December 29, 2019

Christmas season in Southern Africa

Area 36 Lilongwe Bible Study Christmas Party

Sunday morning Christmas/New Year's Food Fellowship

"Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift" 2 Corinthians 9:15

 Merry Christmas 
Happy New Year 2020

From Team Malawi

A New Year With The Lord

A new year is about to unfold
With new opportunities to explore
Doors will open for new experiences,
New adventures with the Lord

Remember not the former things,
The things of this past year,
The Lord will do new things in us,
Much more than we are aware…
© By M.S.Lowndes

October 22, 2019

Bundle of Incredible Sweetness

    I’m in the passenger seat of our car, my head is turned, gazing out the window watching people. Our AC is broken so the window is down. Its dry, dusty and hot but at least.…          
People are walking on the main road. Between pedestrians, bikes, minibuses, and cars, its never really routine to drive here. Its a pretty quiet morning though. Its Sunday, church morning, and you have many choices for a church service here as there are churches everywhere. Its more a tradition and great fear of God of why people go. Like most people around the world, we’ve met many people on the street that will tell you they go every Sunday, and would say “of course we are born again, cant you see it?” But do they think about God any other day? Probably few of them but many don't know how personal God can be. 

And just like that, I'm reminded of why we are really here. To just love people the way they are and where they are at and the way God loves us.

If you love God, you will love people because it is his nature to love people. 1 John 4;19-20

     It occurred to me the other day that this month 10 years ago we packed our bags and moved our family of 4 to Africa (Zambia). Before having our girls, we had spent a few years there as newlyweds and were really hoping we would one day go back. Fast forward 3 years and, we were packing our lives into 12 bags (literally) and moving overseas, not really knowing how long we would be gone. Yes friends we had no clue. You see, we didn’t sign a contract and we didn’t know if it would be for a few years or longer. When we decided to move from Zambia to Malawi I knew we were going to be around for longer than I had ever imagined (!!!) 
As we travel back to the states almost every year people ask us, “so how long will you be there?” and I would just say and still do “one year at the time” “ and “as long as God has walked before us, we will follow in that direction!” 

Our first prayer card-2009
But looking back, I can't thing of any better place to be with my family.  The overwhelming reason is a simple one - the plan of God.  When one is in the plan of God, it is the best place to be on earth. It may not be the easiest, or most enjoyable, but it is the best. When you sense the presence of God with you, you are able to weather so many things. 

Just looking at some old pictures, we can see one reoccuring theme - friends.  I think that is the treasure that God has given us in our time in Africa:  Life-long Family Friends.  We see the people that God has placed in our lives and are truly blessed.  This happens regardless of geography in the Body of Christ, God's church.  For us it just seems that friends in Africa are made a bit faster, there is less of the layers to peel through to find the depth in people.  It is not just in relationships, but in many things.  There is not a lot of sugar coating on things in Africa, things can be very raw, so with people, they say this is who we are do you still love us.  People are very open in many ways.  You may meet someone on the street and they will ask for prayer for a besetting sin in their lives.  

                                                                               Zambia 2009-12

We are amazed how open they are, maybe like the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5.  She was so desperate that she would do whatever it took to be healed.  Many people are in these types of circumstances.  We can feel so inadequate at times, thinking that there are so many needs and we feel overwhelmed, but soon come to the realization that we can't meet anyones needs anyway, much less our own.  That makes pointing people to God, that much easier.

Our family life has been a treasure too in our time here.  Now that our children are in school, it seems more like a normal day to day life.  But when our children were homeschooled, there was a lot of time spent together: going on outreach together, visiting church members together, missions trips.  Team missions, like was preached by Pr Stevens, has also helped us thrive on the missionfield.  Having my parents with us and friends like Pr Matt and Lisa and Pr Albert and Mclean have made the time so enjoyable.  We are blessed beyond measure, thanks be to God.

                                                                  Malawi 2013-19

Now 10 years later (and really who’s counting!?) and we are just amazed at what God has done in our lives and the people’s lives here in Malawi. 

A life filled with adventures, precious friendships that transcend distance and time, a grand worldview from world travels and living in multiple cultures bring a great appreciation for those that are different. The sweetness of belonging to a worldwide family. These friendships have made our moves and our stay easier.

Answered prayers: 

-Our churches in Salima (East) and Mzuzu (north) have started this past summer.

Greater Grace Church Mzuzu, church members
Greater Grace Church Salima

-Our western church plant in Chipata (east Zambia) is planned for early 2020

Thank you for your prayers always.

Greater Grace Bible College Lilongwe registration line -September 2019

September 14, 2019

Behind the scene of transition

     As we adjust between 2 very different countries and cultures, our 2 worlds tend to conflict a bit. The transition and adaptation can be different and shorter as the years go by and I’m learning to trust God in the process. He has called us to this life after all. 

What you can expect to be done in an instant in a first world country can take days even weeks here. What we can take for granted there we see it as a great blessing here. Just listen to my kids or look at them when the power goes out in the evening and it’s like our new normal now, no one reacts or cries, “just light the candle”, or “just wait a minute dad will hopefully turn the generator on!” And then when the power comes back and everyone in the house is so excited. And then when the water comes back on after a few days off or when we find something at the store that we have never seen here before and it’s there!
our water tank and our back yard

What you are so used to have and then it’s not there anymore. When you are used to walking down the street and nobody really cares that you are there and then you remember where you are and every eyes are on you.

Yes the transition is hard. I always have this inner battle in me that refuses to adjust in the first few weeks back or that wants to complain about every little thing that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

Through this inner war, I’m understanding more concretely His promise of peace:

You [God] will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 6:23 

Change is hard. It can be confusing and depleting at times. But through it, I’m learning to depend more and trust more in a God who always stays the same.

Recently, God has been speaking to me through Psalm 139. Here is a portion of it:

 “Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast…
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…"

These last few years have not always been easy, but God has been faithful. He’s guided, protected, and healed.
I’ve personally experienced that God is my never-changing constant.

Please pray for us as a lot is changing here. New teams are being prepared to go. New people are coming and it’s so exciting to see what God will do. Pray for our girls in school and their teachers. I thank God everyday that we have an International Christian School in this city.