Day 1: started with a meeting at 7:30 in the morning, tea, bread and then off to church for the first service which went from nine in the morning until twelve noon, more or less. I skipped out after about twenty minutes to see what I could do to help the ladies who were preparing lunch at manse number one. The electricity happened to be off so the cooking was done over three different fires. Have you ever made rice over a fire? Well, I witnessed it this day. It’s like camping. Then people started returning to the manse and I was sent to the sitting room to chat with one of the visiting pastor’s wives. It was a pleasant chat, and then lunch was served at about 1:00. After that we scurried to manse two to sit for about ten minutes before it was time to go back to church for the afternoon service. David spoke about revival meaning new life and that this was a time to consider what newness might be offered to us today. Perhaps some had just known about God but had not yet actually known God. Others might want to meet God in a new way. Still others might want to offer themselves up in prayer. Some was in English and then was translated into Chichewa and some was in Chichewa only. I think it was past five when the service ended with the Lingadzi women’s choir singing a song as people exited the church. Then, by God’s grace, the power was back on just in time to prepare dinner. I was happy to open the fridge and find that the contents were still cold.
Day 2: I decided to make some scones to share at the 7:30 meeting, so I was up at an early 6:30 in the morning. Again, the meeting transpired, food, then this time we were off to Mkochi prayer house for the morning service. We arrived to find a few mats spread out under some trees within Mkochi village. On one side, chairs and a small table with a sound system were arranged for those leading the service. Somewhere behind the chairs, a generator hummed in the background. Sitting on both mats were children. We were welcomed by a few elders and then shown to the seats. After a few minutes, we briefly commented to one another that if children were the majority, we’d need to adjust the service to better accommodate them. So, I did a children’s sermon.
Mkochi Prayer House is the smallest and newest of the prayer houses of Lingadzi. They meet at Mkochi primary school which has standards 1-4 and which Lingadzi also supports. However, for Easter Revival, they chose to meet within the village of Mkochi. It is the small but lively community that I enjoy so much. There seems to be some good energy and there are women that have taken ownership and become elders and leaders. Within a culture where the power lies mostly in men’s hands, it is refreshing and exciting seeing these women stand up and take leadership positions.
Music was put on through the sound system for the children to enjoy. They quickly started to dance. A few more heard the music and came out of their houses to join. It seemed that we would be waiting for some time before starting the service, so we decided to play a game with the children. Duck-duck-goose seemed like the easiest to play for the range of ages and the space available in the shade. After a short while of playing, we found our way back to our seats and awhile after that, the service commenced. It was all in Chichewa and the English was translated into Chichewa. In the children’s sermon, I shared that God loves us, and so much so that Jesus came and died for us. I talked about how the more we know that, we can find value in the fact that God loves us so much, the more we see that it doesn’t matter what other people think. What matters is that God loves us. Again, there was a sermon, singing, and then at the end people were invited to accept Jesus or come up for prayer. People prayed and we sang songs in worship. It was a blessing to experience. We then went to one of the elder’s homes for a lunch of n’sima, rice, ndiwo, and fantas and cokes. At about 2 o’clock it was time to go to Kauma Prayer House for another service.
This second service of revival was similar in that the message was similar but the context was different. The people were gathered inside a building and there were still plenty of children but it was mostly adults filling the seats. There was a message that Jesus’ death meant salvation, plenty of songs of worship, hymns, choirs, and another invitation for prayer towards the end of the service. Many adults began to move toward the front. A few children came forward for prayer and so one of the elders and I took them aside to pray for and with them. Just as we started walking to the back, several more children stood up to approach the front (about thirty in all). After praying for a few of them we quickly saw that we wouldn’t have the time to pray for each one and so we did a lesson on prayer teaching them a few basics on how to pray. It was encouraging to see so many people (both children and adults) feel free to come. It was a beautiful picture of how we can share each other’s burdens. Another choir raised their voices in melody, as the service finished we walked out into a sunset-filled sky and the cooler air felt nice on my face. It was a good day of opening hearts to God in a new way.
Day 3: Easter Sunday. All the prayer houses came to Lingadzi (the mission station) to gather together and celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Once again, we began the day with a 7:30 meeting before traveling toward the church. My only experience of Africa is Malawi, and Malawi has some beautiful choirs. This is one aspect that I truly enjoy and I will greatly miss. The way that the voices come together is simply beautiful. On Easter there were many, many choirs.
The way the revival weekend was organized is that there were four locations, so there were four teams. Each team had four people. Some teams had all the people preach at each location, some teams had a different person preach at each location and the other three assist in worship. For Easter Sunday, each of the four teams was supposed to chose one person from their team to preach. Therefore, Easter Sunday had, four people preaching. Intermingled between the sermons were the various choirs, hymns, and prayer. After roughly forty minutes of the third preacher, I was tired. Bravely, I excused myself and returned to the house to change clothes, as I had been wearing the stifling and uncomfortable women’s guild uniform, and I went to manse one to assist in preparing lunch.
This Easter, there were no egg hunts, pastel decorations, or deviled eggs, but the message of Christ was preached and hope and grace were offered to people. It was a fun, exciting, and at the end of it all, we were ready for rest.