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Malawi

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Easter Message

Over the past two months I have been the recipient of copious emails from our partners in Malawi, some of the communication has been of a personal nature. After all, the Malawian partners are my (and your) dear friends. Other emails have been business related, requests for receipts, proposals, data, etc. But there have been a quantity of communiques that make all of heaven rejoice. They represent the hope of the Easter message: life springing from the grave. The most recent partnership reports are snapshots of God's Kingdom advancing through God's Economy, and Somebody Cares, St. Gabriel's Hospital, and There is Hope. In order to better understand the significance of the reports, let me remind you of the context for each. Malawi is poor. There is no way to be discreet in my description. *The average worker earns less than $2.46 per day, and that is only if one is among the 53% of the population that is fortunate enough to find work. It is one of the world's most densely populated (over 15 million people) yet most undeveloped nations in the world. Malawi is a nation that has been adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Each of our partners is engaged in the fight to eradicate the disease and ameliorate its effects on the communities in which he/she is invested. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the adult population of Malawi such that 45% of the country's population is now under the age of 14! Orphans abound. Malaria is out of control. Every 30 seconds an African child dies from complications due to malaria. Thousands of those children are Malawian. The tragedy is that the disease is preventable with some simple prevention techniques like sleeping under a bed net at night. Sadly, the cost of a bed net is too expensive for the rural and urban poor. Spiritual opposition is palpable. Our partners report being attacked by supernatural issues that can only be explained as an affront to the Gospel going out to reclaim the land, the lost, and the dying. Our friends in Malawi are well acquainted with death. They are exposed to the death of friends and relatives due to HIV. They are exposed to death of loved ones due to acute malaria illness. They are exposed to the spiritual death of their community members as local cults and witch doctors offer empty promises and remedies for life's and society's ailments. I am reminded of Jesus' words, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The bad news of Malawi's data only reports one side of the cosmic story, the death, destruction, and the hopeless perspectives. These are items that belong in the grave. God's Economy's partnership with the friends in Malawi brings the other side of the report: the good news. Somebody Cares: What's the Buzz? Last year God's Economy through its What's the Buzz? malaria prevention outreach donated funds for a team of motivated Malawian youth leaders to become the What's the Buzz? champions throughout the entire SC network. These youth were sent for training at one of our partner organizations, the esteemed medical facility, Partners in Hope. There the youth were trained by medical professionals to: recognize the symptoms of malaria; know how to teach villagers on the proper use of bed-nets; install the nets; and then return to the villages and monitor the homes making sure that the nets were being used correctly. Just last week a report and photos arrived from Malawi.
Proudly wearing their What's the Buzz? tee-shirts when going out into the villages, these youth are evangelizing their communities with a double shot of good news. Not only are they taking bed nets and the public health initiative to the remote villages, but also they are taking the hope of life that comes from being a follower of Jesus. The report states, "During the months of December 2009 and January 2010 the SC Youth Coordinator (Edward) and Community Coordinator (Ramsey) and youth from Kalimbira and Nandzuluwa who were trained in Malaria prevention and control went into community to hang up nets for the widows in Ntandile and Njewa. The youth were very excited at the prospect of going into the community to evangelize whilst hanging nets and educating households in the community on malaria prevention and also to preach the good news of Jesus Christ whilst going about their business. The mosquito nets were part of the Women Orphans and Widows (WOW) program and what better way to get the message across to the widows on Malaria prevention which is hell on earth and entrance into God's Kingdom which would prevent hell in eternity!"
 
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
A second report from SC addresses a new God's Economy project. In the latter months of 2009 donors stepped forward and gave funding for a new feeding center to be constructed through SC. This building is being erected in a place called Kasakula, a subcenter of the Kalimbira District outside the capital city of Lilongwe. Per our partner's request, the funds were wired in late January 2010 since the rains finally had stopped and the construction could commence. When we wire the funds from God's Economy, we do the transmission electronically. Our treasurer enters all of the data and then before hitting the "send" button, he pauses and prays. He asks the Lord to direct the funds to the proper account. More importantly, he releases them to the the Lord Almighty. He asks for the Lord to multiply them and transform them into something bigger than we can ever imagine. "May the recipients be blessed in mighty ways," he asks. It is a holy moment, the redistribution of God's resources here on earth. A recent email reported that the SC staff sent word that the Kasakula feeding center had broken ground. This is a zone that does not have a feeding center, yet dedicated members of the community feed children (orphans) in makeshift centers, under trees, and in run down churches. The faithful of Kasakula know that God has heard their prayers and has answered these petitions through the generosity of SC and their friends (us!). Men are reporting to the job site daily, pick axes, shovels and buckets in hand. There is great rejoicing in the village.
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
 
There is Hope
 
TIH is God's Economy's newest partner. Their work is based in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, where over 10,000 displaced people live. To date, GE funds have been used to procure scriptures for pastors and for a roof for an orphan center in the refugee camp. In late 2009 some God's Economy donors released money to our "general fund" category and these resources were transferred to TIH and used to fund a pastor's conference this past February. Segments from TIH mid-March report are below.
"The conference took place successfully on February 19-20 this year, and the pastors send greetings. The topics of the conference were three: Qualities of a Good Leader, How to Share the Gospel with Muslims, and the Church vis-à-vis HIV/AIDS. 17 Pastors came from across 14 denominations operating within the refugee camp attended the conference. The Pastors received some excellent teaching from professional speakers, as well as additional resources on Islam. They also had a well deserved break from camp life, with good food and refreshments, and a special night of praise and worship. We have reports of one pastor who, putting into practice what he learned about introducing Muslims to Christ, has already seen 10 Muslims accept Jesus since the conference. Thank you so much to those who donate to God's Economy for helping There is Hope to bless and build up those who lead believers at Dzaleka Refugee Camp! Please pass the gratitude and appreciation of the participating pastors onto your supporters."
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
 
St. Gabriel's Hospital
 
Often money is sent to God's Economy and the donor does not hear specifically how the funds were stewarded. How was the end-user of the gift impacted? Quite some time ago, GE friends donated gifts to the ministry in order to purchase an x-ray processor for St. Gabriel's Hospital. A report came from the hospital administrator a month ago. "The Radiographer is full of smiles because the automatic processor has lessened his job, and there are no complaints in terms of delay in processing the films from both the patients and the clinicians. It has really made his life simple."
 
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
 
Truly I believe that these reports lead us to the Easter message. Where death and despair want to claim the hearts, minds, bodies and souls of mankind, Jesus has come that they would have life and have it abundantly. A bed net covering a family in order to protect them from contracting the life threatening disease of malaria, a feeding center where hungry orphans will receive a daily meal, Scripture resources and pastoral training offering the message of salvation in Christ, a piece of equipment to streamline a man's job and increase the efficiency of a health care system, each is a tangible expression of the good news of Christ among us. Herein is life, hope, and purpose that cannot be contained. God's Economy, rejoice in the celebration that the resurrected Christ lives in us, and we have the great privilege of making this Life a daily reality both here and abroad. This is God's economy. Give it away this Easter Season and beyond.
And He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.
For He departed, and behold, He is here.  ~St Augustine *All data may be found at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mi.html
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Merry Christmas

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 |
Posted by admin
Categories: Malawi
This past month I have heard two sermons that have shaped my Advent experience. (Advent is the four week period leading up to Christmas. The Latin translation for "Advent" is "the coming". This is the time of the year when believers in Christ anticipate and remember the coming, the birth of our Lord Jesus). These two messages have blended together causing me to pray about God's Economy and everyone involved with the ministry. The first meaningful sermon that I heard came through Pastor Pat Goodman. Pat had the distinction of launching my home church into the Advent Season. The message was jam packed with teachings, and my primary take away from the message has been several questions that Pat posed to the church body. Pat described the journey of a very pregnant Mary and her husband, Joseph, on their way to Bethlehem. The couple traveled some eighty-five miles to get to Bethlehem and when they arrived they found, "no room in the inn." Ultimately, a spot was found in an annexed room where Mary could labor and deliver her unborn child, the Lord Jesus. Pat pondered these types of questions: This Advent, do you and I have room for the Lord Jesus? Has God been pushed to the fringes of our lives?  Love came down. Do you have room for Jesus in your heart? I heard the second provocative sermon just a few days ago when a good girlfriend gave me a CD that was recorded in early autumn at a local church. The pastor that Sunday was Pastor Mike Donohue. Mike preached two successive Sundays on the topic of "evangelization". His first Sunday message unpacked one of Jesus' core components: compassion. Mike shared with his listeners that Jesus was full of compassion as he saw the human condition and entered into the life experience. Over and over in Scripture, one reads that Jesus "saw and had compassion." The two actions are hand and glove. One must first see in order to then respond from deep within her heart. More importantly, Mike suggested that each of us must stop and ask ourselves: What is it like to be the other person, to live his life, to have his trials, tribulations, joys, sorrows, et cetera.
Do you and I have room for Jesus in our hearts? Do we ever stop to consider what life looks like from someone else's point of view? Do we see and have compassion?
The ministry that each of us has through God's Economy addresses these key questions. By taking our focus off our own personal gratification and sharing our resources with those who have less in life, we are offering Jesus a room in the inn. Come Prince of Peace and reside with us. Change our hearts from the inside out. With Jesus in residence a new set of lenses is placed over our eyes. All of a sudden we see issues like clean drinking water, or bed nets, or feeding orphans, or HIV as we have never seen them before. Instead of these being issues and concerns for "them", "for those people", the Lord has given us His eyes to see so that now these are problems and concerns for us! Jesus saw and had compassion. By serving, sharing, praying, and equipping the friends in Malawi, we are dispensing compassion that will change lives and restore hope to the hopeless. As we give away our resources we become the recipients of the same. We are blessed to be a blessing. You and I have seen and continue to see and are compelled to give away the abundant blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus. This is the good news of the gospel. Emmanuel, God with us, in us, through us and going beyond us to teach us how to care.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
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Thanksgiving Message

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 |
Posted by admin
Categories: Malawi
We have arrived at that time of the year when all across America people will pause to celebrate Thanksgiving. This provides me with the opportunity to reflect on the many, many things within the ministry of God's Economy for which I am grateful. After all, isn't "thanks-giving" exactly that, stopping to offer thanks? I recently wrote to a new friend of God's Economy, "The most important aspect of doing this work is the understanding that each of us is part of God's Economy. It is not my objective to build a big organization. I want only to be used as a vehicle that inspires others to take their God-given resources (time, talent, and treasures) and use them for the greater good of humanity." God's Economy is an amalgamation of friends from the United States and Africa who want to make the world a better place to live; who want to dispense God's love, mercy, and grace across continents. It is a movement of friends who know that they are blessed with limitless gifts and feel compelled to redistribute the blessings. For this wave of generosity and stewardship, I offer thanks. Prayer warriors, donors, volunteers, Board members, editors, mentors, family cheer-leaders, friends, you know who you are. Your faithful service to God's Economy has meant that the ministry has been effective in its mission to serve as a conduit through which resources flow from those who have excess to those who have need. Each one of you has forged a trail of God's favor from your heart to Africa. YOU are God's Economy. You live out the principles of "blessed to be a blessing". I never cease to be amazed by your gifts to the people of Africa: your faithful prayers, your finances, and your time in volunteerism. For the groundswell of participants in God's Economy, I give thanks. In his address to the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2008, Ward Brehm, an unyielding advocate for Africa's poor, said, "I will forever be indebted to Africa for it awakened me when I did not know that I was asleep." One paragraph cannot begin to capture the depth of gratitude that I have for our partners in Africa. Each partnership is founded upon the notion that we are the Body of Christ, and we bear one another's burdens and celebrate one another's joys. The partners in Africa have awakened me (us) and shown how to live out the gospel in all of its fullness: radical worship, radical faith, and radical living in spite of every adverse condition imaginable. The God's Economy friends in the United States have been the recipients of abundant treasures from you. For old partners and new, I give thanks. God's Economy Investors, take a moment to ponder this. Because of your offerings to the Lord through this ministry the following has occurred: well over a thousand mosquito nets have been distributed to Malawian families and to a rural hospital. A feeding center daily provides a meal and an early childhood education program to over one hundred children. Fresh water wells provide a potable water source in rural villages. Hundreds upon hundreds of blankets are keeping children and adults warm on chilly African winter nights. Home based care workers now use bicycles as their primary means of transportation on their patient visits. Micro-development groups are launched and functional. Community gardens feed families nutritional vegetables. Roofing is now installed on an orphan's day center providing shelter and protection for the children during the Malawian heat and rain. Modern hospital equipment is in daily use making the hospital's health care delivery more efficient and modernized. Bibles, written and audio, are in the hands of rural pastors and youth vulnerable to HIV. Our partners are receiving  finances to assist in staff salaries so that the workers in the field can carry on their meaningful work...This is only a portion of what God has enabled us to do in 2009. Can you imagine that God loves us so much that He would give each of us the opportunity to co-labor in this work? For all of this and so much more, I give thanks. Happy Thanksgiving from God's Economy, Cricket ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Give thanks with a grateful heart Give thanks to the Holy One Give thanks for He has given Jesus Christ His son. (repeat) And now let the weak say, "I am strong" Let the poor say, "I am rich" Because of what the Lord has done for us Give thanks. Give Thanks lyrics © Integrity's Hosanna Music
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Critically Ill

Monday, September 28, 2009 |
Posted by admin
Categories: Malawi
Namitete, Malawi 2008 The young mother keeps her bedside vigil. The matron of the hospital gently approaches the large crib. Matron explains to the mother that the visitor is a photographer who runs a ministry in America. The ministry has launched a project in American where teens are raising money for mosquito nets. It is a malaria prevention project. The visitor is taking pictures to increase awareness about the deleterious effects of the disease.   The woman nodded her approval and looked directly at the camera. Not a word was spoken. For only a moment or two did she take her eyes off the object of her attention. Her son, so sick and fighting for his life, lay motionless on his crib.   Diagnosis: Malaria.   Approximately 40% of the world's population (mostly those living in the world’s poorest countries) are at risk for malaria. Malaria causes more than 300 million acute illnesses and at least one million deaths annually. 90% of deaths due to malaria occur in Africa south of the Sahara mostly among young children. Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds. Many children who survive may have brain damage or be physically impaired.   What you now see is something that transcends the statistics and the data. These are the faces of malaria. It is the horror and the desperation in the mother’s look. It is the high fever making the child comatose. We get the picture.
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The Fortunate Ones

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 |
Posted by admin
Categories: AIDS, Malawi, Orphans
Lilongwe, Malawi 2008 These children are the fortunate ones. They are part of a group who attend a feeding center outside one of the slum areas in Lilongwe, Malawi. Daily they receive their bowls of porridge and get to participate in the early childhood education program at the center. This particular bunch of kids is fortunate in other ways, too. These children are part of a select few who have been chosen from the masses to receive life saving anti-retroviral (ARV) medicine. Each of these children is infected with the life- threatening virus, HIV. Babies infected with HIV often have accelerated disease progression. Without treatment the HIV+ child can become seriously ill and face a high risk of dying in the first few years of life.  Given the anti-retroviral drugs and appropriate treatment, these children have the potential to live normal and relatively healthy lives.  A bowl of porridge, ABC’s, and ARV’s, this group has been given a fighting chance.
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