Further adventures of a missionary (July 2013)

The three of us (Rupert Freese, Peter & Adrie Lord) set off for Malawi on 7th July 2013. We flew from Cape Town to Lilongwe in Malawi. We met the two Malawi brothers – Fredson & Macnel and drove to Kazuni Lake
The cigarette lighter on our vehicle was stuck in its socket so we could not charge our GPS so we had to use it sparingly. As a result we missed the turn to Rumphi and the journey took eight hours instead of six. We arrived at the gate of the park where we were to sleep at nine at night to find the gate locked this time. So instead of going through the gate we drove through the big hole in the fence into the park.
We drove to the area of the staff quarters and honked our horn but there was no movement. It was cold so nobody wanted to get out of bed! Fortunately we knew this time where the chalets were and we could drive straight there. Again no water in the chalets just like the last time.
The next day we went to the CHILOMBO church. We ministered all day about repentance from the dead works, how it is nothing that we can do that brings us to Christ we must just submit to him and let him do the work in our lives.

We were surprised and honoured at the reception that was accorded to Adrie. They were really pleased to see the wife of one of the believers. It was to them as if we were proud of the fellowship there (which we are) and we wanted to bring our wives with us to show the strength and the commitment of our new brothers in Christ. Adrie has put her own impression of the visit in a separate article in the blog. (access the article via this Link)
We returned to the game park at 6 having ministered all day to a church that was packed with eager believers. The  hunger for knowledge the ease with which they received and the wonder on the faces as they get the revelation is a true joy to behold and makes the whole trip worthwhile.
Still no water at the game park. After a strong word two buckets arrived- one for the toilet and one to be used to wash. The luxuries of missionary work!
We ministered at CHILOMBO for two full days to a full church on both days on how repentance of sin will not bring us to salvation. Only a turning away from the world and the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and master will result in us being born again.
After Chilombo we drove for nine hours to MalawiLake where we spent one night in a lodge on the Lake shore before travelling to Blantyre the next day.

In Blantyre we were hosted by the Mc Grath Family in their cottage. What a blessing on the mission trip and a big thank you for their selfless hospitality.
We started ministering at the Blantyre mission church of Chilimbaon Friday morning to 22 of the senior believers from all around Malawi and North West Mozambique. The ministry was to be on repentance from dead works, the ministerial gifts of Christ, and end times.
I wrote this when our ministry was in the planning stage as we arrived at Chilimba. The Holy Spirit had a different idea. We never got on to end times. There was a rift in the local fellowship and a whole day was spent on ministry on problems in a fellowship and how they get sorted out and that there is only strength in unity. We ask all readers of the blog to pray for this rift in the Chilimba fellowship to be healed as it keeps rearing its ugly head.
The believers braved same very cold and unseasonably wet weather for the first two days and listened with rapt attention to the Word that the Lord had for them. We give thanks that the Malawiwork is maturing and that young believers filled with the Holy Spirit are being raised up.
The believers sleep on mats on the dirt floor of the church while they stay there for bible study. The toilet is a long drop. The washing place and urinal are one and the same tiny building next to the long drop. Food is cooked for all 22 people by 3 woman on a fire in open ground. Water is collected in large pots from a tap some 500 meters away.

Most of the believers are subsistence farmers who in worldly terms have nothing. The average income of those present at the bible study is R500/month and they keep their whole family on that!

While they have nothing they have Jesus in their hearts. It begs the question why do the more developed countries who have (compared to them) everything continually bemoan their lot in life and still do not have Jesus in their hearts! We need to be poor in worldly things and rich in the Spirit! 

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A missionary trip to Malawi perceived by a woman, 7-17th July 2013

My first impressions of Malawi was “So many people all milling around along the main road.” Time is of no essence in Malawi – no competition or pushing for our patronage as we stopped at different street vendors to buy supplies.

Rupert showed a side of his character that I doubt many know about – he loves to drive at exceedingly high speeds over treacherous terrain – must be his chance to relive his youth. By the grace of our Lord we arrived safely at Lake Kazuni. 

Rustic is an understatement to describe the accommodation with no water, electricity or candles. Wind was howling through gaps in the reeds and open hole windows. Further, with the constant sifting of fine debris from the equally shabby grass roof, not much sleep was enjoyed. Must say the sounds of hippos; almost all through the night right next to our rondaval; made up for the lack in the accommodation.

Meeting the fellowship at Kazuni and seeing the church the built was an experience. We counted 85 children under the age of 10. ± 8-10 children per family. We were so warmly welcomed and their singing to the Lord was wonderful. Our meals consisted of goat meat and rice which was served in the leader’s house (two rooms) with chickens happily hatching eggs in the corner.

They asked about Alex and François and told us they have arranged a wife for Alex Peter and Rupert taught on repentance from dead works and I so enjoyed watching how through acting and repetitive teaching over a period of two days the understanding seemed to come. 

The woman each have a baby in arms and a toddler at their side so how much they receive of God’s word is questionable. Everyone at the meeting  ±120 people got fed in order of rank. The Azungus (white people) first as honoured guests and children last.

On our way to Blantyre we overnight at a place at Lake Malawi, Palm Springs resort. Fredson and Macnell said they thought they had arrived in heaven that evening, as we enjoyed a good hearty western home-cooked meal. I am sure the running hot water, electricity, decent beds and a room sheltered from the cold night air contributed to their remark. The next day we left for Blantyre…again, the challenge to avoid potholes, dogs, goats, pedestrians and other livestock. Rupert’s driving skills are really one to be admired by even a Formula 1 driver. Through the Lords protection, the only life along the road that was lost was that of a single chicken.

In Blantyre the church building has just been completed with a brand new roof in place. Words cannot explain the condition of even the road leading into the township to the church. If Sam (owner of the car rental company) had not upgraded Rupert to a 4×4 (free of charge) I do not know how we would have managed. Again, the Lord undertook for his children doing his work.

During the four days of Bible School it was as if I was in the time of Paul writing to the Corinthians. The same issues had to be addressed. Men elevating themselves, selfishness, family conflict and splitting the fellowship into two camps. On the fourth day the Holy Spirit took over. Men were breaking down and the Lord’s love for a contrite heart and broken spirit came shining forth.

Surely it can only be the love of Christ that constraineth men to carry out His work. 11 Corinthians 5v14 and 15: And henceforth no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again. 

Please sisters in Christ these men need all our support and constant prayers. 
Your sister in Christ

Adrie Lord

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Malawi Mission November 2012

Rupert wakes up at 5-45 and leaves the farm (he is in Natal) at 6-30 for an easy drive to King Shaka Airport for a flight at 8-50. 

The easy one hour drive turns into a nightmare following a crash on the freeway!

Arriving at the airport at 8-20 he still has the hire car to return and he gets to the check-in desk at 8-30 only to be told that the flight is closed. As this was his only chance of connecting with the flight to Malawi from Johannesburg some prayer and a heavy dose of pleading yielded the desired seat on the plane.
Arriving in Johannesburghe was met by Alex and Peter and the trio booked in for the flight to Lilongwe. Having completed all the procedures we moved to passport control at which point we checked our boarding passes only to find we had been booked to Blantyreinstead of Lilongweso back to the check-in desk. Don’t worry the boarding passes are okay it is the system we were reliably informed.
The plane was scheduled to take us to Lilongwevia Blantyre in the end it left an hour late and took us vie Lusakawith no explanation. This is Africa relax and get used to it.
At Lilongwewe were met at the airport by our hire car and driver. We left for the town centre to drop off the driver and collect our two faithful brothers in Christ Fredson and Macnell. We eventually left Lilongweat 18-30 for a 480 km journey through deepest darkest Africa to Kazuni Lake. No problem we were travelling on a national road and the GPS was forecasting that we would arrive at 23-30. With Rupert driving we could even get there at 22-00. Little did we know!
Lots of traffic and people and bikes on the road. Normal traffic rules are only loosely applied. The cyclist with a passenger with a full roll of carpet on his head. The cyclist with a bench tied crosswise to the back of his bike. The cyclist with a two meter stack of firewood. The bucky with no lights but no problem they had tied a torch to the bonnet and this on a national road equivalent to our freeways.
First big problem no diesel in Malawi or no honest diesel there is some black market stuff available. Second problem the engine warning light had come on. We were just over halfway and it was 22-00. We managed to buy diesel from a friend of the garage attendant at 30% over the usual rate. Checked the oil no problem.
The people at the garage were amazed that we were proceeding to Kazuni at that time of night we were surprised as it was only 150 km further we had not realised that the national road became a dirt road after this and a very poor African road only fit for 4×4 travel. 20 km Out of the town and the bucky started to slow down and the engine light stayed on. We figured that it might have been dirty diesel put in before we got the car.
We soldiered on getting slower and slower until in the end we were doing 40 km an hour. We got to a bridge just outside Kazuni at 2-00 am! Drove onto the bridge slowly and the front wheels fell through the timbers. Managed to back off the bridge. See photos. 

Remember when looking at the photos that we were crossing in the dead of night with only a torch and a couple of hundred mosquitoes to assist.  

After some pretty deft reconstruction work by our resident civil engineer we managed to get across not one but two of these bridges a feat that even Bruce Willis would have been proud of.

We arrived at the gates to the Big 5 game park where we were staying at 02-30. Gates were shut- obviously. Imagine arriving at the Kruger Parkgates at 2-30 in the morning! What were we to do? Remember this is Africa so we got out of the car and pushed the unlocked gates open and motored in.

We drove around for some fifteen minutes looking for signs of our accommodation before we were eventually stopped by a chap with an AK47 standing in the middle of the road. What to do remember this is Africa so we stick our heads and bark “where is our accommodation.”
By three we were tucked up in bed under mosquito nets after a quick Portuguese shower (no water in the main shower). We were serenaded to sleep by a herd of hippos who sounded as if they were right outside the front door of our chalets- chalet is a very generous term for the standard of accommodation!

Woke up at 7-00 the next morning to superb view across Lake Kazuni. Before we left at 10-00 we had seen impala herd, kudu cows, 20 hippos, warthog family, pelicans, storks, four kudu bulls and three separate elephant sighting’s the last one being a herd of about 70 certainly the largest it has been my privilege to see. It is tough in Africa!

The two gentlemen that we had arranged to meet from the Kazuni Church Readson and Frank arrived at the park at 9-00 and we enjoyed an hour of getting to know each other sharing our vision for the ministry of Christ with no bishop’s vicars or pastors. This is at odds with the often held view in Malawiwhen visiting “white” people are seen as purveyors of gifts. When we asked Readson what he wanted from us he replied bible, hymn books and plastic for the roof Christ was not mentioned. We quoted from Acts 3, 1-11.

How Readson got hold of us is a story in itself. Five years earlier he had been in Blantyrewhen a friend of his who was in the Central African Assemblies had said that if you are ever in need of a man of God then phone Rupert on this number. Readson had since left Blantyreand proceeded to make his home some 800 km further north.

On arriving there he found no church so he decided to start his own. His ministry was so successful that he was joined by four other churches. He had now got to the point in his ministry where the Lord prompted him to look for help. How he had managed to keep Rupert’s number and then to find it after five years only the Lord knows. So he phoned Rupert and asked for help. We must remember that the nearest Central African church was in Blantyre 800 km to the South.
So what does Rupert do? Being the faithful servant that he is he says no problem I will put a team together and we will fly from Cape Town to Lilongwe and we will get two brothers from Blantyre to catch a bus up to Lilongwe and then we will all jump into a vehicle and drive for 480 km to come and see you.
We had also realised at this stage that our 4×4 with a top speed of now 30 km per hour due to the blocked fuel filter was not going to get us back to Lilongwe. We were faced with challenging telecoms as there was no reception in the park and it was essential that we got a new vehicle for us to be able to meet our already tight schedule and get back to the Convention in Blantyre on time for our planned ministry there.
What I have pictured here is a one day snapshot the wildlife was an unexpected blessing. We rarely get fun like that! The hassles are a daily event. The real blessing is being allowed to preach the gospel to people and to see a response as they accept Jesus into their lives and then grow in their knowledge of the Lord. Despite all the hassles when Alex and I returned to SA we both found that we battled to settle down and adjust to what we would euphemistically call normal life as our spirits were at peace in Malawi.

I was woken up at 06h00 by Godwin (the cook) wanting the food for breakfast with me having spent a miserable night with four mosquitoes that flew through the holes in the mosquito net. Still no water in the shower. 

But it is a glorious day thank the Lord. Drove to the Chilombo Fellowship for a 09h00 start. (The hire company had driven a new 4×4 the 530 km  up to us with a mechanic to strip out the whole fuel system on the old 4×4 and then drive it back.)

A single song (that is very unusual in itself in Africa but they were keen to get to the ministry after the ministry the day before and we were on a very strict timetable) and then into ministry on John 3- you need to make a decision to come to Jesus and be born again and 70 people do so by 10h00. We had been ministering and sharing all the day before as the Lord prepared the ground for His seeds to be planted.
Set off from Chilombo for the 530 km drive to Lilongwe. We do not like leaving any of the fellowships in a hurry but in this case we needed to catch the 16h50 flight from Lilongwe to Blantyre.
We drove halfway looking for diesel with no luck. Malawi had run out of diesel. This is a normal occurrence due to the shortage they have with foreign currency. We were running very tight for time with our GPS showing that we would arrive at the airport 25 minutes before the flight. The only way we could get diesel however was by turning off the road and travelling 15 km in the wrong direction to where we knew we could get black market diesel.
This delayed us by 40 minutes and the GPS showed an arrival time at the airport 15 minutes after the plane was due to leave. Rupert switched to turbo drive and we all started praying. We overtook a large truck doing 120 km s an hour and he started swerving to the right forcing us onto the dirt at the side of the road which would have been fine apart from the donga that we were going to hit. Some superb driving by Rupert and we are certain the helping hand of the Lord and we survived it.
Despite all the crazy driving the GPS said that we would only arrive at the airport as the plane was taking off and we still had to return the hire car. We had to be in Blantyrethat night as we were ministering at the Malawi Convention the following day.
What to do. Most important thing continue to pray! We then phoned the hire company and asked them to phone the airport to delay the plane. Impossible- to delay a national carrier only the President can do that but we do not realise the awesome power of the Lord.

We arrived at the airport ten minutes before the plane was due to leave left the car keys with the ticket clerk and boarded the bus which had been held waiting for our arrival to take us to the plane to take us to Blantyre-thank you Lord! But please never a drive like that again.

On arrival in Blantyrewe took Fredson and Macnell our two translators to the church. They had phoned their friends at the church two hours earlier to tell them where we were which was a town about 600 km from Blantyre so they could not believe it when they arrived. They kept asking how and they replied the Lord.

The full story of the flight was only explained the following day to a rapturous reception as nobody there had ever flown before as these are mainly subsistence farmers from the rural areas to whom flights are just dreams.

We left for our own accommodation which was in a cottage in the grounds of one of the original colonial houses of Blantyre owned by the McGrath’s. A huge thank you to them for the wonderful cottage which was a real privilege after the privation of our accommodation in the North.

The three of us sat back on the stoep and cried in joy and in thanks at the glory and the power of the Lord – we serve an awesome God! I cannot explain the joy and love felt by the three of us in that time of prayer and worship. After all we had been through nobody ever got stressed as we knew that the Lord was in control all the time because we loved Him and we were about His work!  

If this Blog has created a spark inside you and you are interested in serving the Lord as part of a mission team please contact Rupert Freese on 083 799 5522. Mission teams normally leave Durban and Johannesburg twice a year in 4×4 convoys to minister the wonderful word of the Lord to communities in Mozambique and Malawi. We are hoping to go up more often and possibly do fly-in’s as on this trip, it depends on the number of volunteers.

Report & Photos by Peter Lord.

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