Thursday, July 16, 2009

Life's Events

One of the advantages of being a long-term missionary in the same country for a number of years is that you get to share in the lives of people, see them change and grow and participate in their major life events. A couple of weeks ago, I got to participate in the ordination of one of the younger leaders in the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC).

As I sat with the other pastors who had come for the event, my mind wandered back to my first hearing of the name Kondwani. I remember one of my missionaries talking about one of the youth in his church that had a lot of potential. He was encouraging him to go to Bible College. I remember not long after seeing his application for a scholarship. I remember the letter of recommendation from his local church and his track record of getting involved with his church. I remember various conversations with him in his last year of school as he talked about what he thought the church in Malawi should look and act like. I remember his graduation. I remember conversations about him possibly helping our Hope for AIDS program and when he first started working in it. I remember his wedding and Heidi and I being asked to lead in the procession to the reception. Faith was a flower girl. I remember receiving the news that Kondwani and Madalitso had a child. Now he was being ordained as a pastor. Cool.

The ceremony was like a regular Sunday service (hymns, prayers, sermon), but with some extra pieces. There was a formal time when the General Secretary of the AEC followed a program from a book that has outlines and wordings for such special occasions. Then there was the laying on of hands by the pastors that had gathered for the occasion (about ten) and prayer. A few of the pastors were asked to give words of advice. My two words were to remain humble and to be approachable (two problems areas that I see among some of the pastors I know). At the end Kondwani was given a white collar. The roots of the AEC are inter-tangled with the large Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) which uses white collars as well. The collars are used on special occasions like weddings and funerals.

After the service, food was served. I was taking advantage of all the people gathered to catch up with various people I don’t see often. It made me late to arrive for the food. As I approached the pastors’ table I found the last plate of food. I was happy to find a chicken leg and ate the rice and accompanying sauce. Most of the pastors were finishing and began to disperse. Then it arrived, the special plate; liver and goat lung. The pastor nearest me apologized that I had found the last plate and insisted that I be the first to help myself to the special pieces. I smiled and accepted a small piece of liver. He began to insist I take more, but the thought was quickly overtaken as spoons appeared from all around as the dispersed pastors quickly assembled again to take part.

While goat organs may not be my favorite food, the opportunity to participate in someone else’s life like this is well worth it.


  1. Wow... how amazing!

    One of my fondest memories in Malawi was a late night in Chapananga under a clear sky full of stars with Kondwani and Thomas. It was near the end of my time in Malawi, and got ourselves into a really deep conversation about the church and what our views were on how things should be. I can say without a doubt, that it was one of the most encouraging conversations I had with a Malawian the entire time I was in Malawi.

    He was full of vision and just seemed to see things way different than other leaders I had met. He also seemed to be guided by compassion and a genuine love for people.

    I remember writing in my journal later about that encounter and just kinda resting at ease that the Church in Malawi will do just fine. God is raising up followers and equipping them for His work.

    I mean... that was just one memory I have of Kondwani... the other memories are best left untalked about on the internet (no one wants to hear how a white boy dances)!

  2. You are fast. I was still working on linking this post to FB when suddenly there was this comment there.

    Yes, I think that Kondwani will make a good pastor. The prevention program has taken off well. It is gaining note inside and outside the church. You had a part in all of that.