So what was great on Fri morning before we left for our next base, is that we had a time of prayer with the guys there. Colin had picked up that a way of really moving the football team on in their faith, and on Patience’s heart and Patrick’s too, would be to take them away for a week’s camp. The logistics were easily achieved, but the cost of the food, fuel and other things were not available at the Base. We were in a position to offer them that finance, and to our surprise they said they would be able to run the camp before their school term begins on 16th Sept.
I felt a real oneness with the guys on this base: it is a lonely and difficult work. They are coming to a YWAM regional meeting this Thurs now (I am playing catch-up and it’s Mon) so it will be good to see them again.
We had a bumpy drive to Ntaja, and arrived there in time for lunch. This base has a lot of activity going on – it is in the heart of a Yao-speaking area, who tend to be Muslims, but there are Christian centres too. Eliot and his wife Sabina run the base.
While we were there we met Justino who runs a YWAM base down in Kalimini in Mozambique, who was visiting with a primary healthcare school. YWAM run ‘schools’ with different focuses. If you were considering mission with YWAM, in order to get involved (apart from visiting, or supporting missionaries of course, which anyone can do!) you have to complete a DTS, which takes 5 and a half months. It’s a great thing for a young person to do in a year out.
It was brilliant to hear about the work the primary healthcare team had been able to do in Ntaja, as there are so many basic needs on Malawi that are not being met.
Eliot loves to take Jesus films into the villages, and we loaded up his gear, including petrol and a generator, a frame, amplifiers, projector, loudhailer.
We went that we were all squeezing n to Chris’ car, a red seven-seater Toyota Sienta including one in the back, for 26 km down what was probably the worst stretch of road on our trip (we ‘bottomed out’ three times within two seconds at one point according to Colin).
When we arrived I was amazed to see a swarm of children squealing with delight. There was a brilliant episode where a boy up a mango tree was hacking branches off with a panga (like a machete) so the view of the screen wouldn’t be blocked. Then the local pastor and chief grabbed the panga very energetically, like a whirling dervish demolishing undergrowth – in the end, the screen was erected further away so the pruning was for nothing.
The Jesus film is old now, and we waited until it was dark (playing lively music out of the speakers until then) to start showing it. An initial small crowd seated of about thirty children and along the road behind perhaps 15 adults grew to around 180 as the film went on.
We paused it with Jesus on the cross, and I gave a gospel message, which I was nervous about, but I think went okay. I led them in a prayer, which they prayed out loud, then they saw to the end of the film.
Colin came up at the end and invited those who were sick came up for prayer. I prayed with Eliot, who told me what the needs were before we prayed. It was really exciting to do this – Chris prayed for a girl whose arm felt better immediately. Eliot and I prayed for two people who had suffered severe strokes who we went over to meet, guided by the pastor.
During the film, we were all invited into a room to eat a meal of rice and vegetables (I didn’t have much as I was conscious of the gospel message I was given) – we were using our phone lights to see. They have a lovely tradition of service to pour water over your hands into a bowl, reminiscent of Jesus washing the disciples feet.
One long evening, and scary drive back in the dark, and six pairs of eyes glued to the patch of rutted road illuminated by Chris’ headlights, we arrived back at the Ntaja base to be told food was waiting for us. It was after ten at night already. I should say, due to being near the Equator, it gets dark consistently at around half five, and by 9 it feels like 11pm. I could see Colin didn’t want to eat, but we went into Sabine’s front room and were greeted by a large spread of pots, and a large thermos which told us there was hot water for drinks too.
I think in retrospect we were glad of that meal to fortify us and prepare us for the slatted beds we had to sleep on. I didn’t shift around too much in the night just in case!