Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The God of Malawi ... and Everywhere and Everything else.

Malawi isn't a large country. Someone on this trip told me it's about the size of Pennsylvania. Malawi will never be the center of the political world. No famous actors, singers, or artists hail from this tiny, landlocked, third-world country. But in God's eyes, Malawi is gorgeous, Malawi is great scenery -- including a masive freshwater lake that runs down the entire eastern border of the country.  It's home to thousands of unique animals, all designed by His sovereign hand, and all made to bring Him glory.

Our team had the privilage of exeriencing some of the most beautiful aspects of this great country the last two days. Our God looked great, and worthy of so much praise as we visited Lake Malawi and a large game park at the southern end of the country. Prais God our travels were safe and we were able to get close (but not to close) to Hippos, Elephants, Zebras, Warthhogs, Crocodiles, and many, many other breathtaking animals that call Malawi home.

No doubt many of you will see amazing pictures in the days ahead as the students share their experiences. With each picture you see, think of the wonder and majesty of a God so great, so powerful, He personally ovesees the teeming animal life in this small, seemingly insignificant country of Malawi.

It's hard to believe, but tomorrow is our final day here in Malawi. At 3:00 P.M. local time we board a plane for Ehtiopia, then we will continue on to Washington D.C. This will be my last blog post. I can't thank all of you enough for reading this blog and praying for this trip.

Our time in Afirca has been unforgettable. God's answered so many prayers and revealed Himself mighty to save and sanctify teenagers from American and men and women from the heart of Africa.

Team unity has stayed intact throughout the trip, our health is good, our spirits are high, and our hearts are full of praise. We are eager to see many of you when we return Friday evening. Until then, continue to pray for our safe travels, and pray also for the people of Malawi. We will forever feel a special kinship with this small country.

Signing off,
In Christ,
Corey Williams.   

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A final visit to the village

Our team of 22 teenagers and four staff came to Malawi to serve International Bible Fellowship and a new church plant in a village across the street from African Bible College. Today, we visited both places for the last time. In the morning at church, our team had the privilage of singing "There is a Fountain" during the offertory. Like last week, Ryan Nahat, Jared Price, Taylor Dempsey, and Tyler Linehan assisted the worship for the entire service by playing drums, guitar, and piano. We're grateful God gave us the opportunity to serve this local church, then be spiritually fed by the preaching of Pastor Brian Biedebach.

After lunch, we headed to the village for the last time to spend a couple hours with the children. We gave a lot of things away (the soccer balls were easily the biggest hit), and we reviewd many of the Bible lessons we'd taught throughout the week. Then it was time to say goodbye. On the way out of the village, our translator Clifford told us he was sure we had made a lasting difference on the children. It was very encouraging to hear him talk about the difference a team like ours can make.

Tonight, our team has spent the evening packed, cleaning, and preparing for our trip tomorrow to Lake Malawi. Pray for safe travels along the way. It should be an unforgettable adventure that will hopefully involve some hippo, rhino, and elephant sightings. Our team can't wait to see God's creation on full display in a way we've never seen before.

There's a strong possibility I will have no Internet access the next couple days. I hope to blog, but may not have the opportunity. If I do, we'll talk on the safari. If not, I'll blog again when we return to the Floreen's hosue Wednesday afternoon. 

Until next time (whenever that is),
Corey W 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Our work here is finished ... almost

It's hard to believe, but today, Team Malawi finished its last full day of work. Saturday was much different than the rest of the week. Instead of our team splitting into four different work groups, five people worked at the veranda and the rest of the team took on a new project: painting a new lecture hall on the campus of African Bible College. 

We managed to finish the job by the end of the day, putting a fresh coat of paint on the newest building on campus! It's been fun interacting with several students from ABC this week. Three have spent considerable time with our team: Samuel, Clifford, and Cool (no, that's not a typo. His real name is much longer, so he told us to simply call him Cool, which is the first four lettes of his name.  Of course, we all replied, "that's cool .... Cool."). These college aged students served as translators for our team during our ministry in the village. They translated our Bible lessons and testimonies, and helped us organize the kids for games. We're so thankful for their help.

After finishing the work today, our team celebrated at the Biedebachs with ice cream cones and other special, and uniquely Malawian, treats. Tomorrow our team will again attend Internation Bible Fellowship, where several team members will again help lead worship. We're grateful for this service opportunity.

I'd also like to add a special thanks to Brian and Anita Biedebach for the incredible Q and A we had with them last night. They told us how God brought them together, how He led them to Malawi, and what they hope to accomplish for the Savior while they are here. It was both instructive and fascinating to hear about these humble, gifted servants. No doubt our team will pray for their family years from now. Already, our hearts are closely knited to this family, and we are so thankful for their hospitality during out stay in Malawi.

Tomorrow should be a fun day, with church and one last trip to the village to see the children. Thank you to all of you who are praying for our team's health, unity, safety, and ministry. Your prayers are being answered on the other side of the world.

In Christ,
Corey W

Friday, July 8, 2011

Behind bars in Malawi

Yesterday, Team Malawi decided that we were having such a wonderful, encouraging time here in Malawi it should be illegal, so we went to jail! Literally.

JACKED! By Austin, Robert, Sara, Ashlynn, Katelynn, and Carleigh........ okay fine, Sheller too.

As it turns out, we did go to the prison... but not because we were in trouble. We were given the opportunity to encourage the men and women of Maula Prison's Bible fellowship. The congregation consists of 25 women and 360 men. The girls went to the womens' side of the compound and the boys spent their time with the men. After being welcomed with singing and dancing, we had a great time. It was encouraging to see the joy of the prisoners whose hearts had been transformed by God. The team's perspective was greatly changed after being reminded that we all serve and worship the same God, regardless of where we are from or what we have done. We shared testimonies, sang, and rejoiced with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We finished the day off with a few hours at the worksites. After coming home, we spent time together singing praises to God led by Ryan & Hannah, and praying for the remainder of our trip.

Overall, our day stimulated great growth and encouragement in the hearts of each of the members of our team. We are so grateful for the opportunities we have had to serve the God of ALL nations. Praying for the Floreens and their journey back to the states. We are so thankful for their hospitality and are attempting to keep their home in perfect working order.

We love our oatmeal, cornflakes, skim milk, and Malarone. God is at work in the hearts of TEAM MALAWI.

See you in a week,
Austin, Robert, Sara, Ashlynn, Carleigh, Katelynn, and Sheller.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

the halfway mark

Hard to believe we left for Malawi one week ago! I know I've mentioned this before, but one of the great blessings of this trip has been staying with Matt and Rachel Floreen. This godly couple has been so generous to us, opening their home, feeding us wonderful food, and spending time with us each day.

Last night, the Floreens were kind enough to do a Q and A with our team. We spent an hour and a half asking them about their minisry here in Malawi, why they decided the Lord wanted them to be missionaries, and how they met each other. All of us benefited from the insight they had on life as servants of Christ in Africa.

Before the Q and A, our team worked a full day. In the village, we've laid the foundation for the building and are now laying brick for the walls. It's exciting to see the building go up. The village kids heard the Christmas story yesterday, and will continue to hear truth from Jesus' life as this week comes to a close. 

At the church office for International Bible Fellowship (the Floreen and Biedebach's church), we are making good progress on a veranda that will be used to hold baptisms. If the Veranda is finished by Sunday, our team might get to witness a Malawian couple be baptized!

Again, thank you so much for your prayers. The spirits are high on the team as we head toward the second half of our trip. God has blessed us so far and we are eager to see what He will do this next week!

In Christ,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day, and the day after it, in Malawi

We the people of the United States .... who are here in Malawi serving Jesus ... have come together to form a more perfect union of servants dedicated to the idea that the name of Jesus will be magnified and proclaimed on this earth.

The 4th of July brought a lot of firsts for Team Malawi. It was our first full day of work. From 7:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. the students were hard at work on the African Bible College campus and in the local village, building a church building and ministering to hundreds of local village kids through songs and Bible teaching. We were especailly excited about the opportunity to tell the kids about Adam and Eve and the nature of sin, as well as the story of Moses and the 10 commandments. Later this week we'll have lessons on Jesus' life and the nature of salvation. Pray for that wonderful evangelistic opportunity.

After the day at work was finished, it was the first time any of us have celebrated Independence Day outside America. The Biedebachs and a few other missionary families hosted a 4th of July celebration on the campus of African Bible College. Our team enjoyed a great barbeque, and some high quality fireworks which may be impossible to find back in the States. At the party there was another first. Jenny Chung twirled a sparkler for the first time in her life. Ironic that this staple of every American's life was first experienced by Jenny IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. :)

The 4th of July was also the first time the power went out at the Floreen's house. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was enough to disrupt the Internet. Thus, my first day not blogging!

Yesterday after a hard day of work our team gathered together to reflect on what God is doing on this trip. The team had a great, almost two-hour discussion tonight. One of the common themes that came out of this discussion was the privilege of ministry. God doesn't need Team Malawi to accomplish His work here. We get to worship God with our service. That theme has dominated many conversations this week and we are excited to see how the Lord works in our hearts as the trip continues.

Right now, our team is getting ready for Wednesday's day of work. Today we will be continuing our different work projects, then tomorrow Brian Biedebach has an exciting new ministry opportunity for our team. Stay tuned for more details!

Please pray for the continued health of our team (so far so good!). Also pray for our four ministry projects, particularly the opportunitty we have to share the gospel with people in the village. It's thrilling to think that the Lord could use our team to draw someone to Himself.

Until next time,
In Christ,

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Lord's Day in Malawi

It's encouraging to reach "The Warm Heart of Africa" (that's Malawi's nickname) and attend a church where God's Word is faithfully preached and His people worship and serve together in a vibrant local church. That is certainly the case at International Bible Fellowship where Brian Biedebach pastors. And by God's grace, our team was able to do more than simply attend IBC this morning. We had the privilege of singing Amazing Grace during the offering.

It was particularly exciting for Ryan Nahat, Taylor Dempsey, and Tyler Linahan, who arrived at the church two hours early, practiced with the regular musicians, and were able to play the guitar, drums, and piano for every song during the worship service. What a privilege!

After church and lunch, Pastor Brian took our team on a walking tour of Lilongwe, showing us the markets where the majority of people in the city buy and sell clothes, crafts, and many many other things. It was quite the cultural experience: very eye-opening for everyone on our team.

Tomorrow the work begins in earnest. We should be at our worksites by 7:00 and plan on working until 4:00. Tomorrow night, we will look forward to a 4th of July party on the campus of ABC with the Biedebachs.

Continue to pray for the team. The hard work is about to begin, so now is when the need for service is greatest, and our heart for service will be most tested.

To close out today's blog, I've posted a picture we took of everyone on the team singing this morning at IBC!

In Christ,