by Hercules Opperman
Before returning home from Malawi, Ps. Henry Mkhomanya, leader of our Shofar Malawi churches shared a surprising testimony with me. He said that a local Muslim leader came to him during our visit asking why the white man builds for the black man and that it was probably costing a fortune. To which Ps. Henry could reply that there was no cost, because they are people from the kingdom of God. It was in that moment that we were reminded what a testimony this was to the world!
Sending a team to Malawi was the third focus for this year’s Harvest. We went from 14-30 August visiting our 18 Shofar Malawi churches, offering support, leadership training and renovations to their main base in Mangochi, a township in the Southern Region of Malawi. After our last visit there, we learnt that bicycles were the main form of transport among the people of Malawi. This is why we decided to go back and travel between the villages by bicycle to learn more about the churches.
Our team consisted of members from various Shofar congregations across South Africa and Namibia. The first week we started with six cyclists and four supporting team members completing a 445km journey from Blantyre to Mangochi, visiting the outlying churches to connect, support and determine their individual needs. The other half of our team dedicated their time to the buildings in Mangochi as well as doing outreaches in the surrounding areas.
Week two, whilst most of the team was building, the rest were involved with leadership training, equipping the local Malawian pastors. During our visit we had many encounters while spending time with the people of Malawi on God’s commission. Here are some of our highlights:
our shofar family
What stood out about this “mission” was the tremendous support our team received from all our other Shofar churches in prayer, encouragement and financial contributions towards training material and the building-project, which brought so much momentum to our endeavor.
setting the table
Travelling from church to church on bicycle gave us a chance to witness the effect it had on the Malawian people. By doing this, we also experienced appreciation from the Malawian pastors, who showed their gratitude through the preparations they made before we came. They went as far as cleaning their churches and preparing the way for our 4×4 by making routes through the cornfields to help us reach our destinations. Our brothers in Malawi could really sense our sincere effort to serve them, and we were humbled by the way in which we were received.
salt and light
The people across Malawi knew about our cycling team, as we traveled from village to village we were greeted by children from afar before we entered each little community. Even at the police blockades they greeted us as the known “cycling team going around”.
Back in Mangochi our building team made such a great impact through their interactions and buying of products from local businesses. The whole community knew that the team was busy building a church, and they had many enquiries. This left us with the hope and belief that through pure curiosity the church will welcome some new visitors in the days to come.
hand of God
Our team was so amazingly handpicked by God, with builders, electricians, painters, mechanics and engineers. This allowed us to do much in a very short time. This was/is a testimony of practical people finding their role and contribution in the mission field, reminding us how privileged we are with the people we have in our ranks. To us, what was seemingly a small contribution changed the heart of a community and a nation in a mere two weeks. By making the infrastructure a little easier, we can even plan for future mission groups to go and make a meaningful contribution to the people of Malawi.
no weapon formed against us shall prosper
We did encounter an 8-hour hold-up at the Beitbridge border, due to wrong paperwork, which forced us to leave one of our vehicles at the post. Following this, our trailer lost a wheel, which delayed our cycling team for a day. We came to realise, however, that the hard work and opposition to our trip were insignificant compared to the impact God made during our short time in Malawi.
Before returning home, as we prayed together with the local pastors, I could sense such a transition of ownership and responsibility over the nation of Malawi from both the local pastors and our own hearts. We know that God has a plan for the nation of Malawi and we look forward with anticipation to seeing how He will reveal HIS plans in the future.
Until then, God bless the nation of Malawi, its people and those who will continue to go in HIS name!
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if you’d like to continue to support our Shofar Malawi churches through prayer or by giving visit www.shofaronline.org/harvest for more info.