Humble and Proud of It

On August 13th I will present a message, “Humble and Proud of It,” to the congregation at the evening service at Alma Temple. The service begins at 6:00 pm. Beginning at 6:30 pm the message will be on live radio broadcast on KPOF, AM910 and audio streaming via the internet. You are cordially invited to join us. Alma Temple is located at 1340 Sherman Street, half a block from the state capitol building, Denver, Colorado.


At the conference. Much dancing and celebration.

Pastor Chilemba wastes nothing. As long as he had three teachers from America, he was going to make full use of our time. We were scheduled to teach two five day weeks, but that soon changed. Pastor Chilemba scheduled a church-wide
conference for the weekend. Attendees would be arriving Friday night and I was chosen to kick off the conference with a message to encourage them. After traveling all day, I knew many of them would be very tired. Since I’m not particularly fond of watching people sleep during my messages, I decided to make it short. “How to be Saved and Know It” took twenty minutes to present. After I spoke, Charleeda made an altar call. Then we were swept away to our hotel – before we got to see how many came forward. Pastor told us the next day that several children came forward! Praise God, they would get baptized!

The next morning Mary Beth started off the morning with an inspiring message.

Mary Beth addressed conference with Pastor Julius translating.

After a short lunch, we regathered to crown the women with glory and celebrate God’s blessings!

The women ‘adorned by God.’

The next order of the day was baptism!

Mary Beth observes baptisms.

Dancing and celebration followed baptisms. We were overjoyed that there were 150 baptisms that day! Sunday morning Charleeda gave a powerful message. Soon the conference would end.

Charleeda addresses conference with Pastor Webster translating.

After Charleeda spoke, several dance groups from different parts of Malawi and Mozambique took the stage. These dancers know how to celebrate the love of God! The beautiful music, clothing, and dancing revived us. What an inspiring way to end the conference!

One of the many dance groups celebrating God’s glory!

Another dance team!

The conference ended and everyone gathered for a group picture! One of my treasures.

Last day of the conference. Good-bye dear friends, until we meet again.

Loading up to go home.

Bibles for Malawi

Joseph using his new Bible.

We take so much for granted in the United States. How many Bibles do you have? For the first time, I decided to count the Bibles in my office. I stopped at forty-eight. I had one bookcase left to go and pretty much decided only other teaching books were there, so I didn’t count it. Mind you, these are just the ones in my office! I’m sure David’s office houses at least that many. If I mentally add ones throughout the house (ones by my bed, in the living room, in the bookcase in the hall) I’m sure we have at least one hundred Bibles in this house. Nsanje was a real wake up call.

Charleeda teaching, see Bibles stacked in the background.

We were about to distribute the Bibles when Charleeda noticed one of the men she had taught the year before. She demanded, “Where is your Bible. I gave you a Bible last year. Why didn’t you bring it?” The young man respectfully answered. “My church has only one Bible and I left it for the congregation to use while I attended Bible School.”

Last year Charleeda and Mary Beth had given each pastor a Bible and they were expected to use it in class this year. Remember, these pastors have built up their churches with out the benefit of Bibles. God blesses them.

Bibles not yet distributed. David’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” project goes into effect.

Each of us created a project to benefit the pastors and people of Malawi. David made up the fourth member of our team, as our U.S. anchor. He called his project “Iron Sharpens Iron.” Each pastor would received two Bibles. One would be for himself (pastors from the year before already had one, so they would receive another) and the second would be for a study partner or an accountability partner. This project, funded by our supporters, elated the pastors. Thank everyone so very much for their donations.

Pastors pose with new Bibles.

Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


Those jaws can exert a whopping 3,700 pounds per square inch. Yours can only do 150 pounds per square inch!

One of the curiosities of Malawi held my attention. Crocodiles! They were a very real danger in the past and continue to attack people. One man at the river said that only yesterday he saw twenty-one crocodiles.

Crossing the Shire River to Mozambique.

The Shire River, heavily populated with crocodiles, separates Mozambique from Malawi.

Crossing the river from Malawi to Mozambique seems natural to these folks, but I’m not sure I would have the courage. That canoe looks just a bit fragile. In fact, I believe I saw a crocodile at the Museum of Natural History about the same size as that canoe! Nope. I’m not getting in.

Canoes take customers back and forth across the river.

Let me share this article from The World by Ann M Simmons called, Rivers of Fear Run Through Malawi as Crocodiles Stage a Big Comeback. The article was written in 2002, but I think the problems remain.
NSANJE DISTRICT, Malawi — Dipping his arms into the murky river, Collins Skiper expected to grasp a healthy bunch of water lilies. Instead, he found both hands in the clutches of a crocodile’s ravenous jaws.

The predator dragged Skiper out of his shallow dug-out canoe and into the water. Memories of what followed that day in early January are sketchy. But Skiper does recall the terror, the pain and the violent struggle as six fellow fishermen clobbered the crocodile with their paddles.

Miraculously, they managed to free Skiper from the reptile’s grip and drag him to safety–his hands ripped and bloody.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Skiper, 21, whose wounds took almost a month to heal. “I shiver now each time I see a crocodile.”

The young fisherman was lucky. Few victims of the numerous crocodile attacks in this southern region of Malawi survive to tell their tale–much less with all their limbs intact.

Crocodiles “are a big problem,” said Dennis Chokolo, chief of the village where Skiper lives along the Shire River, an outlet of Lake Malawi. “Nobody can go and even take a bath in the river; not even the animals can go near. When they go to the river to drink, they are killed.”

Nile crocodiles are terrorizing communities along the Shire. Two people in Skiper’s village have been killed since January, and nearby settlements have experienced at least a dozen attacks since the beginning of the year. Depletion of the crocodiles’ natural prey, primarily caused by overfishing, has led to the surge in attacks.

Humans who fish, wash in and draw water from the crocodile- infested river, along with livestock grazing along its shoreline, are easy prey, wildlife specialists said. Some local fishermen have been literally plucked out of their makeshift canoes, many of which have less than six inches of clearance from the water.

Paul Taylor, chairman of the Blantyre branch of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi, said attacks are “more a problem of the human population than the crocodile population. As the [human] population gets bigger, more and more people are moving into areas where the crocodiles exist. So the chances of a crocodile encounter are larger.”

Figures on crocodile attacks here are unavailable. But some hunters believe that at least one Malawian is killed or maimed by a crocodile every day and that as many as two victims fall prey daily during the warm season from October to April.

“Most of the cases are not reported; people just go missing,” said Wisdom Mwanza, director of planning and development for the District Assembly in Chikwawa, one of the areas hit hardest by crocodile attacks.
Report on the mission to Malawi continues next time . . .


Exciting events filled the Saturday schedule. We started the morning with a message from Charleeda for the congregation. After lunch we shared a study of “Adorned by God” with the women. Immediately following our time with the women, we heard joyous singing outside. The baptisms had begun!

We gather to join singing and celebrate baptisms.

So many believers lined up to be baptized that the pastors decided that it must be done three at a time in order to finish before dark!

Three pastors in the baptismal at once.

Pastors from all over Malawi and Mozambique brought new believers to be baptized at the conference. As I mentioned in a previous blog, they can no longer baptize in the river because of the crocodiles. As more and more were baptized, the singing increased.

Pastor Chilemba greets the next in line!

We were elated to see so many taking this step of obedience, getting baptized is an experience they will never forget. Thanks to all our faithful supporters, the baptismal became a reality. Thanks be to God the faithful came to show their commitment to Him.

Young boys eager for their baptism!

Praise be to God! Over one hundred fifty took this important step in their faith. The rest of the day was filled with music, singing and praising the Lord!

Adorned by God

Saturday afternoon finally arrived. We had been looking forward to spending time with the women of the church since our arrival. We set up the picture of a queen and described how God adorns us as queens. Our translator was Fiona.

Charleeda makes notes on our drawing of a queen while I explain the colors on the gown.

Items used to adorn the women.

Then the Lord God said: I entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine, declares the Lord God. . . . I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. . . . so you were exceedingly beautiful . . . . Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:8-14)

The women on one side of the room. Thanks to Burger King for giving us all those crowns!

Mama Chilemba, on the other side of the room, smiles for the camera.

The women treasured their gifts. Some of the crowns were seen all the next week! The scarves were donated by our faithful supporters. They were treasured just as much as the crowns, necklaces, and the rings. We were supposed to have 150 women, but after I gave away the 170th scarf with women still in line, I knew we had at least 200 women. Praise God, what a blessing!


The day before we left, Pastor emailed a request for $400 in order to build a baptismal. It seemed like a reasonable request and we felt like our supporters would want to help in a project like this. Pastor Chilemba told us that they can no longer baptize in the river because of the crocodiles! We immediately wired the money. On the first day of class, the baptismal looked like this:

The first day of school.

We found out later that so many parents have been killed by crocodiles that there is a whole group of children referred to as ‘croc orphans.’

The church conference was starting on Friday night, and the baptisms were planned for Saturday. We wondered how on earth they would get it done by then. Not only that, with such high temperatures and high humidity, would the concrete get dry?

Starting to lay the brick foundation.

By the middle of the week the baptism looked like this. Would it be ready in time?

Midweek the baptism looks good, but time is passing quickly.

Thursday morning all the brick was in place. Pastor Chilemba found that the contractor had failed to install a drain! He hired a new contractor, they fixed the problem, and progress continued. Would be done by Saturday?

It’s Thursday and it looks like they are ready to apply the finishing concrete.

A quick prayer shot up to the Lord every time I walked by. Please, Lord, let it be ready! Many pastors were bringing new believers to be baptized here because they can no longer use the river.

Friday afternoon! Baptisms take place on Saturday afternoon.

God answers prayer! It’s Friday evening and the baptismal is looking good! It’s beautiful and I can’t wait to be part of Saturday afternoon’s baptismal service. But before that, we have a date with 150 women to tell them how God has adorned them! I will share pictures and comments from the time with the women! After the women, we had the baptismal service. The next two posts will have pictures and comments from that time.

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