls and our engulfing couch where I’ve reclined for the most of the last week.

Last Thursday Chris finished up all of his work for the semester and I had laparoscopy surgery on Friday. He transitioned directly from working hard for school to working hard to care for me and to pack and move. He has been amazing! I’m healing and generally feeling pretty well but it is still a process and I have to remember to not push myself to do more than I can. It’s difficult with so much to do but God has been gracious to give me the energy that I need to do some things and has provided help to do things that would be too much. For example, seminary and church friends have been bringing us meals for the last week and are signed up to bring us meals this next week! It’s a huge blessing to us that we don’t have to worry about what to eat!

We are currently packing for Malawi (and Boise & Spokane!) AND packing all of our other belongings to store for a year. We are SO thankful that we have a free, clean, dry, safe place to store our belongings while we are away. Here’s a little glimpse of our packing process…

Stuff for Malawi!
 We plan to move the remainder of our belongings that we’re going to store next Thursday so we have less than a week to get everything packed and ready. It’s overwhelming but there is progress! (Pssst: if you’re in Santa Clarita and happen to have a free evening on Thursday, we’d love to have your help!)

Each Monday we are emailed a financial update. Each Monday we’re continuously humbled and thankful for people’s generosity and support! We are over 2/3 of the way to fully supported including both what has been pledged and what has been given for our year in Malawi (almost 50% given and almost 20% pledged). We will continue to fund raise while we are there and will have a visiting team or professor bring the remaining funds to us during the year. If you would like to give before we leave, you can do so on the Grace Church website here. If you would like to give during the time we’re away, please let us know by filling out this form so we know what to expect! Thank you for giving and thank you for praying! Again, it is so humbling to need help and to ask for help. And oddly, even more humbling to see our needs being met. The body of Christ is absolutely incredible! Willing to cook, work, give, serve, pray and love us in ways that we never could have expected (see our current prayer requests for ways you can be praying)! You all seem to ENJOY helping us! It is a blessing and encouragement to us. May we serve CAPA as well as we have been served on our way!

Thank you, also, for continuing to read our posts! We appreciate you keeping up on our journey and look forward to continuing to share our life in this way.

Why is Knowing Hebrew Helpful for Pastors?


I am going to the Central African Preaching Academy to teach pastors how to use Hebrew when preaching God’s Word from the Old Testament. How does that work? Let me see if I can illustrate it for you. Let’s look at Psalm 23:1 in a couple English translations.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. KJV

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. NASB  

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ESV

There is no difference in these translations. Let’s look at Psalm 23:1 in Hebrew. Keep in mind that Hebrew reads from right-to-left rather than left-to-right.

 מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד יְהוָ֥ה רֹ֝עִ֗י לֹ֣א אֶחְסָֽר׃

The first thing to note is that מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד is actually what our English Bibles record as the title of the Psalm. The title is actually part of the text; it’s Scripture! Your English Bible might put the title in the same text formatting as the rest of the psalm. A good rendering of מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד would be, “A Psalm by David.” Notice I said by instead of of because the לְ in front of David’s name functions to denote authorship. It is an inscripturated fact that David wrote Psalm 23.

Next, all the English translations I quoted above refer to God as “The Lord.” Why is Lord in all capitals? Because it is God’s personal, covenant name that is being used. In the Hebrew text it is יְהוָ֥ה. At some point after the Old Testament was written, Jews began reading the Hebrew equivalent to Lord (master) instead of pronouncing God’s covenant name for fear of taking the Lord’s name in vain, breaking the third commandment (Exodus 20:7). However, this is a hyper-reverencing of God’s name. Taking the Lord’s name in vain means invoking it for worthless things that do not honor Him. His name is Yahweh.

It is important that David is using God’s covenant name in Psalm 23:1. First, God’s name is connected with His absolute being. This is seen when God talks with Moses from the burning bush. 

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Exodus 3:13-15 

We can see here that God is relating His name Yahweh to His eternal self-existence and independence. The Hebrew root for being/”I am” is connected to the root word of God’s name in Hebrew. You could basically understand God’s name as meaning “He is.” Yahweh has always existed and relies on no one and nothing else for His existence. He doesn’t need anything outside of Himself for His existence.

There’s more to David using God’s covenant name in Psalm 23 though. God not only made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai through Moses. He made a covenant with David Himself.

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”2 Samuel 7:8-16

Here, the promise to David is that his kingdom shall exist forever. God had taken the shepherd David to be king over Israel and ultimately to produce a king in the Davidic line to rule forever. Shepherding was a common metaphor for kingship among the regions surrounding Israel. So, when we read “Yahweh is my shepherd,” we have to see the rich backdrop of God’s covenant with David. David is recognizing as Israel’s king that Yahweh is David’s king Who cares for David and has established an amazing covenant impacting the whole world.

What about the last part of Psalm 23:1? The KJV, ESV, and NASB share the same rendering because the 1611 version of the KJV used the wording, “I shall not want.” It has become engrained into English-speaking Christian culture. I grew up reading and memorizing this text. Often I would think that this was my response to God being my shepherd. I shouldn’t be discontent ever, I shouldn’t want anything, because Yahweh is my shepherd. While that is a valid application of the text, that isn’t quite what the text means.

The Hebrew verb has a root idea of lacking or having need. Some of the noun forms of the word have to do with poverty. Older English used “want” in the sense of need more often than we do today. That is why the KJV (and subsequently the NASB and ESV) rendered the verb this way. With the particular conjugation of the verb and the particular negation used, a good rendering would be “I shall never become needful.” The focus is not on David’s contentment per se, but on Yahweh’s supply so that David should never, ever enter into a state of need. It’s not just that David is not needful as he writes this psalm but that he will never even enter into the state of need.

I know what you’re thinking. How in the world can David claim this? In his life, whether fleeing from Saul or dealing with the Philistines or fleeing from his own son Absalom, he always seemed like he was in need. Let’s ramp up the tension even more. This psalm follows on the heals of Psalm 22 in which a king in David’s line suffers the most intense agony and persecution. How can a Davidic king claim to never become needful even in the midst of such suffering and deprivation? Because Yahweh is the everlasting God Who doesn’t need anything Who has made a covenant with David. Yahweh defines what David’s needs are, not David. David is expressing his faith in Yahweh even in the face of suffering and death (Psalm 22).

How does this apply to me as a Christian? Jesus of Nazareth is the ultimate Davidic King Whom the Davidic Covenant promises. God in His grace gives new covenant relationships to not only Israelites but also Gentiles like me through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel writers intentionally interact with this psalm.

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass [Psalm 23:2]. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. Mark 6:34-44, emphasis added.

Jesus is casting Himself as the shepherd of Psalm 23. This means Jesus was claiming to be Yahweh in the feeding of the five thousand. He does it again in John 10.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

 Jesus has laid down His life for me, and I am one of His sheep. He is Yahweh, the great I AM. I am in covenant relationship with Him. I will experience times of hardship, suffering, and persecution as a Christian. I am promised that, but I will never truly enter a state of need because Yahweh is my Shepherd.  Even death is not a state of need because my Shepherd conquered death itself.

I hope this look at Psalm 23:1 has given you a taste of why knowing Hebrew is so helpful for a preacher of God’s Word! God’s word is so rich and knowing how to use the original language properly can help a preacher give those riches to God’s flock.

As we prepare to leave for Malawi to seek to participate in one component of my Shepherd’s great commission, do we have real physical needs? Absolutely! Do I know that all of those physical needs will be met or that there won’t be hardship or suffering? No. But I do know that I will never lack anything that Yahweh says that I truly need for continued faith and to be able to do glorify Him with my life. There is such an opportunity here to bless the church in Malawi! Will you partner with us by prayer or financially?

 Check out the How to Give! page and consider filling out the form here to help us plan for our trip.

How to Give!

If you desire to partner with us financially we can now accept donations for our trip! All contributions are tax-deductible.* To contribute, make a check out to Grace Ministries International and in the memo line put “Malawi-Chris Mullins.” Mail the check to Grace Ministries International at 13248 Roscoe Boulevard, Sun Valley, CA 91352.

Electronic giving is now available as well! If you would like to make a one-time gift, you can do so at gracechurch.org on their Short-Term Ministries page. Here is a direct link to our page as well. If you would like to give monthly or make a one-time gift at a later time, please let us know by filling out our form here. It will really help us to know if you are planning to give!

So far we have over $20,000 between what has been pledged ($5500) + given ($14500). That is over 2/3 of what we will need! It’s a race of faith that were are running and you all are helping us to run it! 

Thank you for your support and encouragement! It is so encouraging to learn of the people who have given and who plan to give in the future and we know that is the outworking of people praying for us (we need it! See our Current Prayer Requests for how you can pray for us right now!)! To God alone be the glory! We can’t at all do this on our own so we’re so grateful to have you all involved.

 *For the deduction to be allowed, contributions are to be made with the understanding that GMI (a ministry of Grace Community Church) has complete control and administration of the donated funds.