November 13, 2020

The Power of Perspective



A few weeks ago,  a lot of things in our house seemed to be getting harder. We started homeschooling again and to have our kids with us everyday was definitely an adjustment in our lives again. And it seemed that they were making everything more difficult. The more I pushed the more frustrated I became. Complaints started coming out of my mouth. I would think back to before this whole mess of a virus happened and wished to set back time to when the kids were out of the house and in school.
 

Deep down I knew I had to bring myself back to the present and take time to appreciate the little things in my life. But sometimes it’s just hard to stop the complaints or the frowning.
Today, it’s too hot. There is no water again; the power (electricity) has been out all day and I could go on and on with our daily here in Malawi...
In our house we can say we have a few different cultures going on. The French one, the Greek one (or I will say a very strong European one ­čśé)and a strong American culture. But we’ve embraced a bit of an African one, we eat their food and I will wear a chitenji (African cloth) around my waste when I just want to be respectful.
We meet with people that have different views than us everyday. The culture here is even different than anything I knew growing up. Do I try to change people because they are different than me? Do I get bitter because no one understands my point of view?
I’ve had people criticize the fact that I wear pants and as a missionary I shouldn’t. Will it make me stop talking to people and reach out to them?
Yes we will explain why I feel free to wear or do certain things. But will I try to change the way they behave or what they eat because it’s not how We do it? Certainly not! We will rejoice together in God’s word and finding common understanding. We will rejoice in what God says on a subject. I’m thankful everyday for the many friends I’ve made over the years from many different cultures.

Learning to turn to God and finding gratitude in my heart has been a hard learned lesson.
It’s easy for me to be a situational grateful person. When everything is right in the world.
But sometimes, we seem to never be satisfied with what we have. But what a difference it makes when we realize that everything has been given to us by God.

 “Wealth and honor come from you … We give you thanks, and praise your glorious name … Everything comes from you”
1 Chronicles 29:12-14


And I want to thank God for the People in our lives. It is so easy to take people for granted, or be upset with friends because of different views.
 

How does someone get a daily spirit of thanksgiving in their heart? I'm still learning this and trying to make it a daily habit: by starting each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.
 

And gratitude is the quickest way to bring my perspective back.

“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” Psalm 147:7
“Be thankful” Colossians 3:15

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

 


With Love from Malawi

 XXX   Julie 



        P.S. The following are a few pictures from our weekend in Senga Bay (Lake Malawi) Greater Grace Church along with this incredible story of the Faithfulness of God. One of the women of the Senga bay church waited for her 7 year old son to come home from playing in the neighborhood. As hours rolled by, she began to get worried. By evening, calls were being made and the pastors of the Senga Bay Church, Pr. Matt Sliva, Pr Felix Malute, and Pr Bart Magwaza were putting the prayer chain on alert. We posted the request of the missing boy on our College prayer group and went to work. Ususal circumstances, especially in a smaller community like Senga Bay, would be that the boy was just playing and stayed at a friend's house without notifying his mother. In fact, this is what we were all hoping for, but the outcome was far more frightening and also miraculous as the story ultimately unfolded. Early the next morning, a middle age man brought the boy, unharmed, back to his home. The man alleged that he had found the boy wandering around the market that morning. After being pressed and even some of the other neighborhood children claiming that they had seen the man the day before with the boy, he finalled came clean with the truth. A group of fishermen had hired him to abduct a child and use him for a ritual sacrifice to help their fishing businesses improve. The reward for him would be the equivalent of $800 which would be about a years salary for that people of that area. Miraculously when he brought the boy to the group, they rescinded the offer and said they were no longer interested. The man decided to bring the boy back home, knowing full well he would be beaten and arrested. The Lord's hand could be seen in every step, prayer is so powerful. We met the boy's mother at the church that Sunday and praised the Lord together. Psalm 106:1 O give thanks unto the Lord, for His mercy endures forever

 

         Memories and tribute to Pr Luigi (and family- we love you!)


 

From Chris:
When I first met Pr Luigi, it was on my first trip to Africa as a 19 year-old. I had come to Africa to get away from a broken relationship, Pr Luigi was such a friend without knowing the healing he was giving. He was larger than life, a friend to all, always fun, always joking. He made mission life seem fun. He and his family invited me in their house and made me feel a part of their family, the same way they did for all those around them. I remember their home always had an open gate and a ping-pong table on the back patio. Young people were always coming and going through the gate playing and fellowshipping, not realizing that God was using Pr Luigi to build them up. Just from the few days spent with Pr Luigi and the beautiful people in his church, I ended up moving to West Africa the next year and lived with the Palmeri family for a month. I can say he and his family were a enormous influence of me and my family doing missions in Africa for the past 14 years.


From Julie,
My earliest memory of the Palmieri family and one of our first church services with my family at the Bible Speaks Church (what our church was called in N├«mes, France in the 80s and early 90s) was when the Palmieri family was prayed for when they first went to Togo (1990). I was 12. What great stories we would wait to hear about Africa and the yearly summer visits from our friends. 

My mom was the first one of us to visit them in 1993 then my brother visited a few years later. In all the years it was just a wish and a prayer to go and visit them. It never happened for me until the one year they moved back to France (LOL) in January 2003. Pr Luigi came for the conference while Chris and I were visiting and I remember thanking God he was (finally) there in Togo as it was my first time in Africa and we were the only white people around lol. I remember suffering from the heat and the humidity. We were all staying in their (former palmieri’s) house with Pr Paul’s family and I didn’t want to offend anyone by saying I was hot ­čśé Pr Luigi was finally there and was laughing at my suffering while turning all the fans on and moving my bed directly under the ceiling fan :well duh I said, you just saved my life right here Pr Luigi!”
 

We ended up in Africa as a family and I know they have been a great influences for us as a family with children on the continent. In all the years they’ve both been such an encouragement and examples to us. 

We will miss your many jokes and preaching of the Word. We will miss seeing you Pr Luigi until we meet again.

 

October 31, 2020

...Suffer it so for now... Matthew 3:15

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It has been quite unique learning how to live in this current climate.  As we began our new Bible College year’s Registration, this verse kept coming in my mind: Matthew 3:15 – “…Suffer it so for now…”.  John the Baptist didn’t feel worthy to baptize Jesus Christ, but rather than argue, Jesus did what He always did so well, gave a perfect, simple answer. This is what He gives us in these strange days, and His simple answer quiets our uncertain hearts: Suffer it so for now. 

We held our registration outside in 4 waves of people.  Our plan is to do all classes online by Whatsapp by having our teachers record their classes and then have the students listen to them.  By God’s grace we will resume live classes by the end of October.  It was amazing that in spite of it all, we had 160+ registered students. 


 

A week after the registration, we also held our graduation.  The Malawian government has made an exemption for churches to continue as long as there are 100 people or less. Our Bible College fit into that category.  We had the grace to comply with all the government requirements and still be successful. We did 3 ceremonies: degree, diploma, and certificate.  We took everyone’s temperature, had hand washing stations, required everyone to be masked, only allowed each graduate one guest, and had a closed door ceremony with 70 people or less.  My father was the guest speaker and like a champ, spoke three messages for all three ceremonies. God faithfully answered our prayers, the ceremonies were anointed and graduates were blessed. 





The way to the Malawi/Zambia border is a peaceful route through cornfields and small villages, but what we were attempting was something closer to an episode of a spy thriller action movie.  Our task was to try to get Pr. Renaldo in Malawi when the country was not receiving tourists. As Pr. Yami and I got in the car that would take us to the border, we had a glimmer of hope that God would open doors for us.  What we saw was that God uses people to open His doors.  Pr. Renaldo was doing a tour to visit the churches in Eastern and Southern Africa for much needed encouragement after being shut down because of the pandemic. As Pr. Renaldo was approaching the Zambia/Malawi border town, we had a few hours to be the spiritual John the Baptists and prepare the way for him to enter, each step was miracle after miracle.  Lyton Kalua, one of our Deacons, had a childhood friend that is an officer in the immigration office.  We started by calling him.  We said that the visiting pastor was part of an "essential service" to encourage the church.  Thus began a 7 hour process to get Pr. Renaldo into Malawi.  We met with the head immigration officer at the border post.  We connected him to Deacon Lyton's friend.  After a few hours we finally welcomed Pr. Renaldo through the Zambian border but still not able to get into Malawi.  We were told that there had to be permission given from the Head Immigration Office. As we sat for almost 4 hours at the bench just outside the head border officials office, the door cracked open and the officer informed us that if we could send pictures and complete forms the visa would be out.  Just as he was leaving for the day, a message came into his phone informing him that Pr. Renaldo was approved.  He quickly signed his name and stamped Pr. Renaldo's passport.  I reached into my backpack and brought out a brand new Bible.  "This office could use a new Bible, don't ya think?"  The immigration official nodded in agreement with a big smile and received the Bible - Pr. Renaldo was in!!! Not only was he in, but his Tourist Visa was the first one since the Pandemic began.  Pr Renaldo spent about 5 days with us but it was packed: a midweek service, 2 Leadership meetings, a Wedding, and a joint Sunday service with our 4 Lilongwe branches.  As quick as he came was as quick as he was gone, what remained was another testament of the hand of God. We saw clearly that God is in control of even minute details.  We know it in theory, but again we saw it in practice.
Since then we have sent my parents back to Baltimore, reopened Bible College, and began rebuilding the church member by member.  Pr. Renaldo's messages were so timely: it's time to walk with God, whether it be in a mountain or valley, we can have His mind for whatever situation.

Pastor Malrone and Emmy's Wedding
Leadership with Pr Renaldo

New Church Plot -Tombwe Church -Lilongwe









July 26, 2020

Winter in Africa



It is the first time in 10 years that we have been in a winter.  We have Covid to thank for that, although we know God works all things together for good. The borders in Malawi remain closed so we see God's leading in remaining here for the summer/winter. God has definately done that. It has been great to visit the churches that have been planted around the city. Every week we have been visiting a different church of the 4 that are in the city of Lilongwe.




A very great answer to prayer has happened.  The past year has been an uncertain one politically here in Malawi.  The incumbent president had his re-election nullified because of multiple anomalies of cheating and vote stealing.  There have been a number of protests, both peaceful and violent which led us to a re-run election.  Amazingly, the contender won election and the incumbent president handed over power without any bloodshed.  It was really miraculous.  The new president is a pastor and believes that God has called him to pastor the people in his country.  We thank you for your prayers and ask for more prayers to help him deal with the Covid problem and other issues. 


We lost on of our Founding members a few weeks ago. It was a shock to us all. Jason Lambike was one of the first men we met when we evangelized at the Main Post Office in Lilongwe.  He was there at our first service and was one of our first graduates.  He was a quiet, hardworking man who loved the Word of God.  Even after his graduation he continued to come to class to receive the word.  He also was an amazing Fisher of Men.  He was always with us on the streets as we gave people the Gospel.  Our loss is Heaven's gain, as we saw an incredible turn out at His funeral.  Even though his funeral was one of the most interesting funerals I have ever experienced, Christ was preached.  Funerals in Malawi, have always been of paramount importance to the community.  Jason's funeral brought over 500 people from his neighborhood into his front yard.  If you have never been to a Malawian funeral, it is deeply moving to see all the support from the community.  We lifted up the Character of Christ as Jason would have loved and preached the Gospel of God's Love for all to hear. Many Muslims were in attendance and heard God's love.

Jason Tesso Lembike
His funeral attendance

As the Corona Virus increases in Malawi, we are still trying to have normalcy in a responsible way.  We began playing football/soccer in our community as a way of outreach.  Many of us with facemasks as we are running around, we close the game with a time of the Word. Some young people hear the Bible and are drawn to the church.  




Please pray for us, we are trying to put together a Covid compliant Graduation.  Like everyone around the world, we have had to cancel our annual conference and graduation.  We are planning to have 3 socially distant ceremonies to celebrate our 120 graduates.  Each group will have under 100 in the large room with doors shut after students and 1 guest each are in attendance.




              Area 36-Tumbwe at our church new plot - Outdoor service













Area 25 GG Church- 26.07.20




With Love from Malawi

June 27, 2020

Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net...

...that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind... Matt. 13:47


This past weekend in Senga Bay,  we visited our Greater Grace sister Church, located in the middle of a fishing village right on Lake Malawi.