January 30, 2019

We are what we are by the Grace of God... - 1 Cor. 10:15

As we closed evangelism on the first Monday of the Year, we walked over to our “office” (Our “office” is one of the cul-de-sacs of post office boxes.  There is an ankle high stoop where people are sitting throughout the day.  This is our board room for our staff meeting. Often we are asked where our office is located, I usually tell them its the biggest office in town. It is comical, that we have sometimes 10 church members all seated around with one or two extra people that automatically become guests. Occasionally a hand will go up and it is one of the visitors making a comment, which usually is pretty good).  Little did we know when we started brainstorming, it would result in our busiest January ever.  January usually is busy since it is a month off of Bible College, it is when we squeeze a lot of what we cant do on the weekends of classes.  First was our annual Baptism/Church Picnic/Volleyball tournament. What a great opening of the year, new disciples and older believers making a public declaration of their faith in Christ.  

Next we thought, although it is short notice, wouldn’t it  be great to do a Marriage Seminar?  We had been talking about Marriage on our nationwide radio program and had been getting more feedback than any other topic, so we decided to translate that into investment into our churches.  What we have become more aware of is the rampant divorce rate in Malawi. Despite being a Christian Country, Malawi struggles with an extremely high divorce rate probably resulting from people not having the money to register their marriages. Since marriages are easy to get into (agreement from both families = marriage), they are easy to get out of as well.  Most couples have never exchanged vows in a church in front of a Congregation. As the Seminar came closer, we thought that because of the short notice we would have low numbers.  Nope! Record turn out: More than 20 couples came.  It was so refreshing: each table was a group with a spokesperson addressing questions that we all dropped anonymously in a box when entering the room and picked at random.  We heard questions, some simple, some very gritty telling of people’s sincere problems.  It was such a memorable time, we decided to have a Marriage related event once a month.  

Another exciting breakthrough that took place was with the Sliva Family.  They have been here in Malawi for almost 3 years.  Matt is preparing for Ordination, and Lisa helps immensely with the ladies.  They approached us with the desire to help plant a church in a neighboring city.  Amazingly we had a vision to plant a church in the lake-front town of Salima, a place where we had done an evangelistic-crusade last year.  Pr Scibelli as well as others visited that crusade, and he promised that at this time next year we would have a church.  “Speaking those things that are not as though they were.” - Romans 4:17.  Well it is happening: we had an amazing trip there, so many things came together.  Contacts from every corner came together for the first Bible study.  The Sliva’s plan to travel to Salima bi-monthly. Its about 1 1/2 hours away by car.

Lastly was Bible College registration. Always a fun and exciting weekend. We had 34 new students and 82 students total on our first registration with another on the way. We are expecting to have over 200 students with many returning students coming for the first day of class and registration.  Pray for us as we add a new English class to fish hook students that want to come to Bible college but don't have a high enough level of English.  We are using some of our graduates to teach a 6 month Biblically themed English course required before attending normal classes.


December 31, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year: Arman 2018 YIR



Throughout the course of our lives we have circumstances that come and go.  Many of which rob our joy and have us focused in shortsightedness of what we are going through.  One great way to combat such thinking is to go through the past and recall some great things that God has done.  Psalm 68:19 - “Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” We as a family are so thankful for all the unspoken things that you have done for us, many things that we may not even know about, but God has led you.  The following things are a review of what God has done this past year that we do know about.

Jan - God miraculously spared a young child: Steven George Dulli from drowning in a local well.   If you recall, the 3 year old fell down an uncovered well and braced himself with his arms until help came. It was just his birthday 2 weeks ago.

Feb - We finally fulfilled a long standing desire - to do a mission trip to a Muslim City of Mangoci.  What we thought would be oppressive was, in fact, very open. We did sketch board and gave an opportunity for receiving Christ. At first it seemed like no one was receptive but a baby girl tied on the back of her mother raised her hand breaking the atmosphere and 6 others followed.


Mar - We had Brigida Calhoun, a Senior from Maryland Bible College, come for the Semester to stay and serve with us. 

April - We hosted our Annual Conference, Malawicon, with churches around the region visiting us. Visitors came from 8 different countries and had over 600 attendees. 93 students graduated from Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi all together.

May- We finished Bible College Classes and prepared to return to Baltimore. Our two new pastors took over for the Summer.


June - Our annual Convention took place in Baltimore. It was such a time of encouragement for all of us, especially our children reconnecting with their friends.


July - Our family visits a number of churches in North America: Marlboro, Utica, Houston, and Montreal.

Aug - We return to Africa and our girls begin learning in an American Christian School.

Sep - We receive the Sliva Family back in Malawi as well as my Parents for their 5th year living in Malawi. Bible College begins our 6th year.

Oct - We have a new addition to our team: Pr Albert and Mclean have a new baby girl, Nkumbu Chloe Ntalasha.

Nov - Craig Awad visits us for Thanksgiving from the Philippines and serves with us in the Church


Dec - Had our Christmas Banquet where our two churches come together to eat and fellowship.













-- 
God Bless You,
The Arman Family


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November 28, 2018

Thankfulness


       We have had an awesome month, full of excitement and ministry.  For many of us this month is a time to reflect on the many things for which we are thankful to God.  

Zamcon. Every October we bring our leaders to Zambia for a leadership conference joining the other churches in Southern Africa. This year was special because the Zambians had their graduation added to the conference.  It was such a joy to be part of the graduation; it was also a testimony to the faithfulness of God in the ministry.  To see the men and women that we played a role in training, continuing in the call of God and running the Bible School encouraged us thoroughly.


       Another ministry was added to our weekly schedule, a chapel service for the Public School that we rent our hall from.  It is so wonderful when God gives you favor with people that are around you.  The principal of the elementary school that we rent from is a magnificent Christian.  He has always spoken for us and argued even with his board not to raise our rent.  He has gone so far as to join our Bible College with his wife and loves every class.  He asked us if we could help the existing Bible clubs in the school, so once a week we have one grade and do a message for them.  Our hearts melted the first day we had the 5th grade students.  If you could imagine the same room that we struggle to fit 200+ adults in for Bible College, we fit about 300+ children without chairs; a room that was full of children was a gross understatement. It was astounding how the 2 women in charge of the Bible club could control those kids, what a lesson of classroom management; and to see the attentiveness and respect of these children.  To get the attention of the children the teachers would say, “Grade 5 Bible Club!” and the children would respond, “Fire, Fire, Fire!”  I assumed it meant the fire of the Holy Spirit, but it could have meant her wrath also the way the children were so well behaved.  The same women led all the children in some praise songs and the room thundered.  “Allow the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of heaven. – Matt 19:14.



       We are so thankful for our team that is here: my wife and 3 children, my parents, the Slivas, and the Ntalashas.  With all of our powers combined and the joy of the Lord, it produces an environment of mass edification, especially during holidays, gastronomically (food-wise).  The ladies on the team know how to cook well. Although there are many foods that can’t be found here, turkey is not one of them. In fact, the turkeys travelled internationally. The turkeys were shipped to our supermarket from North Carolina, and one of them laid his life down for us. We welcomed Craig Awad from the Philippines who is with us for the next 2 weeks.  He has treated us with great messages and his friendship for the past 20 years. 




       Thank you for your prayers and support.  We know nothing would be possible without them.  God hears them and acts. We have been asking you to pray with us about finding land for the church. We have found a potential place. It is about a ½ acre of land with a wall already around it, and it is literally 5 minutes from where we already are. The price is reasonable at about $15,000. It lies on the main road and there is a bus stop right in front of the door. The location is everything.  There are also 4 small houses built into the wall that our orphanage could move right into to guard the place. It feels like the right place, but we don’t want to go by our feelings.  We are in the process of vetting the place.  Frequently in Malawi, people sell land that is not even theirs to sell and run away with the money, so we are going very slowly. We have prayed the prayer of Isaiah 22:22 – if its God’s will that the door would be open and no one could shut it and if it is not His will that the door would be shut and no one could open it. Our church has slowly saving money for land since its inception and we saved about 1/3 of the money being asked by the owner.  We are currently negotiating with her to see if she will allow us to pay in installments. Please pray for us to have God’s wisdom and protection.


October 14, 2018

Sunday morning with the children- "Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it." Prov22:6

“We have some used children's curriculum that we would like to donate to Africa. Can you use them for your Sunday school program there?”

It’s a question we are often asked as we travel to different churches or visit with friends in the US.  To be honest, it is a hard question we find to answer. Of course we are so thankful and excited that you want to donate and help. The lack of curriculum and resources is one of the most common challenges that churches struggle with here.

One reason it would not work would be because it is all in English and even though a lot of Malawians speak English, it is not the main and first language of Malawi and most children will not learn it until later in School. So a local teacher would have to translate it.
When we first arrived in Malawi, we rented a room from a government orphanage, so our first church members were about 15 children and 4 adults. We then moved our location across the street where all the children followed so we had to quickly start a Sunday school program. 
I had a donated curriculum from the US and was ready to start using it. I opened to the first lesson: 

  Creation. 
Opening activity: attach a large sheet of paper to the wall. As children enter the classroom, give them crayons and have them draw a mural of all things God created. 

Well, we had NO classroom and no walls and no paper and certainly no crayons. A lot of the children were not even going to school at all. We ended up outside, under a tree and we sang some english and chichewa songs and had a story of the creation with a translator.
Most churches have no Sunday school budget, even we didn't at the time and still don’t.



I realized quickly that we couldn't find the right resources and that most of the US curriculum was irrelevant because most of the ideas wouldn't work as written.
And none of it was culturally appropriate either. American curriculums are full of cultural pictures and references. Superheroes, spies, science, circus, adventure sports, all these themes that most children here would not relate too. The curriculum’s application to children's lives in America and the issues the children here are dealing with are very different. 


What I have seen as well, is a local teacher using a US curriculum and thinking they will use it and assumes either the Americans will have to provide all the resources like room, paper, crayons, books, chairs, light, in order for them to do the job or they will think without them, they cannot do Sunday school at all.
 I know what most people could think: isn't any curriculum better than nothing at all? Very few teachers here are experienced teachers and they wouldn't know what to do with it or how to adapt it. We had one teacher go to teach the 7-9 year old class using his Bible College notes and I was trying to figure out how any of the children could even follow anything. 

So what’s the solutions. We bring paper, some craft supplies and even a small table and use an open classroom with no windows or doors and even have a translator.
  



Now we have started all again; lack of teachers, children not coming consistently, and other factors led us to regroup. My mother in law started teaching a smaller class focusing on the most disruptive, problem children - the 3-4 year olds. It is a total miracle. These misfits would constantly run up and down the aisle making the ushers chase them. Amazingly, they all enjoy the Sunday school and are looking forward to it. Noah woke up saying, “Sunday School, Sunday School with Grandma!”




October 06, 2018

Beautiful things happen when we trust God...

Its been over a month of us being back in our home or second home (depending how we look at it-really our home is heaven and we are just passing through). We are so thankful for everyone’s love this summer: a special thanks to our home church in Baltimore for more than ever making us feel loved and blessing us in so many ways. From the Convention in June to the end of Camp Life in August, we were blessed in a manifold way. Thank you to all the branch ministries we visited and each church member receiving us as royalty.

We left with our possessions for the coming year, but more so with excitement to see what God will do this year. We come back to two Malawian pastors ( Pr Yamika and Malrone) who actually pastored our church in my absence this summer. We also return to Pr. Albert & Mclean Ntalasha, Zambian and Ugandan missionaries to Malawi who have another Greater Grace church in the Eastern part of Lilongwe. Mclean is close to being due with their 2nd child. Their marriage is a reflection of God’s work on the Continent. We are also joined by Matt and Lisa Sliva who are returning to Malawi having previous lived here for 2 years in 2015-2016. As always my Parents will also be returning to Malawi in one week which makes their 4th year living here. They are amazing, choosing to retire (if you want to call it that) in Malawi. In actuality they have such vigor and life. They spearhead our prayer program.






Already our life has gone through some drastic changes, for which we would covet your prayers . The biggest change is that we put our two daughters in a Christian school after homeschooling them for their whole lives. The school is a great one, run by American & South African Missionaries. The girls already love their classes and are transitioning well. Although it is a huge financial investment, we have seen God working in their lives and we see God connecting us to the Christian community more and more.





The other change is in the church. We have a church that has many mature members who have graduated Bible College and are looking for direction. We have learned that if you have many gifted people that they may stagnate if they do not exercise their gift. We are praying for wisdom and for God to speak to where these graduates may go. We have 4 major cities on our radar for future churches so we want to build wisely.
Amazingly the interest in the Bible College has not waned. It has continued to grow and we are at close to 240 students. We do no advertising, but by word of mouth; students are coming in and learning the Word of God from over 20 different churches. We have 8 Malawian graduates teaching in the Bible College.

Prayer Requests
-    Greatest Semester of Bible College with every class being anointed
-    God’s hand on our children in school
-    Wisdom for the next church plants (inside and Outside the city)
-    Trip to Zambia happening now for the annual conference and graduation about 9 of us are going.