Making Disciples in Malawi

Impact of World Service Giving


by Captain Ted Horwood – 

I welled up with gratitude recently in one of those rare, inexplicable moments when one is just thoroughly thankful.

We were traveling through the night to the remote village-home of an officer. It was 3:30 a.m., and we were deep in the bush. Another officer had just been promoted to Glory, and I was carrying his wife in the truck with me so we could bury him. I frankly felt that all too familiar feeling of helplessness.

Life is not easy for women in Malawi, particularly women officers. In addition to the arduous chores of fetching wood and water and caring for the children, they also maintain the traditional Army ministries at the corps. There was so little I could do, yet there was so much need.

While the grave was hand-dug by the boys in the village and the wailing and moaning of grief echoed throughout that remote site, the funeral proceeded. As I looked at the tired, frail widow, she was surrounded by officers and soldiers who genuinely wanted to minister to her.

A small band was playing. Their instruments were patched with airline tape–one only had two valves. They were playing under the Army flags, and behind them sat 300 curiously captivated village residents. I sensed that she knew she belonged to something bigger than her village; she belonged to a family that extended around the globe. She was an officer. Her husband was being buried in his uniform, with his Articles of War upon his chest. The future must have looked daunting to her then.

At that moment, I was grateful for the West. Although she didn’t realize it, she could take confidence in knowing that there were people supporting her both financially and prayerfully. In my experience, that is the heart of the Self Denial program–supporting ministries through officers in countries like Malawi. I’m reminded of Christ’s great commission: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.”

Making disciples here is both thrilling and exasperating. Malawi is a country thoroughly steeped in tradition. Even as I write, we are conducting a workshop at which the officers are describing the normal systems of polygamy, surrogate wives, and witchcraft. Islam is also a significant factor in discipling.

Yet, there is a terrific hunger for the Gospel. It’s as if people are held in a vise-like grip by the culture, and Sundays are their only release. We’ve been asked countless times to start the Army in villages throughout the country. We could easily double in size, but resources are scarce. So we wait for God’s timing.

As you in the West are considering the Self Denial program, we in the supported territories pray. It is through your giving to God, through the Army, that allows the Army to exist in countries like Malawi, and allows us to participate and contribute to this wonderful part of the Body of Christ. On behalf of my colleagues here I want to thank you in advance for your support in 1999.

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