Gospel bears fruit in hard-to-reach places
By Lee Forland | Malawi in Southern Africa
Handmade bricks stacked ready for a new Yao church building. Photo by SIM Malawi.
The gospel is spreading among the Yao, a largely unreached people group in rural eastern Malawi. SIM writer Lee Forland joined a team visiting two churches in the area. Here, he shares the joy of seeing how the good news is bearing fruit in these hard-to-reach places.
A sturdy, four-wheel drive truck carried us down a dirt road, at times very narrow, that twisted and turned – more like a bike track than a road for automobiles. We were headed to a rural Yao church. Open fields stretched off into the distance to be met by far-away mountains – a picturesque backdrop to a silent landscape.
Finally arriving at our destination, church members recognised our vehicle and were waiting with big smiles. Little did we know the smiles were soon to be even greater.
We had been invited to attend a study of the Gospel of Mark, learning that Jesus was once tempted like us while in the wilderness, and that we can look to the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation. Suddenly, during the meeting, our hearts leapt as two women stepped forward to invite Christ into their lives, right there and then.
Despite their church building being destroyed last March by Cyclone Freddy, this congregation’s hunger for Jesus and their real desire to know His word better remains wonderfully strong.
Their current, temporary church structure – made by hand from tree branches, straw, and thatch – is not expected to survive the next rainy season. Undeterred, though, the dedicated church members have taken it upon themselves to make bricks to build a permanent one.
At the second church we visited – a small, brick building in an open, grassy field on the other side of the mountains – we, again, participated in a Bible study. With the congregation sitting on a hard floor, we learned how Jesus had healed a man of leprosy to demonstrate His love for us and show us that He was indeed God. Then, during the Sunday worship, amid smiles, dancing and songs of praise, we discovered together the importance of overcoming fear and putting faith in God when called to move forward into new circumstances.
Reflecting on the time with the Yao, SIM mission worker James Bruce said, “Life is hard in the villages, but the people are not robbed of their joy. They may live in material poverty as we know it, but the Spirit of the Lord is still upon them. These are folks whose hearts have changed as a result of knowing Jesus.”
Since returning from this trip, we have learned that, each week, many more are continuing to come to Christ and are being baptised.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. [Matthew 16:18]
•That God would continue to make ways for mission workers to share the gospel and bring more Yao to faith in Jesus
•That God would raise up more Yao leaders in these churches
•That Yao believers would be compelled to share the love of Jesus and the gospel with their friends and neighbours