FAST FACTS - Malawi     FAST FACTS - Zambia      


August 5 - 13, 2011






Mike & I flew to Washington DC, where we met up with Dusty & Barbara Miller who came with us on the trip.






Our first stop was Lusaka, Zambia, where we were met by the Senior Pastor for Zambia, Dr. Nyumbu.

In the picture above, Mike, Dr. Nyumbu, Dusty & Barbara are standing on a map of Zambia. Each person is standing where there is a GCI congregation. (Mike's spread-apart feet
represent two churches. The red X that Mike is pointing to is Lusaka, the capital city, where we have four churches. We held a Vacation Bible School (VBS) in three of these churches.



The bar (pub) that became a church.

Pastor Chris Kalaba of the Chawama church was walking past a bar (pub) one day and some men made comments to him. He decided to claim the bar for Jesus and he and his congregation started praying about it. Soon after, he saw a "For Sale" sign on the building and the church was able to purchase it. This building is in a densly populated area and there is 70% unemployment, but the church is growing rapidly.


Bring-a-block Sunday

They hope to replace this building with one large enough for 300 people, so each month they have a "Bring a block" Sunday where people can bring a block to church as an offering. They stack the blocks up in their small side room which they use as a kitchen.

Our goal was to teach the children what the gospel message is and give them a way to remember it and tell their friends. We did this through songs, crafts, skits, stories and words with actions.



On the stage with me is Gift, who translated everything into Nanja. We are teaching some of the children actions for the words:


"Jesus is God.

He came from Heaven to earth.

He lived a perfect life.

He died on the cross to pay for our sins.

He was buried and rose from the dead,

and He is in heaven now

offering us the free gift of eternal life."



 The second morning when we arrived, the children were all outside practicing their new songs, and children in the neighborhood were gathering to watch.

? If you're black, or if you're white,

or if you're in between

God loves you

If you're tall, or if you're small,

or if you're fat or lean

God loves you.

He loves you when you're happy

He loves you when you're sad.

He loves you when you're very good

and when you're very bad.

No matter what you look like

No matter what you do

God loves you.


God loves you ?


 The children wanted to touch Mike's hair.



Each day we provided lunch for the children. (In Zambia they eat with their hands.) The food shown here is rice, nshima (a cooked corn meal paste), beans and stew.



Our V.B.S. group at Chawama

Our GCI church in Chongwe meets in the auditorium of a private school owned by a member.

Snack time - a peanut butter or jam sandwich.

Mike & Janet talk with the kids.

Each day the children who came on time were entered in a raffle to win a small prize. Barbara passes out the prizes. Dusty is sitting watching.


The Chongwe VBS group


Our Central Lusaka congregation meets in a tent on a plot of land they bought. The Pastor lives in the small concrete block house beside the tent. The blocks of concrete on the right are

being collected for their new building.



Chaotic but fun!


We taught the kids the song "Making Melodies" that we learned on our Bahamas mission trip. It is a great opening song that helps them have fun.

?? Making melodies in my heart.......... to the King of Kings.

 Thumbs up, Elbows out, feet apart, knees bent, head back,

 tongue out, turn around....??



 The gospel on a spiral


The shapes they put in the spirals show the plan of salvation:

Gift shape = Heaven is a free gift. It is not something you work for or deserve. What keeps us from getting this gift?

Man shape = Man is a sinner and cannot save himself. There must be a different way - God's way.

Heart shape = God loves us and wants us to be in heaven with Him... but we sin and do not deserve heaven. God solved this problem by sending Jesus.

Cross shape = Jesus is God. He came from heaven to earth. He lived a perfect life. He died on the cross to pay for our sins. He was buried and rose from the dead and is in heaven now offering us the free gift of eternal life. How do we get this gift of eternal life? By faith.

Life preserver shape = Saving faith is not just knowing about God in your head. Saving faith is not just temporary. Saving faith is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. If we trust Jesus how will we live?

Foot shape = We walk with Jesus by reading our Bible, praying, worshiping God by how we live our life, going to church and fellowshiping with other Christians and by telling others about Jesus.

A card hangs on the bottom that has the above explanation of the shapes, and on the back it is in their local dialect. They can take this home and share Jesus with their family and friends.


 The gospel with balloons. 



The younger children needed a simpler gospel message: We made balloon animals and told them about creation, Jesus, etc and told them one day they will be kings and priests in heaven. Then we gave them balloon crowns.






Jesus vs Satan

This is a skit we had the boy help us with. He is standing on two chairs - one foot on each. One represents Jesus, the other represents Satan. The Satan chair - mine - keeps moving away and he has to make a choice to move to only one chair, or he will fall. Choose Jesus or Satan. It also teaches that rather than trusting what they do - that they are good enough to have eternal life - they should trust what Jesus did for them. On our own we are all sinners but Jesus died that all our sins can be forgiven. Trusting that what he did for us on the cross - paying for all past, present and future sins - takes a huge burden of guilt off of us and gives us confidence to know that we already have eternal life.

Who wants to trust Jesus with their life?

The Central Lusaka (and Lilanda) V.B.S. group.




The Zambia church owns a piece of undeveloped land where they hope to one day have a conference center. They can have their annual conference and youth camp there, and also rent it out as a source of income. When we visited, they were preparing to have their annual church conference.



Each family attending had paid the equivalent of US $10 to

have a little grass hut made that they could sleep in.




It was interesting to see how these grass huts were made.

The caretaker showed us how he made a hole in the ground

for the pieces of wood.



Here is the framework for a hut.



The tall dried grass is tied on with strips of bark.



This still needs a roof and a door. It's probably about 10ft x 10ft.



They built some shade for cooking. A space for each of the

four churches.



The ladies raised funds to put in a water pump. Until this

year they had to haul barrels of water from town each day.  

In the background is a caretakers house. The chief who they

bought / leased the land from requires a caretaker to be on

the premises.



 This is a shower room




You stand on the branches and use a small bucket to pour

water over yourself.  That way you don't end up standing in

muddy water.



This is a toilet. Stand on the top / sides and squat. 



The caretaker's two-room house.



The caretaker's kitchen.



 Inside the kitchen.




This is Nsama Kaoma wife of GCI Africa's Mission

Developer Kalengule Kaoma. Nsama is the one who

encouraged us to go to Zambia. Pictured behind her are

her four children. (Mwila, the youngest, whom she

mentions below, is wearing green.) Nsama said:


"Your trip and the VBS lessons has been such an

inspiration to our children's ministry. It re-inspired our

pastors and childrens church teachers and gave a

renewed zeal to ministering to our children. The kids

are still talking about it and singing the songs. Just

this afternoon Mwila was singing the songs for Kalengule

as we picked her up from school."


August 13 - 21, 2011

From Lusaka, Zambia, we flew to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.

In Malawi, we held Vacation Bible Schools for five churches at three locations.

The first night we got together with Pastor Nkosi (shown left to right), Pastor Mcdonald Mgunda from Bunda church, Pastor Lokona Bolikoko from Dzaleka church and Deacon Christopher Chakana from Kabanga church who would be working with us. Pastor Nkosi is the one who encouraged us to go to Malawi.


We went through lessons, skits, stories, crafts and songs and by the end of the evening they were having so much fun that they decided they would go as a team to every location with us so that they could learn it and take it to their other churches.


The first church we visited was in a rural area near Bunda Hill.

Here is a typical view along the way. Men carrying firewood and charcoal to market on their bikes. Unemployment is high.

Our first VBS in Malawi was at Bunda. This is a one-room building.

The ladies at Bunda church welcomed us with song and dance.

Men, women and children all stayed for the VBS lessons.

Pastor Magunda is on the right



Prayness holds up the spiral gospel craft she made.

She came for a slice of bread.

More people came than we expected so we ended up passing out slices of bread. Bread was special for them.

Before we left they presented us with a bag of ground nuts (peanuts). This is a traditional gift for visitors.



The Bunda (and Lilongwe) VBS group.

The 20 year old truck.

This truck was donated to the church 10 years ago and at the time it was already 10 years old. We spent $200 doing repairs on it and it still needed to be push started. Here the children from the Lilongwe church are being taken home.


This is what caused the riots.

Malawi had a gas shortage. According to Wikipedia, the Prime Minister bought a private jet a year or two ago, and they have had a shortage of gas due to lack of foreign exchange. The month before we came, there was a riot where people were protesting against the government and the Police shot quite a few people. While we were in Malawi another protest was scheduled for the day we were going to Kabanga. Many were concerned because of the violence that might take place. and they prayed we would not have to cancel the VBS. However the protesting was postponed a month, so we were able to have our VBS as scheduled. 

At one gas station we passed, there were about 50 cars lined up (see photo above). Many gas stations didn't have any gas.

The road to Kabanga - another rural church.

The children sang as we arrived.

The tribal chief Kabanga donated land to GCI to be used to build a church. He wanted it to be the best building in the community. The church then leased land and grew corn to raise money to buy more land.

The corn is now stored in the church.

In Malawi the soil is good for making bricks so the church made bricks and baked them in a kiln on the church property.

With the corn, they raised enough money to buy more land and build classrooms and a library.



Mike & Janet with Chief Kabanga

Village children looking in the windows.

At the end of the day, Pastor Ngwira had fun shaking the raffle bag before drawing names out of it. The classroom was crowded and village children were standing at the door and window looking in.

On the second day Chief Kabanga's older brother - also named Chief Kabanga - visited. He is the area chief over several villages.





Chief Kabanga had seen me make balloon hats for the children and asked for one for himself.


Many children from the village came to see what was happening and they also came for bread. Here they are sitting in a line waiting to be given two slices of bread. They usually eat nsima (a thick cornmeal paste) so to have bread is a treat.


When it was time for us to go, the ladies sang and danced.


The children sang and danced

Pastor Nkosi made a speech

Mike was given a chicken.

Barbara was given some beans.

Dusty was given ground nuts (peanuts) and eggs.

Chief Kabanga told us how honored he was to have people visit from so far away, and Pastor Nkosi interpeted. (They killed a goat to eat in our honor.)

We passed out the children's crafts along with a "goody bag" to all those who had particpated.

Then we gave candy and made balloon hats for another 92 children from the village who had arrived.

Five children and three adults from the church in the northern city of Mzuzu had come down to join us at the Kabanga VBS but because of the anticipated protests over the Government, they had come a day late. They were invited back to Pastor Nkosi's house for the night so they could get an extra day of VBS at our next location. They piled in the back of the pickup truck for the one hour bumpy, dusty and cold ride back to Lilongwe.

Fried eggs for breakfast is a treat

For the Mzuzu children it was a treat to have this long (5 hour) trip from their village to the capital city (Lilongwe). We invited them to breakfast at our lodge and Pastor Nkosi said we should ask for fried eggs rather than boiled for breakfast as many of them could not afford oil to fry eggs, so it would be special for them. 



The next morning we all headed for Dzaleka refugee camp. The children had been waiting for us to arrive and hurried out to greet us. They meet for church in the classrooms shown in this picture. 

Once again there was more singing and dancing.



V.B.S. for adults and children. 

Because they have refugee status they cannot leave the camp to get jobs.  So the adults stayed to learn with the children.


For more about Dzaleka refugee camp scroll to the bottom of the page.



We also traveled to Blantyre and visited the church there. The church owns a school which they use as their main source of income to support all the GCI churches in Malawi.


These are the members in Bantyre and a few visitors from some of the surrounding congregations. 




Dzaleka camp is located in the coldest and most isolated part of the country. There are approximately 10,000 refugees residing in the camp from the war torn zone of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia. However the camp itself is only meant to accommodate 4,000 people. It used to be a prison for political prisoners of the former dictator president of Malawi. The heavy cold was believed to be a severe punishment for his opponents.

Malawi accepted and is willingly hosting refugees. However, it struggles to accommodate their needs while keeping the Malawian citizens happy. As a poor nation, Malawi is politically and economically limited in the freedoms it “feels” it can allow refugees.



A typical dwelling is made of primitive mud bricks with a roof made of grass. The grass is well packed together in hopes that when it rains the water will not penetrate. However, due to the windy weather, the grass is blown off the house leaving spaces for the rain to pass through. So, when it rains everything and everybody in the house is drenched, creating almost nowhere to escape the cold.


The UNHCR provides:

13.5kg  of maize per person monthly
1.5kg of beans per person monthly
750ml of cooking oil per person monthly
 Quarter of salt per person monthly.


Fresh vegetables can usually only be obtained by trading some rations to local Malawians. As the rations are already insufficient to feed a family for whole month, trading rations for vegetables means an additional sacrifice to the diet. Accordingly, during the last week of the month, before new rations can be received, only one or two meals can be eaten per day. This is an especially difficult hardship for growing children.
Refugees wander around the nearby villages to trade some of their food to the natives for wild meats and clothes.













This is the cooking area inside their home.




The Pastor, Jafari Nunda Samaca, has 11 children. He is being resettled in Brisbane, Australia, in November 2011. Very few people actually get sent overseas. Most stay in the camp for years.
Refugees in Dzaleka have three options: Repatriation (should war end, refugees have to return to their countries with financial help to rebuild), integration (should war last longer, refugees are to be integrated into the local population and granted land and citizenship), and resettlement (this is a relocation to Western countries where they are granted opportunities to study, work and start a new life). With wars never ending and integration becoming difficult to achieve, resettlement remains the only solution, yet only one percent of the 25 million refugees worldwide has a realistic chance to achieve this. Many refugees end up trapped in camps in extreme poverty with no hope for the future.


Grace Communion International Church started in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in November 2007 with 30 people from 5 families. It has grown to 199 people from 35 families.


A lot of the above information about the camp is quoted from a source I found on the internet:


UPDATE January 29, 2012

January 29 saw the commencement of a new congregation of Congolese members in Goodna, a suburb of Ipswich near Brisbane, Australia. In December, the Nunda family arrived as part of a refugee resettlement program from a camp in Malawi, along with the Lukonga family from a camp in Tanzania. With 24 adults and children in both families, it was difficult to arrange transport for the whole group to attend our congregations in Brisbane.


After searching around the Goodna area, we approached a pastor of a Samoan congregation if we could use their church building. He very kindly allowed us to use it on a Sunday afternoon. So this past Sunday, both families were joined by another Congolese couple who had arrived 5 years ago, and Alex provided the translation for the service. A number of members from our Ipswich and Carina congregations, along with the Samoan pastor and a few members from his church also attended.


Jafari Nunda, who had pastored the congregation in the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi, led the service in Swahili (which must be a first for GCI in Australia!) The service followed the format which they were accustomed to, and their own songs. Following the service, the Samoan pastor’s wife provided refreshments for the whole group.


As there is a growing number of Africans being settled in this area, we hope and pray that this will be the beginning of a thriving church community.