From Seattle to Lilongwe Malawi we spent approximately 30 hours in transit. Waiting in airports, flying in planes, traveling by van, then by bus, we finally arrived to our destination to see how the partnership between churches in the Northern Malawi area, World Vision, and Nazarene Compassionate ministries are working out.
Today's journey into the area development program solidified how significant 30 Hours can be.
30 Hours to see the Kingdom of God.
Silos of secure food say, we didn't abandon you.
Livestock and farming resources say we haven't forgotten.
Beautiful lives and families proclaim that the work is sustainable, that your way of life is valuable, and that the living God is alive in you.
We may wonder about World Vision, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, the 30 Hour Famine, organizations that support relief programs for the poorest of the poor. There are so many programs to consider and it really is hard to know if it's actually working.
But it is working.
In 1996 the area we visited today was malnourished and suffering.
In 2012, they have secure food and a livelihood that is sustainable. And as of September 1st, they will do so on their own, by their own hard work, prayer, and dedication to the resources they have shared and received.
The significance of going 30 hours without food to raise money for the Malawi programs has meant life to generations.
Today, when we arrived at the village of our brothers and sisters. A brand new church of the Nazarene greeted us.
They were singing before we could step onto the soil. As they received us tears began to well in my soul. I was shaking the hands of the past, the present, and the future.
They were welcoming us into their new temporary church, grown to 36 members!
We gathered in the shade of the hut and they told us of their plans for us.
We were to lay the cornerstone for their new building and light the fires of the brick burning kilns signifying that the work has begun!
What an honor and a privilege. There simply aren't enough words.
I was drawn to a young woman. She handed me her son, Fresha. I carried him with me to the site where the new church would be built as they sang "Hallelujah" around us.
White people like to cry. It means we are happy. And I've never felt this kind of happiness before.
The sun shone bright on our faces as our family welcomed us to holy ground.
They were healthy. They have a beautiful school. They are so thankful for the support that has been provided.
I asked the young mother if she was a teacher in the church. She was the youth leader. She has ten youth in the church...of 36.
Thousands of miles from home, the work is on fire in our hearts and we can't ignore the ripple of giving to one another.
They gave us gifts from the fruits of their labor.
Onions. Corn nuts. Wooden utensils. Smiles. Many thanks.
We offered them hope in our obedience to give to a very important program. And now, they will pass on the gift to others.
When you give to your church missions offering. Don't let cynicism trick you into thinking that it doesn't matter.
When you participate in things like the 30 Hour Famine, don't believe the lie that it's not really making a difference.
Today we met 22 church leaders of different denominations who come together to meet the needs of the community. The put their theological differences aside and do the most important work of love.
It was their gift to us today. A lesson in Jesus culture.
My heart sank into my feet when I realized one small girl in the village didn't have a mother or father. She is an orphan.
Orphans are real.
And thanks be to God that there are places like the place we saw today where they are still able to take care of their own even if their own don't have a parent looking out for their needs.
In one village, there are about 88 orphans, in another 22, in another 12, in another 48...it is our responsibility to care.
We should care about them deeply and see the great importance of their lives. They are longing to be known.
I know you now sweet children. I have seen your face. And I will never forget.
I pray, as we set the cornerstone for a new church today, that this privilege would not be wasted. But that it would serve as a defining moment in our lives that fuels the ministry of Jesus Christ.