(THINK OF PAUL HARVEY’S “PAGE TWO”)
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way…” Isaiah 43:19
It is with a deep breath and an expectant spirit that I begin the second phase of my service here in Malawi. Days as a Guest Lecturer at the seminary officially end with the Graduation Ceremony this Saturday. (I was going to teach during the upcoming Fall Semester, but, due to complications with and the costs of extending our Visas until December, we will be concluding our time of service in Malawi on October 11th!)
Now, I’m guessing most of you may not be surprised to learn that Phase Two this summer will include training for and venturing out on what is likely to be my last bicycle fundraising effort — this one stretching from the Northern tip to the Southern tip of Malawi. (I’ll wait a moment while you pull up a detailed map of Malawi or Map Quest.) The starting point will be Kaporo, July 16th, which is at the Northwestern corner of Lake Malawi. Biking along as much of the lake as possible (the roads are absolutely atrocious throughout Malawi; there isn’t even a surfaced road that extends along the entire length of the lake), we will pass through Mzuzu and also Blantyre, before concluding the 600-mile trek on July 25thin the little town of Marka, on the border with Mozambique. In need of bikes—a 2nd-year student, Hamilton, will be biking with me, wouldn’t you know each graduating seminary student is given a new geared mountain bike with which to begin their ministries in remote villages – God works new things out! and we will be renting the bikes from the new pastors.
Without admitting to the seemingly insurmountable logistics (e.g. the language barrier; overnight accommodations; safety, safety—did I mention safety; and the massive hurdle of raising donations within a nation in which people have virtually no discretionary funds and corporations don’t give to non-profit organizations), that must be overcome during waking hours between now and July 14th, when we begin the drive North to Kaporo…let me focus on the ultimately hopeful objective of the bike trip. There are four exceedingly worthwhile entities, each with their own distinct needs, constituencies, and potential donors:
1) The Josophat Mwale Theological Institute (JMTI), where I taught this past semester, has virtually no source of revenue with which to maintain and grow its faculty, programs and basic maintenance. BUT, one enormously promising source of significant revenue is completing a 9-room Hostel (the foundation and walls were constructed 5+ years ago before funds ran out), just behind the seminary that would serve as living-quarters for Church Pastors and Elders attending weekend and week-long Continuing Education and In-Service Training. (A 34-year-old 2nd-year student is going to bicycle with me on a first such experience in his life.) Cost to complete the Hostel: $50,000. (It’s what dreams are all about, plus, with God, all things are possible.)
2) Alinafe Communities of Hope is a non-profit Christian Ministry that serves an incredible 1800 elderly and disabled people in 18 villages surrounding Nkhoma Mission. This group of people are especially vulnerable as not only are they unable to make a living in Malawi, they are often targets of neglect to the point of death. Alinafe provides emergency food, plastic tarps for their tiny huts’ porous thatch roofs, help with growing maize and gardens, and the nourishment of Christian fellowship and community-building through the reading of Scripture, prayer and singing. Alinafe does more than any service organization in the region on a budget of just $28,000 a year; they need 2X or 3X this amount if they are going to provide more of faith’s and life’s necessities.
3) The Synod of Blantyre, in the Southern region of Malawi, is going to use the Bike Trip to raise additional donations, that have long-since, dried up, for the victims and families of those whose lands and homes were destroyed by Cyclone Freddy.
4) The Synod of Livingstonia, in the Northern region of Malawi, is going to use the Bike Trip to raise donations for the hospitals and remote Health Centers that are woefully underfunded.
So, let the new phase begin! And may God use it to raise desperately needed funds for the people and organizations mentioned above.