In 2011 I was asked by Bro. Paul, Director of Missions of Washington Osage Baptist Association, who was a member of my church, to help him take a group of high school and college students to Africa. Africa was not on my list of places to go. But, because of our friendship and to support a couple of our church youth who were going, I reluctantly agreed to help him.
With a little fear in my heart, we loaded onto a plane with several teenagers and headed to Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa. Within a couple of days, I found myself in one of the remotest parts of the earth. Hours away from electricity and running water, I walked up to a mud hut with a grass roof to share with a family who had never seen a white person the good news of Jesus Christ. That moment changed my perspective on the Great Commission forever. In this remote village where the Gospel had never been preached, we found people eager to learn and give their hearts to Jesus. Bro. Paul (and I was so thankful I had a couple years to get the guts to help) baptized dozens of new believers in a dirty creek. A new church was born and the people of that area of Africa received the light of Jesus.
Since that time, I have made several trips to Malawi to start and strengthen churches. I got to introduce my two oldest children to my friends there and watch them lead many to Jesus. I got to be part of starting over 20 churches. Most of those churches run more each Sunday than the church I pastored. I got to help my friend Bro. Paul take his last trip to Malawi as he was in his final days of cancer. Just a couple of weeks after that trip I was preaching his funeral. I also got to support three orphan and widow feeding centers, two of which were started and funded by my last church. My most fruitful ministry has come in a place that I was scared to death to visit.
I am so excited to introduce two more people to my friends in Malawi. Michael Hickman and Kaitlyn Hickman will be joining me in May. It has been two years since we have been able to take a trip to Malawi because of COVID. When our last trip had to be cancelled, Washington Osage Baptist Association sent the money they had raised for the trip to help fund a new church. The plan was for that first church I helped start in Kalulu to start a church in a new village they had identified as in need of the gospel. The leaders of that church went into this new village and witnessed hut-to-hut and preached to anyone willing to hear. In one week, they saw 40 people give their lives to Jesus and were baptized. I cannot wait to go meet this new church and help disciple these new believers.
Our trip to Malawi is one of three mission teams we are sending out this summer. The other two teams are going to Panama. These are your teams. Not everyone can go but everyone can participate. Your gifts to our mission fund help support those who God has called to take the name of Jesus to the nations. I cannot wait to see how God uses the obedience of our church. These are far from vacations. The teams will be working hard everyday and having to deal with a new culture which will be uncomfortable in many ways. Your support financially and in prayer is a huge encouragement to those going and is just as important. We have an enemy who does not want us to go. Pray for our teams and those who they will be ministering to. May God prepare hearts even now for them to be open to Jesus.
In Christ, Pastor Michael