Tag Archive: malawi


‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.’ [vs. 7]

this brings to mind the more well known psalm 46.10 line of ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’

i use this verse a lot when writing welcome letters to people coming to visit the Simple Way as i think that sometimes the best thing for a lot of people is to be still [from the busyness and business of their daily lives and stresses and ministries and relationships] and to stop. and then to know [like really be aware of and believe and trust and acknowledge] that He is God.

i read once that there are two rules to life:

[1] there is only one God
[2] it is not you!

that can be a refreshing, freeing thought. as much as i like to think i hold the universe in the balance and that if i don’t do this thing or make that thing happen then who else possibly could or will?

there is a God. He is bigGER.

and because doing this is more important than writing about it, i am going to grab my cup of brewed coffee right now and actually interrupt the writing of this blog to go and do likewise [but don’t worry, if you keep reading it will seem like i never left]

ah.

it is a good thing to be able to distinguish between ‘be still and ask’ or ‘be still and try and think of a solution to the problem i am facing’ to simple ‘be still and know’ – i don’t take enough time to do that, but each time i do, it is so, so powerful

STOP RIGHT NOW. give yourself a minute. just focus on those words, close your eyes and be still and KNOW that He. Is. God.

it was on a top bunk bed in the YWAM base in a town called Chigamula outside Blantyre in Malawi in 2000 when i was on my outreach for the DTS course i had done that i went to bed wrestling with my faith and whether i really believed the stuff i had for my whole life – it was a moment of truth moment – followed by being awakened by people coming into the room at a crazy hour in the morning and news of two groups of people ascending the hill towards the base and the idea that i was about to be savagely hacked to pieces and this was it – what do you believe? – that my conclusion came really as a summing up of those words – i know that i know [that’s really all i had left]

and i haven’t looked back. clearly the near-death experience [in my head, at least] ended well, but what came out of it was knowing what i absolutely believe and just really KNOW.

it is important to keep returning to that place of being still and just soaking in the knowing of His Godness.

because when that happens well, then the next part happens more naturally: ‘do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.’ it comes out of a place of, ‘i don’t need to fret – God has this’

and ‘God having this’ does not mean i won’t get hurt or it won’t be uncomfortable or even that i, or the people i love, will be kept from harm… it is partially an awareness of a bigger picture that involves both life here and life beyond, a God centered kingdom that is more about Him than me, but which i have been graciously invited to be a part of.

and then finally, one of the last verses of this psalm which is maybe just something to reflect on:
‘Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.’ [vs. 37]

being a ‘man of peace’ means more than just not engaging in violence, but taking it to the whole new level of loving your enemies which Jesus both spoke about and lived out, and that has been possibly one of the biggest lessons or areas of growth that has happened in me since moving to this neighborhood altho it is definitely something we still wrestle with a lot in terms of what it looks like and how it plays out.

to head back to part i

and let Him loose in my life…

was end of grade 10 or 11 [or standard 8/9 as we used to call it in the days when we had to trudge 50 miles barefoot in the snow just to get a glass bottle of milk!] when that happened, but let me back track.

i was five years old when i asked Jesus into my heart – looking back now i may have not understood the metaphor – at least i’m hoping not, cos i’m not sure at 38 that i get it now – but i am convinced that i knew enough about what i was doing for it to matter – my parents had taught me well about the love of God and how that was demonstrated through Jesus and more importantly lived that out in loving ‘the least of these’ who constantly seemed to be in and around or near our lives… and so it doesn’t really matter that the terminology may have been a bit off, what happened was important – i believed in God and i did something [asked Jesus into my heart] to demonstrate that belief.

when i was nearing the end of school though i had some youth leaders pray for me to be filled with the Spirit – again, terminology a lot of people may not be happy with or fully get, and again i don’t think it matters… what changed pretty dramatically in me at that time was that i moved from believing in Jesus to following Jesus – instead of just my heart, i invited Jesus to be a part of every part of my life… and my life changed.

i have never looked back. it has gotten bumpier for sure and there were many moments of struggle and wrestling with doubt and confusion and there was a near death moment which coincided with a crisis of faith ‘well do i really believe this stuff or not?’ moment [Malawi, 2000 – nothing like a near death moment to help you figure out the answer to the do you believe this or not? question, by the way] and there have been times of experiencing the Presence of God and seeing Him work in powerful ways and other less fun times of feeling so far away from God and wondering if He really cares cos it doesn’t feel like it so much right now… and yet through it all i have continued because i know that i know [deep, deep inside of me the Truth lives and is real and burning and nothing will put it out]

following is way different to believing
while Jesus was locked in my heart, i was safe to live life as i wanted to, pretty much
but He is not content with that – He wants everything and i needed to give it to Him
and that is a decision i have not regretted no matter how hard it has been at times

i just think it might be helpful for anyone still using the ‘invite Jesus into your heart’ language to consider moving to a more Biblical ‘invitation to follow Jesus’ especially where children are concerned. i think it might be a lot easier to understand. and a lot harder to be unaware that you’re not living it.

my good friend and distant tag team buddy sean du toit sent me a link to this article titled ‘As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.’

Very cool article and worth reading the whole thing but here is an excerpt:

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

You can read the rest of the article here – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article5400568.ece

so ja, last nite we had a theatresports show at kalk bay which was all cool and delightful and a bunch of fun (except maybe the two quite morbid but particularly brilliant dramatic one minute challenge games we played – whole nother level) and then i started driving back home to the beautiful val as i do…

when i came to a roadworks part of the road but with no one manning (or womenning) it – now i had come thru it on the way to the show but not noticed anything particularly different from normal except that now it was a lot closer to the show venue than it had been months ago (good sign) and so i paused for a moment figuring out if i must go or not and then knda started to go but saw bright lights coming around the corner and so i reversed enuff for the car to get past and then i waited a while longer and nothing and then i was thinking of going and two more cars came around so now i was getting a little concerned – was this russian roulette night time roadworks dash? and why wasn’t i given a packaged rule book and matching arm tag to show i was competing..?

as i had built up enuff courage and after considerable gap of no cars i started going forwards again and again lights from around the corner and so i reversed and the guy in front was flashing his lights at me (how rude, and yet no flashbacks – ha! – to the time when i inadvertently turned into the wrong way of a two lane one way road system and thort all the cars flashing me were trying to warn me about the first idiot who i had come across who was on my side of the road) and he stopped next to me and told me that it’s a one way and then pointed to the signs…

the signs which if you can imagine me driving down a street are on my left (with an only left sign and a no right sign) parallel to the road… so for example, if i had been out of my car on the opposite side of the road and looking across the road i would have noticed them quite easily, but driving along the road with them passing me on the left as i faced ahead of me (for some strange reason i like to call not driving into things or people) they were less useful…

now there may have been some other signage somewhere else explaining the whole thing to me but it clearly was not very clear and i could have died and i don’t like the idea of that right now (don’t get me wrong, i’m very ready to die when it happens, but at the moment and especially with a beautiful but sick wife waiting at home for me, i’m quite fine with the living thing) and so i was a bit angry with the road and/or sign people…

the second one occured when i was on the orange river recently and we were nappy running sjambok and i got pulled under for what seemed like eight seconds too many and i wans’t convinced in that moment i was going to make it…

and the third was in Malawi in 2000 on DTS outreach with YWAM when we were woken up early in the am with our night watchmen having seen two crowds of mob with machetes and the like advancing up the hill towards our base right while i was in the middle of a crisis of faith and do i really believe this stuff or not…

turns out i do.

and near death experiences are pretty cool and highly recommendable actually (once they’re done – usually during them there are all sorts of issues like hoping you don’t need a fresh pair of pants anytime soon and so on) because they encourage depth. stock-taking. life evaluation… actually i think that might be why some people offer to drive with me from time to time – that and increased prayer life.. i’m just kidding.

or am i. you had a near death lately? any good consequences thereof?

do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

i really struggle to ‘get’ how people have such issues with Jesus-following when the basics of what it is all about is gems like that – love God, love people, look after orphans and widows, forgive those who wrong you, look after the land you’ve been given, share this love message…

i do sadly understand how people can have issues with christians and a lot of the things they have done in the name of religion or Jesus or the church, but the message itself – reminds me of the statement kleinfrans made – the God i believe in is not the God you don’t believe in – if more people just read the bible and understood the basics of Jesus-following instead of reading christians it might be a completely different story

but i love that verse – it comes from romans 12.21 and was one of the verses that was really meaningful to me when i was doing my dts (discipleship training school) in holland and then outreach in malawi in 2000 – we reduced it to a 1221 code between three of us in the team so that if someone was being dumb or christian (as opposed to Christ-following, oh that there wasn’t a difference!) one of us would mention it or subtly write it into the ground with a stick and the other person would see it and be reminded – fight evil by gooding it to death

i love the concept, but it is one of my biggest struggles to live out consistently – my inherent sense of ‘justice’ (and it’s a warped sinful idea of justice that is fed heavily by pride) makes me want to return evil for evil – tit for tat, eye for eye, tooth for tooth

but as gandhi said ‘an eye for an eye only leaves the whole world blind’ and it’s true – revenge feeds revenge – there is no natural end to it – and so when someone pushes into the line of traffic i’ve been sitting in for twenty minutes, or a unicorn player hacks one of my friends in a hockey match, or or or… my response needs to be good

then, in the same passage, just for me i think, paul sets it out like this, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ (12.20)

i have often offered to skip the first two steps and go directly to pouring the burning coals on the person’s head, but God has never taken me up on it – it was Jesus’ revolutionary love that disarmed people – when most of us would be shouting curses as the crowd nailed us literally or metaphorically to the cross, Jesus responds with ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

this is powerful, powerful stuff. i firmly believe that if Christ-followers in south africa could really start living the 1221 we could transform this country cos it would catch on. i also firmly believe that if all christians in South Africa could become Christ-followers… south africa would be unrecognisable in months!

how about it? pick it up for just this week for starters and see how it goes – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!

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