The following is a letter that I wrote to all my supporters and prayer warriors who encouraged me through various means before and during my trip to Malawi, Africa. The total letter is five pages long, but I will be posting one section of the letter up per day. I hope this is a blessing to all my readers and an encouragement to those who want a glimpse of the global God that we as Christians worship. God Bless!
First, I offer my apologies for the lack of communication since my arrival back in California. I would blame my schoolwork, but to doso would only expose part of the reason. In all actuality, I haven’t had the time to sit down and reflect on God’s faithfulness during my trip to Malawi. But now that I’ve planted myself down in a seat, and after talking to many curious minds, I’m compelled to remember how God sanctified me and opened my eyes to an entirely new people group during my trip to Malawi. And as expected of a seminarian or a preacher-to-be, I give you four affirmations of God’s faithfulness and activity in Malawi. Yes, that’s right, four affirmations of God’s faithfulness and activity in Malawi. This might be lengthy, but I pray that these simple observations might bring you into a deeper worship of our Lord and greater awe of his glory:
- Our God is Globally Consistent
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. (Hebrews 13:7-9)
After the initial shock of landing in Africa (my exact words to my friend were, “DUDE, WE’RE IN AFRICA!”) and experiencing the unique smell of African soil, I was pleasantly surprised to understand what it meant that our God is globally consistent. The God we worship in Torrance, CA is the same God who is worshipped in Asia, Africa, Europe, and anywhere else you can think of; though our circumstances and venues might be different, our God is unchanging.
I was thankful to be under the guidance of Pastor Brian Beidebach while I was in Malawi. Though hailing from the same hometown as me (Seal Beach), he’s chosen a drastically different lifestyle, spending the last 12 years in Africa with his family: eight years in South Africa and the last four in Malawi. He serves as the pastor of International Bible Fellowship (IBF) in Malawi and also teaches a senior course on Homiletics at African Bible College (ABC). He and his wife, Anita, have four children, all of whom have grown up in various parts of Africa.
Pastor Brian’s words of wisdom and guidance really softened my heart to ministry in Malawi, and his love and care for the people there reminded me much of Lighthouse Community Church and the love that our pastors have for us. He really wanted us to experience ministry in Malawi, so he signed us up for anything and everything. He gave us the opportunity to critique his students in preaching labs, and he graciously allowed this rag-tag group of seminarians to preach to the nearly 200 students of African Bible College during their chapel service every morning. Along with that, he arranged for us to teach various classes within the college like Biblical Counseling, Missions, Cultural Anthropology, and Hermeneutics along with a lecture that we created based on our preaching from 1 John 5. This in addition to visiting villages, a prison, and different college fellowships created a pretty busy schedule for us, but just as God is gracious in getting us through our seminary courses, he was gracious in carrying us through day-by-day.
Though I was delighted to see the biblical foundation that the college students were receiving at African Bible College, false teaching was also clearly rampant in Malawi. The “prosperity gospel” and the “health-wealth gospel” seemed like a disease that had infected every part of society. The lies of the flesh and the lies of the enemy were being spread like wildfire, a frightening prospect that we face in America as well. One such example was a large, orange building that sat in the heart of town called “Winner’s Chapel” that had a motto boasting, “A God of Unlimited Breakthroughs.” We soon realized that outside the bible college was an entirely different world, one full of nominal Christians who claimed Christ but had no concept of the gospel or the devastation of their own sin.
Right from the beginning I became acutely aware of the need in Malawi for a strong church that could provide biblical preaching and teaching. Thankfully, Pastor Brian is committed to just that. His teaching is exemplary and true, founded on the Word of God and always about the consistent God who is the same no matter what continent you’re on. This undoubtedly brings hope to the region and shows firsthand that the God who works so powerfully in Scripture continues to do so in Malawi, and the Lord has been faithful to support those whom serve him so diligently.