Rupert, Alex and I walked off the aeroplane at Blantyre airport onto the tarmac into the hot sun.  The queue at the customs desk was not moving at all and we were eventually re-directed to another desk where a burly officer scanned all our finger prints and stamped our passports.  With our luggage retrieved we stepped out of the building to be greeted by a friendly but insistent porter: ”Mulibanje!”  (How do you do?)  Some quick negotiations as to the taxi fare for a trip into the city and we were on our way.  All along the road there are shops and trading posts where people are doing their best to make a living.  It seems that the national slogan in Malawi is “We are trying”!

The first challenge was to find an ATM that would accept our credit cards!  The third attempt was successful – a local Standard Bank.  My eyes just bulged as it spat out 40 x 1000 Malawi Kwatcha (K) notes.  One South African Rand is about 50 Kwatcha so the K40,000 is only R800.

We picked up our rental car and were very glad to arrive at the Zambesi Mission House down a dusty rutted gravel road to be welcomed by the friendly staff.  After a masterful supper prepared by Alex and a shower we gratefully climbed into bed and slept like logs under our mosquito nets.  Yes – there was quite some “sawing of logs” through the night!

The next day we had some time to get ourselves organised with “pay as you go” SIM cards and were very glad to be in communication with family back home and with the brethren travelling to the Bible School.  We went to check out the meeting hall in the Chirimba area and then stocked up on provisions for the five days which Alex prepared cheerfully for breakfast and supper every day.

What a joy to get to the meeting hall the next day for the first session of the “Bible School”. We met with brothers Fredson and MacNel and some 50 brethren waiting eagerly to begin.  I was especially blessed when the welcome statement emphasised that “we be brethren – working together as a team”.  Unlike the Scottish and English missionaries that came to Malawi in the 1800’s and 1900’s where there were reverends, supervisors, bishops and cardinals, we have a different vision altogether!  We recognise that Jesus gave gifts unto men (Eph 4:11) and we are “labourers together with God”.  It is God’s husbandry and God’s building (1 Cor 3:9).

In the early sessions Rupert established that the national slogan of “we are trying” does not apply to getting to heaven – we have the assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  In all things Jesus has the pre-eminence – He is “number One”!  The interpreter just broke out in a spontaneous song and was joined by al the brothers:  “He is not number two, not number three, not number four – Jesus is number One”!  Moving on to repentance from dead works and faith toward God there were many questions and answers.  The Lord was gracious and the brethren hungry for the Word!

As we spoke about the doctrine of baptisms we felt led of the Holy Ghost to linger on the baptism in the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost does the work of convincing the WORLD of sin, righteousness and judgement.  As far as the child of God is concerned – it is altogether different!   The Holy Ghost is the other Comforter, the gift of the Father, given to Jesus after His ascension and poured out on the 120 disciples on the day of Pentecost.  The house was filled with the sound of a mighty rushing wind and cloven tongues of fire sat on EACH of them and they were ALL filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  The ministry continued with 1 Cor 12, 13 and 14 as we worked together to fulfil Paul’s desire that we be not ignorant of spiritual gifts.  The question of “Who is speaking in tongues” was thoroughly discussed and understood that the Holy Ghost does not “posses” us and speak through us but that it is “my spirit” that prays, speaks and sings!  (1 Cor 14: 14-17)   At the end of the day about eight or so brethren were filled with the Holy Ghost and we all rejoiced together!

The sessions on the last day were used to encourage the brethren to now “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” with the sure understanding that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon us” and HE has anointed us to preach, bring deliverance and set captives free!

It was almost as if the enemy launched an immediate attack as we collected our vehicle for the trip up north only to find it had a faulty wheel bearing.  The next morning they were still looking for the spare part when Rupert started looking for another vehicle from another company.  The Lord graciously led us to an efficient local car rental firm where we got an old Toyota Land Cruiser to rent at an excellent rate.  Because we were delayed, we had to stop after some 365 Km but it turned out to be a very blessed rest at a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Malawi!  Going on mission does have some physical benefits as well!  We remembered the words of Jesus “Come ye apart and rest a while”.

Early the next morning we watched the sun rise over Lake Malawi and after grabbing a delicious breakfast we hit the road again for the 340 Km journey to Kazuni.  The roads are a little corroded on the edges so there are occasions when on-coming traffic is a bit of a challenge!  We came across about 10 incidents of broken down and even overturned trucks on the whole journey.   The last stretch was on some challenging gravel roads where we maybe averaged about 40 or 50 Km/h.  When we arrived at Lake Kazuni the hippos were lying so still, sleeping in the sun – I thought they were just rocks!  As it began to cool in the afternoon, one by one, the rocks got up, bellowed and went for a swim in the lake!

The next morning we were once again greatly blessed as we met with the brethren in the Kazuni area where about 15 – 20 believers gathered with hungry hearts to receive the engrafted word with gladness.   Rupert ensured that repentance from dead works was thoroughly covered as the brethren understood “No more trying”!  The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus brings everyone who will believe and receive the message of the Gospel into the wonderful experience of being the sons of God.  The next day the baptism into Christ was physically demonstrated when Alex asked two young brethren to represent the “power of sin” holding down another brother.  We then had someone represent the Holy Ghost literally picking him up and taking him “out of the power of sin” and baptising (or “transferring”) him into Jesus. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus now works to make him free from the law of sin and death!  We can now SIT in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, WALK worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called and STAND, having put on the whole armour of God!

We left Kazuni very much encouraged and with the promise of a visit by brothers Fredson and MacNel in October/September and a full Bible School session next year July – Lord willing!  As we got into the Land Cruiser for the 400 odd Km journey to Lilongwe we were humbled and deeply appreciative of the grace of God, the indwelling life of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost that had enabled us to share “the Word of Life” and be a part of bringing men and women out of “the darkness that is past into the true light that now shines”.  (1 John 2:8)

Tony Robson.

Practical Note:
One item that will be of great help to the brethren in Malawi is a smart phone.  It allows communication using WhatsApp and is a huge saving on the cost of calls and SMSs – data is fairly cheap in Malawi.  If you have an old “smart” cell phone lying in a drawer – would you please consider donating it?  Please contact Rupert Freese on +27 83 799 5522.