On our recent pastors and wives conference in Malawi, involving 720 pastors and wives, we were accompanied by a young and energetic team of eight, plus Dr. Kirk Milhoan who continues to regularly monitor the children’s medical needs.
Those eight included Dr. David Lewis, his son Jacob, Jacob’s friend Chris Malavolta, Dee Dee Stewart, and her daughter Nicole, Wesley Folsom, Kyle Johnson and Devon Johnson. This team gave their time and energy to serving the needs of the 200 plus orphans that are at Maoni Orphanage, where we held the conference. It was amazing to see them in action. They had a monumental impact in the lives of the orphans as they loved them, told them about Jesus and played with them, and the orphans had a significant impact in their lives, as well. I want you to hear about it in their own words.
Jacob wrote: “Not only did we change their lives, but they changed mine. I fell in love with all the children there and I now appreciate everything I have 100 percent more. I try not to ever have self-pity for what I don’t have because I know that if they had half of what I had, they would think it was heaven on earth. I am always thinking of them and praying for them to further their relationship with God and to practice the attributes we taught them. I have already decided that I want to go back to Malawi and see my kids again and spread God’s love to them and all the new children.”
Chris wrote: “First of all I would like to give God all the glory for even opening the doors and allowing me to be a part of such a blessed group of people. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit anointed each and every member of the mission team, and I believe that is why the trip was such a success. Being able to spend quality time loving on the orphans was truly a special part for me. I realized then that these kids have had no one to love them and any love I showed them automatically made both their hearts as well as mine glow. A time when I truly felt God’s presence was when I was able to pray over the orphans. I had never prayed over anyone before, so I was a bit nervous to say the least. However, God took over 100% and anointed my words, so that the children understood what I was praying for and they realized I loved them. To say the trip changed my life would be an understatement. It not only changed how I take things for granted but also made me realize to savor all of God’s blessings no matter how big or small they may seem. The fact that I was able to make new friendships while also serving God and ministering to those in need is a real blessing.”
Kyle wrote: “One thing that really stuck out to me was just the simple faith of the children. They came expecting to be healed. And so many of them had such simple health issues in our eyes, such as a stomach ache or head ache, that we can so easily remedy with a couple of pills. But these amenities are not available to these children. They have no choice but to trust the only physician they have, who just so happens to be The Great Physician. Numerous children were instantly healed of the previously mentioned infirmities. How humbling it was to be the hands and feet of Christ in those moments. God is so good, He is faithful, and if nothing else this trip showed me how He truly is still moving, and most astounding of all, just how deeply He cares for his abandoned children.”
Devon wrote: “I will never again be content with living an ordinary life for my own personal gain. Malawi made me realize that Jesus calls us to a pretty radical lifestyle and I want to be willing to live that way no matter where I am taken. All I can think about is how I want to go back. Being with those orphans and pastors for only a week was depressing in that when we leave we get to come back to a comfy and blessed life in America but they don’t have that chance. They stay permanently. Yet, they have more joy and faith then the majority of us here. I realized that mission trips often start with the idea of us helping and teaching those who are deprived and lacking, but while we were able to encourage them, I would dare to say that they taught us even more and encouraged us in ways we never ever expected.”
Wesley wrote: “The trip to Malawi for me was an incredible time. I was amazed at the power that our presence brought to the people. It is truly a most humbling experience to be celebrated and served by people that have so little. The act of us Americans physically coming to them in their country was a blessing to the orphans as well as the pastors and wives. The children desperately wanted to be all around us and have any contact they could get. Holding children’s hands or giving a hug meant so much to them. It was a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for us and how we desperately long for His presence and to feel His touch. Being a part of the body of Christ in the feet that will bring good news and the hands that reach out is the most amazing, humbling, and rewarding part of being a Christian.”
Nicole wrote: “Our recent trip to Malawi was in a word life-changing. After seeing the passion for Jesus, the gratefulness for having next to nothing and the sincere love for others that the people of Malawi had on their faces, my life will never be the same. Upon returning to the States I realize that this trip was only just the beginning of the great adventure God has planned for my life. He has stirred a deep passion and love in my heart for serving the people of Malawi, and He is opening doors to make the dream of helping them become a reality. God is showing me how to use the talent He has given me in graphic design and photography to start an organization that will help raise funds to support the children at Maoni Orphanage. Although it is still a work in progress I encourage you to check out the website at “goyemalawi.weebly.com” and like our Facebook page to find out more information about how you too can help support God’s precious lambs at Maoni Orphanage!”
Dr. David wrote: “Highlights of the trip for me:
1. Watching our 5 youth teach a lesson to the orphans and see God’s love flow through them to the children.
2. All 8 members of Team Orphan, kneeling on the ground, laying hands on each of the orphans and praying for that child’s direct needs. Some needed help in school, headaches, stomach aches, malaria, and parasites, etc…
3. This was the first time I personally felt God talking and working through me in lessons I gave, prayers I prayed, and giving me the boldness to share God’s Word and His love.
4. The greatest highlight was seeing 175 dirty little dark hands raised, and shaved little heads bowed, praying to accept Jesus as their Savior! It was incredible to see how little the orphans have. Yet they are happy. Paul tells us to be happy IN our circumstances and to give thanks at ALL times. We all could learn from these children. We went to the orphans and tried our best to share God’s love with them. I also know that my sister Dee Dee and I are going to go back to them. Our families are planning on joining us next time. We are not sure if the Lord will enable us to go in 2014, or to wait until 2015 to coincide with another possible SSI conference. But, our desire is to return to the orphans and continue to teach them about God’s love and His Word.”
“I want to personally thank each of you who prayed for us during the trip. We had no illnesses or lost baggage. God’s Word was spread because of your prayers and your financial support. 175 orphaned and fatherless children are now believers, and they know they have an Eternal Father who loves them!”
Dee Dee, David’s sister, wrote: “Our goal was to love, play with, and teach them about Jesus. We planned a teaching time a game time for each morning and another teaching time and game time for the afternoon. We spoke through an interpreter. Our team used drawings, drama, visuals, and even a puppet show! But what God did was so completely above and beyond our expectations and man-made plans! I witnessed the Holy Spirit empower and take over each member of the team as it was their turn to teach. We loved, rocked, carried, cradled, prayed over, held hands with, wiped noses, cleaned boo boos, and laughed!”
“I am changed! I wondered before I left if I would honestly feel love and compassion. Would it take me a day or two to “warm up?” I can honestly say that the instant I heard the people (over 100 of them) singing at the airport to welcome us, I cried. And the first child I saw immediately melted my heart. I was consumed with a depth of passion and joy that I have never experienced before. I truly loved them and do love them. I’ve seen firsthand that God is all you need…Period! These
precious people literally have nothing, but are so happy. They are free from the distractions that so completely disable us.”
Dee Dee concluded: “My view of the world and how God is working around it is different. My level of gratefulness to our Heavenly Father has sky rocketed! My heart for missions has been ignited. I want to go back! Oh Lord, use me as you see fit.”
My closing comment is this, even though our ministry at SSI is to encourage and equip pastors and wives to go the distance in marriage and ministry, God has given us this incredible opportunity to reach out and touch a large number of orphans in Malawi who are together with the pastors and wives for 5 days each of the 4 times we have gone there. Who knows what potential each of these orphans has and what they will become as adults? In that group might be the future president of the country or a group of pastors that will have a great impact not only in Malawi, but in all the surrounding countries and maybe even all of Africa. If you would like to be involved in any way please let us know. May God bless each of you as you continue to pray and support His work around the world. You are making a difference.
Steve and Connie for our Shepherds’ Support Board