Update from Roberta in Malawi

My Dear Friends,

This quarter has been quite full with several visits to our field offices in Salima, Ntchisi and Chitipa. I love being able to get out of the office and out with the people – the heartbeat of World Relief Malawi. I always return greatly inspired and humbled at what those in the trenches are doing with very few resources, but with unity, and dedicated, hard work.

augustThe highlight amongst my visits was the one to Chitipa, the most remote of the districts. It is but a few kilometers from both Tanzania and Zambia, the northernmost district in Malawi. From Lilongwe, it takes 10 hrs. to reach Chitipa. Country Director, Gibson  and I visited 3 newly formed CBCCs which sprang up from just one Envisioning Training. The church communities caught the vision and God’s heart for reaching out to the most vulnerable to leave deep, lasting results. We also visited a highly motivated Ministry Team who has taken what they learned at the training, and multiplied it tenfold, instituting their own ideas and using their own resources to reach out to their community members. It was a bonus blessing to be in that beautiful, mountainous region.

august2On Aug. 14th, a 7-person team arrived from a large church in the US, wanting to learn about and see for themselves what World Relief does “on the ground” within the church communities. I was responsible for all the in-country arrangements – transportation, lodging, food etc.  I learned a lot from this maiden voyage; made several boo-boos, but all in all the whole trip came off very well, and most thankfully, they have agreed to partner with us for the next five years. Such a praise!! We’re hoping to have another team come in mid-Oct. who are already partnering with us who will come this time, to do ministry – teaching pastors, caregivers, counselors in the district communities they support. Of all the requests that come to our staff, more teaching and trainings are at the top of the list! They have a deep hunger for more and more of God and Godly living.

One thing you are guaranteed in Malawi is a multitude of opportunities to serve in numerous ways.  I was privileged to volunteer with Operation Smile, an organization which does cleft lip/cleft palate surgeries.  Those afflicted with this deformity are subject to torturous ridicule and stigma. Mothers of these children are accused of witchcraft or of committing some heinous sin. We heard one girl’s story of her peers throwing stones at her whenever she appeared in public.  Most end up hiding away in their homes leading lives of seclusion and loneliness.

august3The doctors, nurses and administrators did a stellar job of screening, identifying and performing surgeries on 152 people. The “before and after” effects are visually miraculous. I am always reminded of the spiritual analogy of the internal “surgery” that we undergo when we exchange our life for the life Jesus gives us. He removes the ugliness of our sin and source of our shame which transforms us even more dramatically – and lasts for all eternity!

I ask for your prayers for the upcoming elections (May 2014.) There have been some very interesting developments in terms of candidates recently, and the man who is the front-runner is a well-known, President of the Assemblies of God Church. There is much excitement and fervent prayer going on with regard to the possibilities of Rev. Chakwera becoming Malawi’s president in 2014. It is our hope that he will prove to be the leader who will bring this nation out of corruption and crippling poverty.

I always give thanks to God for you and how you comfort and encourage me with your prayers, emails and financial support I need to continue serving in Malawi. Know that I pray for you continually as well and welcome your prayer requests.

Blessings and Love,

Roberta

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Roberta Nagel’s Reflections on Easter

Roberta Nagel, volunteer Church Partnership Coordinator for Malawi, shares her reflections on Easter and the work of the Church in Malawi.

We are just a few short days from Easter. As I remember and reflect upon relationships formed half a world away from my birthplace, I am captured by the intimate analogies between what I have personally witnessed in lives here, and the miracle of our Lord’s resurrection.

Time after time, I see firsthand a life at the brink of poverty-induced despair or death from HIV/AIDS, but which now presents the picture of joy and health – all because of the love of God made manifest through World Relief servants who extended a small kindness – a cup of cold water – their lives have been “resurrected” from death to life.

Because a volunteer visited, and later accompanied her to get tested for HIV, a woman whose village was planning her funeral as they saw her wasting away from an AIDS related illness, is free from any symptoms and serves her neighbors as the leader of the very group who reached out to her with love in action. This, just one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories from World Relief venues the world over.

Just think, because of His Resurrection, we are in the unparalleled business of bringing resurrection rescue to those in our circles of influence as the extension of the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus. What a blessing and what a responsibility!

If you think this language is too dramatic, I invite you to ask them for yourself and see how they describe their transformation. They will assure you it is nothing short of a resurrection day miracle.

Easter Blessings to all – HE IS RISEN INDEED!

second photo by Marianne Bach