As we come to the end of our first four years in Malawi, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on all that God has done. I can’t help but be incredibly thankful, first and foremost, for the Malawian brothers and sisters God has filled our team with. Most of you have never met them, but they are the ones doing the real work to reach their own people. It’s my privilege to help deploy them to do it.
Secondly, I’ve been filled with fresh excitement and vision for where God is leading us in the future. I will be sharing this with you over the coming months, but there is a clear sense that we are just getting started with what God has planned.
I mostly expected to go into our first stateside assignment (furlough) exhausted and on the edge of burn out, and while I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired, I almost feel like I shouldn’t go because there is so much that God has given me a passion to do.
Yet it is good and right that we come visit you and share with you about these things face-to-face. I am certain it has been your prayers that God has used to sustain us for these four years, and he will continue to use them until he calls us in maybe 20-30 years to lay down our responsibilities here and pass them to others.
Sending out church planting teams
Over the past two days, we sent out our 7 Shepherds Academy candidates for graduation on their final church planting projects. We split these young men into three teams, going to Mangochi, Chiradzulu, and Thyolo districts.
We have previously planted only one church each in these districts, and the task of the church planting teams are to go into these districts for two weeks, preach widely, and do initial discipleship with those who believe. Each team has a supervisor who is either a district coordinator or mission staff member. These supervisors will return to these groups of new believers over the coming months to form them into fully-functioning churches.
Pray for these teams as they work in Muslim-dominated or remote areas. They will return from their projects on June 9, and we will celebrate with graduation on June 11, our second graduating class of Shepherds Academy.
Gathering the pastors and teaching Romans
In May, we held our second pastors schools for the year. This was the first time we had held a school in the Lower Shire due to Cyclone Ana in January. Most of the families in the Lower Shire have now recovered from the disaster, and we were able to meet with 72 pastors at the Lower Shire campus and 73 the following week in Zomba.
I finished the book of Romans, having taught chapters 1–8 during two previous modulars, while Isaac taught on spiritual gifts.
We have been praying that God would grant greater unity among our partner churches, both doctrinally and within our mission. Over these two weeks, we really felt like God was beginning to answer that prayer, as we sense a growing maturing among these men.
We will be seeing many of you soon.
June is upon us, which means it is almost time for our family to travel for our seven months of stateside assignment in the U.S. We will be arriving in the U.S. on June 21.
Please, pray for us as we travel, and continue to pray as we recover from travel and try to settle into our temporary home in Murray, Kentucky. Pray specifically for our kids, that they would handle the transition well and adjust well to life in the U.S. We are doing our best to prepare them (and ourselves) for what is known as “reverse culture shock,” which people often experience when they’ve been outside of their passport culture for a time and then return. It’s a much more difficult transition than most people realize.
After a brief break, I will begin traveling on Sundays to share with many of your churches about what God is doing through Gospel Life. I hope to see many of you at the churches below during the month of July. Please make sure you take the time to come, shake my hand, and say hi.