Stories From Lilongwe

Dear friends and family,  

I have now been in Malawi for 3 months, and I continue to enjoy my experiences here. With rainy season in full swing, the corn is waist high, and everything is green. I love to be outside and experience the beauty of green rolling hills set against a background of jagged rocky mountains. I am also enjoying getting to know people better. As relationships have grown, stories are abounding. I want to introduce you to Richard and his story. 
Richard lives next door, and works full time for the builder who is finishing the house next to where I live. He also works in my compound where he cares for the garden and washes my clothes. Richard has a wife and a son who live in a village outside the city, but he lives and works here so that he can save enough money to move them to the city with him. Richard and I have built a relationship despite his broken English and my non-existent Chichewa. This past week we got into a discussion about sexual morals and the right way to live life. I mentioned that I was a Christian and tried to live by what the Bible teaches. Richard was immediately very interested in the Bible, and told me that he wanted me to teach him what the Bible says because he wants to change. It was getting late at night, so we decided to meet a few days later. After he left, I felt excited and scared. This was my first experience with someone who seems to know very little about God, and is still eager to know Him. It feels like a big responsibility to introduce someone to Jesus! I did my best to prepare for the coming meeting, but mostly I just prayed.
Last Saturday I ate lunch with Richard at my house, and we read through the first chapter of Mark. At first I tried to have him read and then explain what he understood. The language barrier was too difficult, and I ended up downloading an audio recording of the New Testament for him. We had a great time from there on out. Richard listened to what was being said, and then told me what he heard. Together we looked at a map of Israel, thought through what it could mean to be God’s son, struggled to understand what a fisher of men is, and were amazed by His power to cast out demons.
Richard asked me for a copy of the Bible in Chichewa and if he could come to church with me. I put the mp3 of the book of Mark on his phone, and I hope to bring him with me to church on Sunday! I hope to have a hard copy of the Bible to give him when we meet next.
Talking with Richard was definitely the highlight of the week, and I am excited for the chance to spend more time with him, but it also left me feeling inadequate. I wasn’t able to present the whole gospel, or explain how or why Jesus died for us, and I don’t know have the perfect plan laid out to tell it all to him in the future. In spite of these feelings I have come to realize that I am not expected to have the perfect “3-step guide to salvation.” I am not who I am because of one specific decision. Instead, I am in the midst of a continual process of growth and sanctification. I am often impatient, wanting to change faster or more efficiently. But God isn’t interested in being efficient; he wants our hearts, and an ongoing relationship with us. That is the same way He can work in Richard’s life, through a slowly deepening relationship that brings about change.
Please pray for both Richard and me as we learn more about who Jesus is in the coming weeks. Pray that God’s truth would be evident, and that our hearts would be open to receiving it and changing because of it.