“And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.“Mark 6:31
Dear faithful ministry partners, after 11 years of full-time ministry here on the continent of Africa, we believe the time has come to take a sabbatical, a longer period of time used for rest and recovery. Every time we went to Romania or the US, it was on furlough, and we could barely dedicate 1 week for some sort of rest. It almost always seemed like our time “off” was more hectic and busy than back in Africa. If you’ve been following the updates about our family, than you most certainly know about our numerous health issues, about the fight with the fake medicine and the rest of the difficulties we’ve been experiencing in the recent 1-2 years. Under the guidance from several men of God I trust, including Pastor Keith, my pastor in Romania and also other board members of Hope for the Future, we have decided to take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year off, away from Malawi. During this time, the ministry in Malawi will continue under Stanley, Samuel, Tendai and Misozi. These are 4 capable and trained locals who have been prepared exactly for times like this one and I am confident they will do an amazing job. I’ve put together the 5 “R”s, showing what we will do during our sabbatical:
- Rest. We will take time to rest, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Year after year we’ve spent ourselves, not only 6-8 hours per day, but truly 24/24. Every time the phone rings, irrespective of the time of the day or night, we are always ready to help those who are in need.
- Renew. Giving to others and giving ourselves to others we’ve sometimes felt that our relationship with the Lord and within our family was on a secondary position. We will use this time to renew our relationship with the Father, as well as our relationships within the family.
- Reflect. The last 11 years were filled with ups and downs, many good things and a few not so good. We’ve had many blessings but also a fair share of trials. Many times we felt we were trapped in a certain rhythm, almost on autopilot. These months of rest will give us time to reflect on what God has done through us, what we have done and what needs to be done in the future.
- Recharge. We will use this time to recharge our batteries and get ready for what the future holds. We will listen to sermons – and not only preach, we will ready books, we will study the Word and we will even take some trips in nature, enjoying the beautiful creation God has made.
- Rev. Our life of ministry is not ending, quite the opposite, it will continue for as long as God keeps us alive. This time will allow us to rev up our engines, in preparation for the next stage in our ministry.
As I mentioned before, throughout these years of ministry we have trained a good number of local people who can continue to make sure the ministry in Malawi glorifies God and helps the people. We have people in place for every aspect of the ministry. Stanley is responsible for the Primary School, for the administration and he can pretty much do anything else, as he is also the local director. Samuel is responsible for the Bible Training Center, for “Farming God’s Way” and he is also an excellent driver who can take our mission teams anywhere and everywhere. Tendai is responsible for the Feeding Centers and Misozi will continue to oversee the Bible Clubs we have, including the 2 new ones in Nasedegu and Bwanali. Pastor Joseph Mtambo is overseeing the ministry in Kachere while pastor Simion and his wife are keeping an eye on the ministry in Mpyupyu. Pastor Katerere is always making sure all the local pastors are informed when we have Pastors Meetings or Pastors Conferences and he is also ensuring our students come to the Bible Training Center. All these faithful people have been doing this for several good years now, and they are experienced and prepared.
Pastor Keith Joseph from First Baptist will be ready to assist Stanley in case he needs help or advice and different people will be coming here on and off while we are away. All the mission teams will be able to continue to come and serve, without any interruptions or problems. As you are reading this, I am putting together a document which will have instructions for every aspect of the ministry, in case someone needs or wants to know all the details.
Should there be any emergencies, I will be ready to help in any way.
As far as our family goes and as far as I am concerned, this transition will not be an easy one, as for the past 11 years I don’t think there was a single minute where the ministry in Malawi was not my main concern. The ministry is the Lord’s and I know I have to put feet to that reality. We have total peace about this and we know this is God’s will for our life, even if at times the thought of “rest” really scares me. I do have questions which I can’t answer unless I say “The Lord will provide”. These questions are: “What will happen here?”, “What if the money doesn’t come in?”, “How will we survive?” and so on. We have to trust our Lord just like we’ve trusted him for over a decade and I know that, just like He did it until now, He will continue to provide. In Leviticus 25 God gave the command to Israel regarding the Sabbatical Year. Probably just like us, there were many who worried, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?” God’s response was supposed to give them peace and it gives us peace as well, “Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.” We believe that God will provide.
This sabbatical period will not mean only rest but a lot more than that; there are many aspects of our lives which were delayed just because of our need to be here in Malawi all these years. Our home needs repairs, Lita’s Romanian papers need to be done, as well as the US citizenship for our 3 kids. Even more, since last year I am on the board of Hope for the Future Romania and I will be using this time to help and be a blessing to the ministry and men who are on the team, one of whom has just started to raise his own support.
If you have reached this point in my article, Thank you! Would you please bear with me for a couple more minutes while I talk to you about money. First and foremost, our prayer and humble request is that every one of you will continue to support our family and ministry. Here is what we are asking you to personally do during this time: continue to pray faithfully for the ministry and pray for us; continue to financially support both the ministry and the family. Every aspect of the ministry in Malawi will continue and nothing will be shut down or slowed down: the 173 orphans will continue to eat twice a day, every day; the 740 kids (soon to be 900) will continue to receive their education; 16 young men will continue to attend the Bible Training Center; then there are the expenses related to the Camps, Bible Clubs, churches in need, staff, team, volunteers, fuel, electric, taxes, taxes, taxes (TIA), etc. Pray also about increasing the level of your support and last, but not least, ask God for the expansion of the reach of the Gospel in Africa.
Pastor Keith also wrote a letter for you, you can read it following this link: Hope for the Future Letter for Sabbatical Rest.
Below this paragraph I’ve started a Donation Form, a way for you to be a blessing if the Lord so leads you. This is what you need to do: The first step is to choose the currency (USD or Euros) and the amount, which is either predefined ($10, $20, $50 or $100) or custom. If you want this donation to be recurring for the duration of our sabbatical, you can choose that option. Next up is the payment method; currently we have 2 options for you: PayPal (quick and easy way to send money online, you can use your debit/credit card, no account required) or Offline Donation (cheques). If you choose the latter, you will be given a couple of options where you can send your cheque(s). If you choose PayPal, then you will be directed to their website where you can complete the transaction, as soon as you fill in your Name, Last Name and Email Address. At the end just press the “Donate Now” button. We are grateful for your support; may God bless you and reward you.
For any questions, informations or even invitations to speak at your church, please contact me here. My Prayer Letters will continue, with the exception of a 3 month break starting with November (you can sign up here). Same goes for articles on this blog.