Pastor Couple Conferences
2013 Conference Updates
August 10, 2013---Helping Feed God’s People
Timothy Harvest Ministries understands Jesus’ command to “feed my sheep” to mean both spiritually and physically. Nearly a third of the Bethel Training Center campus will be devoted to agriculture. This is important because food availability is a never-ending challenge in this part of Africa. THM’s agricultural enterprises will accomplish three things: experimentation and demonstration of crop and poultry production techniques that will increase food production and lower costs, feed the visitors to the training center and produce enough revenue to eventually make THM self-sufficient.
There are currently 3 areas of emphasis: 1) chickens 2) soil fertility and 3) irrigation. White Stone has been working with THM on all three fronts and excellent progress has been made. It is very gratifying to see how much has been accomplished in the past year and the enthusiasm among the Malawians for these projects.
The first of two chicken houses was completed a few months ago and contains 2 large rooms with an office area/storage/bathroom in the middle of the building. It is extremely well built and powered by a solar panel on the roof. Many of you will remember the “buy a chick” fund raiser conducted earlier this year at WS. 1,200 chicks were purchased and 1,224 were delivered. Thanks to excellent management, death loss has been extremely low and 1,213 hens will start producing eggs in about a month. When they reach full production…about a thousand eggs per day…it will be a huge step toward moving THM to self-sufficiency. The 2nd chicken house will be used for meat chickens and hopefully will be built next year.
In addition to eggs and meat, chickens also produce manure that is very rich in important nutrients for crop production…especially nitrogen which maize (corn) needs a lot of. THM has been using composting to enhance soil fertility with outstanding results and even more work will be done as chicken manure becomes available. Already the government is holding field days at the Bethel property to educate people about composting with manure. Also, White Stone has helped THM introduce soil testing to Malawi. Even though the test kit being used are very basic, testing the soil is a totally new concept for almost all Malawians and to say it is being well received would be an understatement.
Another agricultural initiative at the Bethel Training Center is the development of a gravity-flow irrigation system. Water is pumped from the nearby lake up a gradual slope into a basin. It is then allowed to flow downhill through channels from which the water is redirected down each row of maize. While labor intensive, the system is working extremely well and the maize is growing rapidly...even though Malawi is in the middle of the dry season and it has not rained here in many weeks. Currently there are about 6 acres in the irrigation system, with plans in place to add another 3 or 4 acres as funds become available.
Video clips will be posted showing all three agricultural initiatives whenever we have access to a stronger internet signal. (DH)
August 8. 2013---Bethel Is Being Birthed
The vision for the Bethel Training and Retreat Center was given to Harrison Chinyama more than 25 years ago. It is to be a place where Timothy Harvest Ministries can hold conferences like the ones we are helping conduct, host outreaches and demonstrate to Malawians ways they can improve their life. White Stone Community Church has partnered with THM to help make this vision a reality. About 31 acres of land was purchased a few years and what was once just a dream is now taking shape.
To reduce construction cost for the many buildings that will eventually make up the Bethel campus, White Stone purchased a compressed earth block machine for THM. Many in the WS family had a chance to make blocks last fall before the machine was shipped to Africa. A team of Malawians (mostly THM staff) is now well trained and the machine is turning a mixture of clay, sand and a little bit of cement into strong blocks as quickly as the hopper can be filled. By the way…the well wishes written on that hopper by the WS family are easy to read and bless the crew as they work.
Further confirmation this is all part of the plan for Bethel is that the perfect high-clay soil for these blocks is readily available on the property. God has put everything in place.
Roblee, Starke and I have had the privilege to help make over 1,450 blocks this week. I have some video clips of the machine in operation, but won’t be able to post them until we get somewhere that has a stronger internet signal.
The blocks we helped made are enough to make a prayer house in an isolated corner of the Bethel property that looks out over a small lake. The same design as the White Stone prayer house, which is currently under construction, will be followed using blocks from the same machine. How cool is that?
Well it gets even better. Both prayer houses will have a small porch. The WS prayer house is being positioned so sunsets can be seen from the porch and the Bethel prayer house is being positioned so sunrises can be seen from its porch. The Malawians will be telling the sun “good morning” and then their WS brothers and sisters will tell the day God created “good bye” that same evening.
I had the privilege of being at the Bethel prayer house location as the sun rose one morning this week. I’ll post a picture of that sunrise when the internet is cooperating. (DH)
August 7. 2013---A Busy Week
Our time in Malawi is quickly slipping away. I apologize for not posting updates more frequently, but a lack of free time and unreliable internet connections have made it somewhat difficult. In addition to helping with the conference…Starke, Harper and especially Roblee have been working at the Bethel Training Center this week, which is a little more than half an hour from conference headquarters. They even camped at the Bethel property one night. More on what we’ve been working on later.
The second conference is rolling along nicely. Our teachings have been refined slightly and probably improved…and seem to be hitting the mark for the attendees. Several men were either unable to attend eek this week were called away after they got here. Therefore, we have more women than men. I’m told the women breakout sessions have been outstanding, with many Godly women in attendance. The men have been a little slower to open up…partly because there are many first-timers attending…but God is clearly at work among the men, too.
Last night was a “fire away” which is a time when we gather with the Malawians around a fire on the beach and asked each other questions to learn more about each other’s cultures. We were not able to have a “fire away” last week due to high winds. The Malawian pastors were amazed to hear we do not take an offering during services at White Stone. At least 2 offerings are taken at most Malawian church services and giving to the church is a frequent sermon topic. These people are overwhelmed by White Stone’s generosity.
There was some strange sightings inside the “tent city” at the conference headquarters the night Steve, Steve and I slept at the Bethel property. The Malawians immediately began praying against this apparent spiritual attack…joined by the WS team members who were woke up by the excitement. Things have been quiet since then. (DH)
August 4, 2013---A Day of Rest and Reflection
It is Saturday morning and everything is strangely quiet. The campground is empty. There is no singing and praying in the pavilion. The only thing that is the same as past mornings is that big waves continue to crash into the shore of Lake Malawi due to several days of high winds. It is also unseasonably cool. The first pastoral couples conference ended with lots of warm fuzzy feelings. The attendees were extremely gracious and complementary as we said our good-byes. Everyone agreed the teaching and interaction had been extremely helpful and they promised to share what they learned with their churches.
After having goat for lunch…which was very good, especially in a stew…most pastors, wives and young children climbed into the back of a large truck to be transported to the bus stop. Others set out for their homes either on foot, bicycle or motorcycle.
Last night the entire WS/THM team went into an overwhelmingly Muslim village to show “The Jesus Film” and share the gospel. It was amazing to see people seemingly appear from the darkness once we got set up enough to play music. When the film started there were 200+ standing and sitting on the ground. Most were spellbound by what they were watching and hearing. Right after the crucifixion scene, one of the THM pastors…Eddie who is a former Muslim…shared the gospel message. A throng that had to have been well over 50 rushed forward when given an opportunity for forgiveness. Many were children, but there were also many young adults who accepted Jesus as their personal savior last night. It was incredible to witness. THM will now work to start a church in this village. (DW)
August 3, 2013
We had a good closing ceremony for conference #1 (though it was sad to see all of the wonderful couples leave). Then THM took us to a village and showed the JESUS film. Today we got to catch up on sleep, take a long walk on the beach, and spend some extra time with each other. We are excited for the next group of couples to arrive tomorrow! (KW)
August 1, 2013---Serious Topics…Fun and Games
The 1st conference is rolling along smoothly. Strong bounds are being formed between the WS team and many pastor couples…and especially the THM staff.
We have started doing eye tests and giving away inexpensive reading glasses. For most, the improvement in their ability to see things at arm’s length is nothing short of remarkable. We are seeing huge smiles as they walk away with their new glasses. Some can now read God’s Word for the first time in years. There are some who have vision problems too severe to be corrected entirely by reading glasses, but they too are extremely grateful.
The various sessions are building on the theme of Leadership in God’s Kingdom, which begins...and ends...with serving others. Biblical examples of how God’s leaders have a servant’s attitude, a willingness to be submissive and a humble spirit are being studied.
Tuesday afternoon Karina led an excellent teaching session on HIV/AIDS. This was followed by lively discussions when the men and women were separated to talk about sexual purity. Pastors were encouraged to boldly teach their congregations that purity in marriage is absolutely essential to a Godly life.
Wednesday afternoon...to give attendees a break from the intense topics we'd been covering...we divided the entire group into 7 teams and set up 7 different game stations with a WS team member at each station. Games like trying to throw a frisbee through a hulla-hoop hanging from a tree were played and scores kept. To say everyone had fun would be a huge understatement. The Malawians had a blast! And so did we. Perhaps even more fun was the awards ceremony. Everyone got a bite-sized American candy bar and the winning team a full-sized candy bar. There was much celebration when the champion team was announced. We should probably reteach the lessons on humility. (DH)
June 30, 2013---Off to a Rousing Start
God’s hand was clearly on the first day of the 2013 THM/WS pastoral couples conference. The WS team received a warm welcome from old friends and new at the conference opening. It was wonderful to hear our Malawian brothers and sisters singing praises to our Lord. Wish we American could dance like Africans. They loved the picture of the White Stone family smiling and waving.
All teaching sessions were extremely well received. “Leadership Begins with Serving” is the theme of this year’s conference. Doug gave an overview of what leadership in God’s Kingdom looks like and how it is different from the way the rest of the world views leadership. Shauna will be teaching on how Godly character is essential to effective leadership throughout the conference, looking closely at 1 Timothy 4:12. Steve and Dianne will be looking at biblical examples of couples who led together. Josh is teaching on examples of Jesus’ sacrificial leadership.
Breakout sessions for men and women resulted in lively discussions. The men started to tackle questions on how to maintain a servant’s attitude when dealing with difficult situations within the church.
The day concluded with Doug and Kenny, THM’s director of agriculture, leading a session on soil fertility. This is a very important subject because after several poor crops in a row Malawi could be on the verge of a famine. Both the pastors and wives were very attentive and asked lots of questions…especially after they heard about the tremendous increase in maize production seen at the Bethel Training Center when composted manure was incorporated in the soil before and during the growing season. (DH)
2013 White Stone Malawi Team Leaves July 25
Steve Roblee, Shauna Dye, Karina Watson, Josh Watson, Dianne Starke, Steve Starke and Doug Harper leave Wednesday to travel 8,000 miles to Malawi, Africa. The team will conduct two 5-day conferences for Malawian pastors and their spouse. The theme of this year’s conferences is "Be A Leader” and the focus will be on what it means to be a servant leader in God’s Kingdom. Training on crop production, construction techniques, HIV/AIDS prevention and eye exams will also be provided.
Followup to 2012 couples conference
February 3, 2013
Pastor Anthony Banda just came back from 10 different zones where he went to see the impact of the 2012 conference.
We can only praise and thank the Lord for He is doing through the conferences. The impact is big and very encouraging.
As a way of trying to find out the truth of the matter on the ground, we targeted the Church councils in the different denominations from which the conference participants came from. 30 out of 50 church leaders who attended this consultation meeting were those who have never attended any conference in the past 5 years. Just to quote their statement when asked how they know about the conference and any benefits is any they said; "We came to testify that we know whatwver happens at the conference through the representative." At this point anthony was suprised to hear the church leaders tell him the thems and the topics covered during these conferences and how they have been transformed.
At Uliwa in Karonga, northern part of Malawi, Anthony was welcomed and hosted by the Chairperson of the Pastors fratenal who has never attended any of the conferences. Surprisingly, although Pastor Sikwese the one who had attended the conferences twice was not present because he was transfered by his church to work in another district, yet a good number of people and pastors were also practicing the technology of planting potatoes in the tires as taught by Kate in the 2011 conference.
In Kasungu, a district which is 109 Kilometers west of Nkhotakota where Timothy Harvest Ministries is based, Pastor Yuda of the New Convenant Church had organized 3 Community based couples conferences in the past year wre all the topics learned at the 2012 conference were shared to those that had no chance to attend the Couples/Leaders conference at Nkhotakota.
The impact is great. The members of the Kingdom of God are being transformed through our conferences. We are therefore very much encouraged that the almight King of Kings decide to work with us in sliming the gap that has been existing in most of the couples called by God to work with Him in His great Vineyard.
Traditions and customs most of the time have divided the husband and wife so much that instead of working as one institution for the extension and up building of His Kingdom their ministry is left struggling in running with the vision as traditionals, customs and other beliefs tear them apart.
The Lord inspired us to bring together the husband and wives together through the topics taught at the couples/ leaders conferences. We see couples eating together for the first time in life. This please the Lord. We invite you to pray for this work.
This years couples conference is scheduled on July 26, to August 13, 2013. Ar you not going to be part of that? How?
May the Lord bless you.
Harrison CHinyama ( Director)
August 3, 2012---There is a responsive refrain often used in Africa that says, “God is good…all the time…all the time…God is good.” God was definitely good all the time during the pastor conferences that just concluded. I wish all of you could see what the WS team saw when we were introduced during closing comments. We were sitting together in the front row and when we stood up and turned around we were greeted by more than 100 smiling faces. The Malawians were cheering wildly in appreciation and waving their hands above their heads. The warmth and love was overwhelming.
Many powerful testimonies have been shared by conference attendees about how what they have learned will impact their families, their churches and their communities. The biblical teaching has provided new perspectives and will be the subject matter for countless sermons. The teachings and discussions about marriage and couple relationships have clearly had a huge impact. And because food production is so critical to life in Malawi, the agricultural sessions lasted twice as long as scheduled because they kept asking questions.
God has done many amazing things the past two weeks….especially among pastor wives. At least four wives who had never fully understood salvation gave their life to Christ. Another wife (who is a strong believer) was able to turn years of anger against her husband over to God. Several other very difficult family situations were shared with WS team members…especially Dianne and Shauna…and were prayed for. And many, many husbands recommitted themselves to having a Godly marriage.
Yesterday afternoon Starke, Roblee and I took on a challenge of a different sort. We traveled to the property where the Bethel Training Center will be built to try and determine why the well pump was not working properly. With the help of three THM staff members, we pulled the pump and did some simple maintenance work. And praise God….the pump now works better than ever before.
Today was THM director Harrison Chinyama and his wife Memory’s 21st wedding anniversary. They were honored with a cake. Also, Josh (and Karina) was given an early wedding present….two bowls made at the nearby pottery.
We leave tomorrow morning for Lilongwe and the wedding reception of Ephraim, THM’s accountant and administrator. It will be fun to see what a Malawian wedding reception is like. After an overnight stay in Lilongwe, we fly out Sunday morning. If everything goes as scheduled, we’ll be back in Wisconsin Monday afternoon.
Because this might be the last time we have internet service in Malawi, this could be the final blog. We are all anxious to get home and share stories with you individually. Thanks for praying….keep it up.
August 2, 2012---It’s midday Thursday and the second conference is starting to wind down. The WS team continues to enjoy good health and strong teamwork. We are all tired….at times very tired….but God continues to give each and every one of us the energy to do his work at exactly the right time. All the teachings have been extremely well received and I sense the conference will end tomorrow on a strong note.
Thanks to the generosity of the White Stone family, fabric was given to all the women and T-shirts to the men yesterday. We have fun being your representatives when giving these much-appreciated gifts. The pastor couples accept these gifts with a great deal of humility and spontaneous singing usually breaks out afterwards. One group of mostly men blended their voices into a particularly beautiful song of thanksgiving.
After the presentation of the gifts, one pastor came to the WS team and asked if he could exchange his gifts. His wife was not able to come with him and he wanted to “trade in” his T-shirt and bible for a piece of fabric so he could take it to his wife. It was a very special moment and told us the biblical teaching we’ve shared about husbands serving the wife in sacrificial ways is sinking in. Praise God.
August 1, 2012---We’ve reached the halfway point of the second conference already. In the last blog I asked you to pray this week’s attendees would “open up” and freely interact with each other and the WS team. Well….God has answered those prayers big time. This has become a very enthusiastic group, especially during praise/worship time and the 2:00 am prayer walks. They are also very willing to participate in discussions. It is also a surprisingly large group. Apparently word got out among Malawian pastors about last week’s conference. Only 45 pastor couples were invited, but 56 showed up. Every spare tent is being used and men who came without their wife are sleeping in the same tent.
Steve Roblee and I spent most of the past two days in Lilongwe pricing construction materials for the Bethel Training Center and looking for the best way to provide electricity. We learned a great deal and had a lot of fun with Harrison and his son-in-law Alfred, who works for the largest construction company in Malawi. There was one encounter that felt like a “divine appointment.” We happened to meet a man originally from Illinois in a store that sells building supplies. He and his wife have been in Malawi seven years, spreading the gospel and doing many of the things planned for the training center. Larry has expertise in water, sustainable farming and what he calls community healthcare. They have concluded outsider need to “train trainers” so Africans can teach Africans. That is exactly the approach WS and THM are taking. We had a great conversation and exchanged contact information. Roblee and I are convinced God has provided a great resource as we move forward with the training center.
Yesterday was Luke and Shauna’s anniversary. Roblee and I didn’t get back from Lilongwe in time to be there, but the Malawians threw a celebration to honor Shauna. She will have to tell you about it, but it sounds like it was an anniversary she’ll never forget…..even though her man was seven time zones away.
Later last evening the film Fireproof was shown. Many of the things we are teaching about couple relations are illustrated in this film. It was in English, but Pastor Francis (one of our interpreters) provided a running commentary that was hilarious to Americans.
July 29, 2012---Sunday morning found the WS team worshipping at three different Malawian churches. Most services have two teachings or messages….with lots of singing and dancing throughout the service. Steve and Dianne traveled to a village south of where we are staying and each provided a teaching. Shauna and Steve Roblee teamed up and Josh and I went together into Nkhotakota.
Josh and I went to Anthony’s church. Anthony is a THM staff member and chairman of the conferences. I wish you all could meet his wife Agnes. Although she speaks little English, her smile radiates God’s love. They have four children, including twin boys who appear to be full of mischief but are a lot of fun. Anthony’s church is small (there were probably 40 people there yesterday) but vibrant. There was lots of dancing….which took Josh and I to the edge of our comfort zone. We did our best, but there was no question who the white boys were during the times of dancing.
Our service lasted “only” three hours. The driver then took us across town to the church Shauna and Roblee were at. Because the announcements alone at that church lasted an hour, we got there in time to hear Steve talk about the cost of being a disciple. We then meet up with the other crew for a mid-afternoon lunch and some of us went for a walk on the beach.
Most of the pastor couples arrived Sunday afternoon/evening for the next conference. Almost all of the couples that attended the first week had been to a THM conference before, so they knew each other and knew what to expect. The majority of this group has never attended a conference like this. Please pray that they will open up and participate in the many discussions we have planned throughout the week.
Harrison, his son-in-law Alfred who is an electrician, Roblee and I will spend most of Monday and Tuesday in Lilongwe. We will be looking for ideas and solutions for several challenges associated with the construction of the Bethel Training Center….including the best way to provide electricity. Solar appears to be the best choice for the primary source of electricity.
July 28, 2012---The entire WS team went on a field trip today. There were only two stops on this field trip, so it was supposed to be relatively short to allow time for a little rest and relaxation before the next batch of conference attendees start to arrive tomorrow. But things seldom go as planned in Africa and it turned into a long day.
The trusty Toyota mini bus, which now has more than 400,000 kilometers on it, first took us to visit Harrison’s parents at the family farm. Nelson Chimyama is a truly amazing man. He’s 95 years young and has failing eyesight (with no eye glasses) yet he is in the process of writing a book (by hand) about how the greatest work on earth is to spread the message of Jesus. We met many family members and gifts were exchanged. Nelson presented Starke with a live chicken. It was priceless to see Steve standing there holding the chicken and trying to act grateful.
We then traveled to a very remote village on a road that only a goat could enjoy. A bridge had been washed out during the rainy season, so we had to drive across a small river on what were in effect large stepping stones. What a ride!
One of the first water filters White Stone sent to Malawi was placed in this village. The improvement in the health of the families drinking from this filter has been remarkable. A year ago the chiefs from surrounding villages (which are almost all Muslim) pleaded with the Starke's and Ann Marie to send more filters. Our mission today was to inform them more filters are indeed on the way. It was a sweet moment. One of the village “headsman” who speaks some English stood up and said he’d never heard of a church as generous as White Stone. We briefly told the crowd gathered around us about the living water offered by Jesus and prayed for the village in Jesus’ name.
July 27, 2012---The first conference is over and both the WS and the THM teams are enjoying some down time. The conference ended on a high note, with many wonderful testimonies and warm good-byes. I can still see the smile faces of pastor couples as they were leaving. Not sure who was blessed the most this week…us or them. They were sad to see their time with us end, but they were anxious to get back to their villages to share the biblical truths they had learned with their families and churches.
The WS team was tired at the conclusion of the conference, but it was a very satisfying tired. After a couple hours of rest the six of us walked a couple miles down the beach to Nkhotakota Pottery. A few items were purchased, but the real value of this excursion was that we had a chance to talk about what happened the first week. Everyone agreed that everything went extremely well. By the way…other than a couple minor problems, the health of the entire WS team is good. Please continue to pray.
July 26, 2012---It’s the second to last day of the first conference and a sense of peace has settled over our gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ. The unity between Malawians and the WS team has never been stronger. Many testimonies have been shared both privately and to the entire group about the impact the conference is having on the marriage of pastor couples. Yesterday afternoon an older gentleman who has been immersed in the African culture of male superiority over women apologized to his wife and asked for her forgiveness. It was powerful. The next step is for these pastors to take what they have learned about what the Bible says about marriage back to their villages and teach it with boldness.
As I write this, Josh is doing a masterful job teaching about the Holy Spirit in his morning session. This is the second day he has taught on this topic. Yesterday’s question and answer time following Josh’s afternoon session became spirited. Josh answered every question and comment with authority, citing many scriptural references.
There was a “fire away” last night. This is a time when the Malawians build a large fire on the beach and we all form a circle. The Malawians can ask any question that is on their mind. A very difficult question quickly came forth: In light of what we have learned about what the Bible says about marriage, should a wife continue to have sexual relations with her husband if he tests positive to HIV? A very frank discussion followed….ranging from submission to the significance of the marriage vows to the use of condoms to trusting God to protect our health. This is an example of the kind of situations African pastors deal with in their ministries.
At the conclusion of Doug and Shauna’s final session on couple relationships, everyone prayed out loud for Shauna’s health. Shauna has been feeling well the entire time we have been here, so we asked God for complete healing. WOW….was it ever powerful.
July 25, 2012---Yesterday was another very busy and very satisfying day for the WS Malawi team. All the teaching continues to be extremely well received. The men’s breakout session was energized with a lively discussion about what the bible says about how husbands should treat their wife verses the African culture. Roblee did a great job getting this debate between Malawian pastors started. Many things were said that needed to be said in this setting.
Everyone on the team except Josh went on field trips yesterday afternoon. Josh stayed behind to teach. Starke, Roblee and Harper went with Harrison to the property where the Bethel Training Center will be built. Most of the work done so far has been on the agricultural projects, but with the help of a drawing of the master plan you can almost envision buildings that will be used to train men and women to extend God’s Kingdom in this part of Africa. The block machine will be a huge asset in making this vision a reality….once it gets here.
While the guys were tromping around the property, Dianne and Shauna visited two villages where water filters were placed last year. The filters are working well and I have no doubt the girls spread the love of Jesus to these people who live well off the main road.
It is astonishing how much respect Timothy Harvest Ministries now receives throughout Malawi and especially here in the central region. Just two years ago it was a small ministry that hardly anyone knew about. This year there were 4 members of the media (radio and newspaper) present for the opening of the conference and a film crew has been at the conference and going with us on field trips. They are making a 15-20 minute documentary about the impact THM is having on life in Malawi.
Also, there was a government official here Monday morning who made some very positive comments about the organization and then attended the marriage session Shauna and I led. After that session he asked us if we could come back to Malawi to do the same teaching at his church. This recognition of the value THM brings to Malawi is the result of hard work by the THM staff, these conferences and the tremendous support White Stone is providing for this ministry.
July 24, 2012---The first conference got off to a rousing start. There is a reason Malawi is called “The Warm Heart of Africa” The people are so friendly and thankful. Over and over they express their appreciation for White Stone and everything the WS family has done for them.
And do they ever know how to praise and worship our God. Their joy and exuberance when singing and dancing is amazing. And when it’s time to pray, there is no less exuberance. For those of you who don’t know, when Malawians pray together they say (sometimes shout) whatever God puts on their heart…at the same time. It sounds like mass confusion, but apparently God can sort things out because these prayer times are powerful.
Speaking of powerful, that’s the best word I can come up with to describe what Roblee and I (Harper) experienced early this morning. We got up at 2:00 to join about 15 of our Malawian brothers and sisters on a prayer walk through the tent village and around the perimeter of Stone Terrace. There has been a sense of peace and protection on this place since we got here and we want to make sure that continues to be true because there is a very evil presence not far from here.
I wish you could all see the African sky at night. I don’t know if it’s true, but it seems like there are more stars on this side of the equator. The majesty was breathtaking. Psalm 8 kept running through my mind.
The teaching sessions seem to be going exceptionally well. The sessions on marriage are being very well received. As always, Josh is doing an excellent job covering biblical topics. And the agricultural session went much longer than planned, lasting into the early evening. This year’s maize crop in Malawi was not very large and there is concern another short crop will lead to famine next year.
This afternoon, some of us White Stoners will be going to the property on which Bethel Training Center will be built. There are also village visits planned for us throughout our two-week stay.
Please continue to pray. We love and miss you all.
July 22, 2012---It was a good Sunday, although a very long day for Steve and Harrison. It took 12 hours to retrieve our luggage and the boxes of conference supplies from the airport. Praise the Lord! Every piece was there with no damage.
The rest of us attended church together. Josh spoke on "running the race well" and did a great job, although many Malawians seems puzzled when he used the upcoming Olympic games to illustrate points. Hate to break this to you Josh, but not everyone in the world is a sports nut.
As I write this, the pastor couples that have arrived are outside singing, dancing and praising our Lord. Absolutely beautiful.
The first conference starts in the morining. Please pray for clarity in teaching and more warm interaction between the WS team and the Malawians.
July 21, 2012---The WS team arrived safe and sound on schedule and we are now at the conference site resting and preparing. Unfortunately, none of our luggage or boxes containing conference supplies arrived with us.
We have received word from the airport that at least part of the luggage has found its way to Malawi. Praise God! Harrison and Steve will leave a 4:00 tomorrow morning to go pick up our stuff. It's a 4-hour drive each way.
It has been a very pleasant, restfull day. A gentle breeze has blown off Lake Malawi, which is about the same size as Lake Michigan. We have been able to catch up on sleep, do some planning and get reaquainted with the THM staff. They send warm regards to their brothers and sisters at White Stone.
The kids from neighboring villages definitely remember last year's conference and all the fun they had with Dawn and Alex. We get mobbed every time we venture onto the beach.
Most of the tents that attendees will be sleeping in have been set up and the first couple arrived this evening. Many more couples will arrive tomorrow, so things will soon get much busier and will stay that way the rest of our stay.
We were planning to split up the team and go to two churches tomorrow morning, but because one of the vehicle has to go to the airport the rest of us will attend the same church. Pastor Josh will be preaching.
July 18, 2012---It's departure day for the six-person team that will represent White Stone at this year's THM Pastors Conferences in Malawi. Please pray that Shauna Dye, Dianne Starke, Steve Starke, Josh Watson, Steve Roblee and Doug Harper will be "clothed in God's armour" as they travel halfway around the earth to serve and extend His Kingdom.
God has blessed this mission in ways that are almost unbelieveable. Because the White Stone family has been obedient to God's leading, this trip is now fully funded at $62,000 and there are enough extra funds to start THM projects that were thought to be months, if not years, into the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Furthermore, 128 pieces of fabric were donated. These beautiful pieces of fabric have been packed and will be used to bring great joy to many Malawian women.
Proverbs 19:17 -- "When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord, and He pays wonderful interest on your loan."
While all this generousity is overwhelming and undeniable evidence that God is blessing this work in Malawi through THM, by far the greatest need starts right now. Please be diligent in praying for the WS team, the pastors and wives who will be traveling to the conferences, the instruction and teaching that will be shared and the other work that will be done. We are headed to the front lines of a spiritual battle. Please provide prayer cover.
July 11, 2012---Excitement is building. The 2012 Malawi team is making final preparations and things are coming together nicely. The trip is not yet fully funded, but the $62,000 goal is now within sight. There has also been a tremendous amount of fabric donated this week, but we still need at least 15 more pieces. God is faithful and extremely good.
A huge "thank you" goes out to the White Stone family for your generosity. Please be diligent in praying for safe travel and that God will use your representatives in Malawi in amazing ways.
June 28, 2012---In less than three weeks a team of six from White Stone Community Church will be leaving for Malawi to help THM conduct a pair of week-long conferences for about 100 pastors and their wives. This is the 5th consecutive year these conferences have been held.
This year's team includes Steve and Dianne Starke, Josh Watson, Shauna Dye, Steve Roblee and Doug Harper. In addition to extensive biblical teaching, instruction on church leadership, marital relastionship and sustainable farming will be offered. The team will also help THM plan and strategize for the construction of the Bethel Training Center.