Greetings from the Warm Heart of Africa. My family and I are excited to be back home and labor for the Lord among fellow Malawians.
Before we got here, we stopped in Brussels, Belgium for Cross Cultural Ministry Internship (CCMI). This is a training program which all missionaries working with our denomination’s mission organization, Mission to the World (MTW), attend before heading to their field. It was a good training which was spiced up with good fellowship, plus Belgian waffles and chocolate (this is in no way an attempt to provoke envy).
I know some might be asking why I was attending a cross-cultural training when I am returning to my own culture? That was also the question I had when I was invited to register for CCMI. But do not let the name mislead you. It was more than a cross-cultural training. My wife Mwai and I both found it beneficial and appreciated it. It was good to learn how various cultures view the world and be reminded of the uniqueness of each one of them. I was encouraged to freshly see how the gospel of Christ transcends all cultures. There is no culture in this world incapable of embracing God’s holiness.
Having been away from home for six years, the training also helped to prepare us for what is called reverse culture shock (challenges faced when returning to your own culture after a longer period of time). While we were gone, Malawi did not stand still. Much has changed in Malawi, and so have we. How then do we fit back into our own culture? Our facilitators ably handled this topic and also helped us to prepare our children who had never lived in Malawi before for culture shock (challenges faced when adjusting to a new culture). We were forewarned that reverse culture shock could be worse than culture shock. This has proved true in the last two weeks, but by God’s grace I think we are managing it better. It could have been worse.
Out of the four weeks we had in Brussels, we had a full week devoted to learning more about church planting. The greatest emphasis during the week was the importance of making sure that we prioritize our walk with Christ before our work as church planters. It was important to be reminded (as was Martha in Luke 10:38-42) of the one thing most necessary. We also learned of various approaches to church planting including challenges that church planters face and how to faithfully navigate through them.
For me, working in a less developed country of Malawi, it was helpful to wrestle with the issue of preaching the Good News without neglecting needs of mercy and justice. How do I or the church practice generosity without creating dependency? In my experience, there are two extremes we need to avoid:
- Not showing any generosity for fear of creating dependency.
- Practicing generosity without considering the unintended consequences that our good intentions might cause.
Both of these extremes are not biblical. The gospel calls us as sinners to believe in Christ for our salvation, and one of the fruits of the gospel in our lives are good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-10). Wrestling with these issues with brothers and sisters and seeking to be biblically faithful in our ministries was one of the training’s highlights for me.
So the training was very helpful. Now it’s the time to begin putting some of these things into practice as we plant Christ Presbyterian Church in Blantyre. We covet your prayers.
May the Lord bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Confex Makhalira
Founder and Board Member of MRN