Sunday morning saw us off early to drive to church two and a half hours away. It is a church plant from the Good News Revival Centre and is in a predominantly Muslim area of the country. It is also down on the plain near to the Shire River, and so is much more humid, sticky and hot than in Blantyre where we have been most of the time.
We arrived and some choirs were practising in church, so, as protocol dictates, we were taken to the pastors home, a very basic mud hut, cooking happening over a fire in a separate hut, chickens clucking around in the enclosure. We sat outside on the only seats they had whilst some other pastors came to greet us – there are 15 Good News Centre churches in the Muslim area, and as they had heard we were visiting they had come to be there together, some walking 3 or 4 hours to get there through the bush!
The church itself was again very simple – mud bricks with wooden beams holding up a tin roof which was held down by stones. An earthen floor on which most people sat, a few chairs being produced from people’s homes for us and the pastors to sit on. The church was full – about 150 men women and children, and the worship was fantastic, even though we didn’t understand what they were singing, but the band of drums, a percussion instrument made of a bit of string and metal bottle lids, made a great noise, and with lots of clapping to the rhythm and swaying/dancing, we got caught up in their worship of God.
Nedson had told us that the pastor was from a well known Muslim family in the village, who had one day accompanied the Christians on a prayer walk to the top of a mountain in order to disrupt the prayers, but he had been totally overcome by God and lay slain in the Spirit for some hours, before coming round a totally changed/converted man. He was now pastoring the church we were in!
Miriam was again asked to introduce us, before I spoke from Luke 14 about the cost of discipleship – what on earth have I got to teach such people about cost, when many of them have been ostracised from their families for converting from Islam!
They, as have many here, could not believe we are Anglicans – it seems that Anglicans are very traditional here, and us not wearing robes, and offering to pray with people, to dance and clap to the worship….is very un-Anglican!
We went on from there to Lake Malawi where Miriam and I have had a couple of nights at a hotel relaxing and seeing some amazing scenery, fish eagles, pied kingfishers, a monitor lizard, a vervet monkey that got into the restaurant this morning to snatch some bananas….
Back at Nedson’s now for the last few days before we fly to New Zealand, which will be a bit of a culture shock, but we will probably not get a chance to blog until we are there now.