We returned recently from one of the most memorable and impactful conferences we have had yet, involving the largest team, 13 of us in all, to minister not only to the pastors and wives, but to the 200 orphans located in Blantyre, Malawi.
Malawi trip members included: Dr. David Lewis, Jacob Lewis, Dr. Michael and Belinda McCarthy, Nicole Stewart, Wes Folsom, Dr. Kirk Milhoan, Chris Malavolta, DeeDee Stewart, Kyle Johnson, Devon Johnson, Steve and Connie Troxel.
As some of you remember, just one Bishop and his son, with no formal training have been raised up by God to plant nearly 700 churches in Malawi and Mozambique. 720 of those pastors and wives came to our conference. They traveled in canoes over rivers, bicycles, flat bed trucks, buses, etc. The great majority are located in the bush country, small villages with little access to outside information. These conferences are the only source of Bible training that they have access to. There were no cell phones, laptops or other gadgets to distract their attention. The participants took notes and plan on using them to teach others until the next conference. I want you to hear from Bishop Dimba and his son Enock personally.
First, the Bishop writes: “I want to thank you for your tireless traveling to us to teach the Church and encourage the families of the bush Pastors each time, when the Lord enables you to do so. Also for bringing the team to work with the orphans, who were so happy indeed to have them beside them for the whole five days!”
“It was so wonderful to hear such (Biblical) teaching and it was an eye opener for both the husbands and their wives. For generation after generation, the native people never thought that the women must be treated like you taught us (tenderly). They feel that when people see you doing that you are a coward or the wife has given you African loving charm medicine. Their usual thought is that the husband must always be tough on the wife to gain respect (or control).”
“You must beat her; you must let her work hard in the garden or in the house. That is why all the wives were happy to learn that in Christ that was not true. But they should be shown love and tenderness…. Please come again for more teachings to us all here. More and more new to come. Yours in Great Commission of ‘Go Ye.’”
As a side note the Bishop told me on the final night that as many as 70% of the husbands (pastors) there beat their wives into submission and now they have asked God’s forgiveness and they will not do it anymore. He assured me that next time we come we will see a difference.
Pastor Enock wrote: “It is God at work through you to all people of Malawi and Mozambique. Since you have been holding conferences here in Malawi, we have seen a big change in the families and villages where those pastors and wives come from and a lot of people now are seeing the difference between cultural things and Christianity. The Bibles and notes you have given to us at each conference is a great thing to refer to in our daily lives….. Those 5 days of teaching for most of us was just like a day and we pray that if the Lord will enable you to come again, we can have a theme similar to this year (Standing firm in Suffering) as we know most of us have been in suffering. This is especially true for pastors and wives from Mozambique, as they have been in war for 18 years and preaching the gospel at that time was a big challenge. (The Bishop also said that of the 200 plus pastors from Mozambique, nearly all of them had a close family member killed in the ongoing war.) When you first came to us we had about 550 churches and because of the teaching that the Lord has given to you for us, the pastors and their wives have received them, and do what was told. Now we have about 700 churches in Malawi and Mozambique. We really need your prayers as they really need to be visited and be encouraged in one way or another. My love to the team and the brothers and sisters there.”
We are so privileged to be doing what we are doing. And, it is because of your faithful praying and financial support that we can continue. May God bless each one of you. As they say in Africa, “God is good… all the time.”
Steve and Connie and the Shepherds’ Support Board:
Bobby and Carole Limmer, Lannie and Melba Green, Keith Eyre, Stuart and Lee Anne Hendry, Tom and Barbara Chandler