While I enjoyed my time in Kenya, (except for the Malaria) I was anxious to get started with the work in Malawi. Even though I had been to the Malawian Embassy in the States, I still needed a piece of paper from the Malawian government in Blantrye to give me legal status to do missionary work in the country. I had to fly into the country several times to meet with government officials to secure legal permission. The first rules you learn about Africa are; 1-You hurry up and wait, 2-You have to grease many palms to get anything accomplished. Africa even has a thorn bush named, ‘Wait-a-bit’. How appropriate, as once snagged by the bush, that is all you can do, is wait-a-bit. (Big 2″ thorns)
I stayed at Mt. Soche hotel across the street from a government office. While the hotel was nice and built for the tourism industry, I had the distinct feeling that someone was watching my room, and my comings and goings from the hotel. The government did not allow anything negative to be spoken about the life president. To prevent this they had
spies everywhere making sure no one crossed any lines. If someone did, they simply were arrested and eventually disappeared. There are advantages to being a dictator, at least for the dictator.
After three trips from Kenya to Malawi, I finally secured the necessary documents allowing me to work in the country as a missionary. So now I needed to find a place for the family to live, so I could bring them into the country. I found what was called a ‘Flat’ or we would call an apartment. It was one bedroom, small, but sufficient to get us on site until we could find better and larger living arrangements.
That flat was owned by an Indian lady, a widow of a former government employee. She immediately took a liking to the family and leased us the flat on a monthly basis until we found a larger place to live. When we did move into a larger three bedroom house, she gave us three dogs for protection, as she was returning to England. I would find people like her everywhere I went who were there to help pave the way for the mission work.
The family settled into the flat and I was off and running. I had more opportunities to preach and teach that I could possibly take advantage of. Fortunately the Lord provided the help I needed through the Full Gospel Business Men’s Association. Through this Christian group I received many invitations to preach in meetings where various government officials were in attendance. This gave me immediate recognition and favor in high places and in turn opened many more doors to share the message. Then when our goods arrived via ship from America, the Custom official who did the inspection of the crates, was also associated both with government officials and with men in the FGMA. Talk about coincidence? I don’t think so. God says in Isaiah 45:2-3, I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” God had sent His angel before me as in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Our goods were quickly whisked through customs and delivered by a ‘lorry’ to the three bedroom house we had found for rent. This Customs inspector would later become my national superintendent and greatly aided me in finding the right men to train as district leaders over those who would become pastors. The foundation for growth happened quickly and as we started traveling into these districts preaching the Word, we saw a hunger for the Word that I had never experienced Stateside. The church grew at a phenomenal rate soon numbering several thousand being baptized and finding their Lord personally. I then had to focus on training these pastors and district leaders in the basic knowledge of the Bible and how to operate as a group. Again the right men showed up at the right time and soon English literature and tracts were being translated into Chichewa for the nationals to use in teaching their sheep. I hit the ground running and kept picking up the pace. By the end of four years I was exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally.
There was this one national who drug me before many different government offices falsely accusing; I was supposed to be receiving clothes from America for the national church and then selling it and pocketing the money, or pocketing money that I was suppose to buy motorcycles for all the pastors, or I was suppose to buy all the pastors houses, and many other such things. None of which were true. Because he was Malawian and I was American, then when an accusation was received by a governmental official, then they had an obligation to investigate it in case it was true. At the same time, my name was known throughout the top levels of government and the accusations were always dismissed. However, I had to take time out of my busy schedule and attend these meetings. Paul says in II Timothy 4:14, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” I had my Alexander and felt the same way as Paul.
The final straw was when he had visited a Witchdoctor to have a curse placed upon a ‘root’ making an attempt to place it in my house. I had been kneeling and praying at my chair the day of his arrival. I did not know that he was coming for a visit, but the Lord did. He spoke to me that I should not let this national into my house. As I was questioning this directive, there was the knock on my front door. I answered the door and when he asked to come in, I politely told him what the Lord had said. he then began to give me scripture about how Jesus would give Him a glass of water. I told him that I was not Jesus, but the gardner would give him a glass of water down at the servant quarters. I shut the door as he started to make another argument. He stood there for awhile and then I saw him speaking with the gardner. I went back to praying and thanking the Lord for His guidance.
A week later one of my district leaders came to see me and in the conversation I discovered that this national had ridden the bus with my district leader that day he had come to my house. He had bragged about how he had been to the Witchdoctor and had a root cursed to place in my house. This brother said that he had prayed against this root, but could not get word to me until now. I told him how God had spoken to me at my chair in prayer and then we rejoiced and gave God thanks for His protection from Witchcraft. Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forever and He keeps us covered with His blood and surrounded by His angels to protect and warn us.
When making trips into the villages you always had to greet and visit with the Village Chief out of respect and as a way for the village knowing that you had his blessing to be there preaching the Word. I was able to see several Village Chiefs come to the Lord this way, and then they in turn encouraged the whole village to attend the meetings and later the church that was established there. This also helped the mission to grow quickly.
There was always the presence of evil from the Witchdoctor’s practicing his magic in the villages. You could feel the heavy oppression of demonic spirits in the services until the anointing of the worship and preaching the Word broke through it. Then people would get saved and many were delivered from demons and healed. I was always drained after these trips into the villages and was happy to return to my house to recuperate. There many trips and they took their toll upon my strength and I could tell that I was wearing down, and didn’t know how much longer I could keep the pace. This is when I first began to think that I would inform headquarters that I would not be returning to the mission for another term. I felt that I had laid the solid foundation and it would now be up to someone else to build on it from there.
These feelings were in line with Paul’s ministry. Paul as an apostle of the Lord was the one who went into new areas and laid the foundation getting the church going and then turning it over to someone else to pastor. He started many churches this way and trained many young men to be pastors. Then Apostles like John were used to ‘clean the nets’ as this is what John was doing when Jesus called him to be His disciple. He was cleaning the fishing nets. John later would be used to clean the hearts and souls of Christians through this ministry and writings. Peter was an Apostle who caught large number of men and women for the Lord, just as Jesus told him when he was called from ‘casting’ his nets. Peter preached to many thousands on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. In all my years of ministry I was never involved with the ministry of large congregations. I was the one who always worked with the small groups establishing them in the teachings of the Word of God, moving on to do it all over again. This is how God was leading me with Malawi.
I saw Malawians who knew nothing but Chichewa speak in English when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. I saw people receive healing and be delivered from oppressing demons. I saw protection not only from Witchcraft but from thieves and disease. I was given favor and many doors open enabling me to preach and teach the Gospel to many levels of society. Malawi was my Mandate and it happened quickly and intensely. Everything else in my life has centered around this ministry and has been anti-climatic. I will always be forever grateful for these short years in my journey from birth to death.
During all of these things happening for the mission work, there were also many things happening to the family. My son N. was three years old and had gotten into some Amway cleaning products, experimenting with the taste. The houseboy had left the bottle on the side of the bathtub with the cap off. N. decided to take a drink. When N came into the kitchen my heart stopped. He was pale and foaming at the mouth. I grabbed him and started praying as he pointed me to what he had just ingested. I grabbed the bottle and the family and headed to the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic a few miles away praying as hard as I could all the way. The doctor was most gracious when he saw and heard what was happening. He immediately started pumping N’s stomach out, but there was nothing coming out, it had already entered his system. He was turning bluer by the minute, so the Doctor put him onto a bed and strapped an oxygen mask onto his face, while he ran to make some calls to the States trying to figure out what antidote to administer N. At that point in time, there was no requirement to have the ingredients listed on the bottle, and the Doctor wasn’t having much success on the phone. I asked him if I could call headquarters and ask for a prayer chain and he readily agreed. I then ran back to the room with N and prayed like crazy for him as I watched him become more and more listless and blue. The Doctor was running back and forth trying to figure our what he could do to help which turned out not to be much. Then when I thought that N had reached the point of death, I felt the power of God’s Holy Spirit come like a wind through the concrete block wall of that clinic right next to N’s bed. I turned to look at what I was feeling and then realized that N. had sat up in bed while he took the oxygen mask off his face and said to me, “Daddy, I’m hungry.” I cried and laughed at the same time and the Doctor just looked at N. and looked at me and then at N and shook his head. He smiled and said, “I never saw anything like that in my life.” I said, “There is definitely power in group prayer. The Doctor had his staff fix N some red beans and rice. This has been my favorite dish since!