What mighty works God had done in the 1st week (4 days) of ministry. Already, the team was on pace to exceed anything they’d done together the previous year.Monday morning found the men still concerned over the lost “yellow card.” Harrison would not be allowed entrance into Tanzania without some finagling and likely a fair measure of money shoved under the table. If the card could not be found, options had to be explored. But with an early morning phone call came the good news that Harrison’s immunization card had been found. So were the other items the team had forgotten in their rush to leave Zambia. Their Zambian host agreed to bring the goods to Lilongwe later in the day. Hallelujah! As a benefit, the men decided to delay their departure for Mzuzu by 1 day while awaiting the arrival of the goods. It was already time to take advantage of some much-needed rest.
Tuesday, the team of 3 travelled from Lilongwe to Mzuzu by bus. After spotting a seat where he could stick is nose through a small opening in the window, Michael took a Xanax for his claustrophobia and for the most part, slept well through the journey. This came in spite of the rather large lady sitting in the seat in front of him who insisted on spending the day in a semi-reclined position, resting squarely on Michael’s knees. But hey, a well-timed Xanax can work wonders.
Wednesday was the kind of day the team prayed to experience—and yet greatly feared. They were scheduled to preach an open air meeting at the Mzuzu Prison, beginning at 9:00 am. But as is often the case, ongoing delays meant things didn’t get going until about 10:30 am, putting the events of the day behind schedule.
Once in the yard behind locked gates and plenty of rusted barbed wire, Michael brought the message to a little more than 500 men and a handful of women. When the time for the invitation came, about 210 souls advanced to the front of the prison yard to receive Jesus Christ—almost half the prison’s population! After the men returned to their places, those in need of healing were invited to come forward; about 70 in all. The team began praying for the sick at both ends of the lengthy line and in the middle. The 3rd person Michael prayed for was a lame man paralyzed in his left leg, which got around by means of a crude stick. He was obviously lame to all who knew him; including the minister who hosted the event. After a short prayer, Michael told the man to walk in front of the prayer line, which he did. Then he repeated his victory walk a 2nd and a 3rd time. After the 1sttrek, Michael took the stick and threw it to the side; the man never needed it again. (The stick is now a souvenir that will make its way back to the United States as a future reminder of what God is willing to do.) The man was last seen making his way to the back of the prison yard unaided.
Much time had been lost while waiting for the prison service to finish, so when concluded, the team returned to the house, ate, packed, and hit the road with all manner of haste. They were due to minister that night in Kyela, Tanzania. Road block after road block, along with a host of miscellaneous other stops, found the threesome at the borders of Malawi and Tanzania with only minutes to spare before the immigration offices shut down for the night. Like the 3 musketeers (or perhaps more like the 3 stooges at times), they eventually made their way across the Malawian border and along a quarter-mile stretch to the gate and border office for Tanzania, only to see from a distance the office being locked for the night. As the 3 quickened their pace, the official looked back to see them running toward him. Likely from pity, he graciously reopened his office and subsequently authorized their passports. The proverbial “close shave” gets no closer than that. (Just think, had the team prayed as much as 2 minutes for a single additional prisoner earlier in the day that small delay would have resulted in missing the immigration official and the men would have been forced to stay up all night in the heart of “no man’s land” between 2 countries. Also, as a result of their delay at the Mzuzu Prison, it was too late to hold the scheduled church meeting. (Tanzania is in a time zone ahead of that of Malawi, so the hour was later than expected.) So instead, the team nestled in for the night at a nice out-of-the-way hotel.
Thursday was the only day the team could minister in the Freewill Pentecostal Church of Tanzania in Kyela. The threesome arrived at 10:30 am to teach a conference consisting of about 15 pastors and wives. The subject was healing; how it was done in biblical times and how today’s believers should expect to do the same healing works. Following the seminar, the team prayed for every individual, with the Spirit moving mightily in prophetic utterance. The most detailed of information came forth, some to admonish but all to exhort and encourage. Information about family members and situations, conditions in churches including information about specific church members, personal desires and needs, fears, and so much more, was brought to light during the time of ministry. Tear stains spotted the church floor. Everyone was clearly moved.
Following a short rest, the evening service began with about 70 persons in attendance. Harrison brought the message. When he was finished, Michael asked how many persons were in need of healing. Somewhere over 40 hands were raised. Michael then told everyone with a headache to stand. A healthy number rose to their feet. Then a prayer was offered; healing was commanded in the name of Jesus Christ; and everyone that was healed was told to sit down. Everyone sat down. Michael turned to his translator and said, “I meant only those who were healed should sit down.” His interpreter responded, “You misunderstand, they were all healed.” Likely with an expression of surprise on his face, Michael next said, “Everyone with a neck and back ache, stand to your feet.” Again, many in the room rose from their seats. “In the name of Jesus be healed. Receive your healing” went forth the words. One-by-one, every person was queried as to their healing and again, all stated individually, they’d been healed. “Everyone with pain in your knees, rise” rang out the command. “In the name of Jesus . . . .” Every soul with that particular dilemma, again speaking to each person individually and after marching in place to prove their healing, declared their cure. Next went out prayer for stomach problems, and with similar results. Finally, everyone who had some unspoken affliction was told to raise their hands toward heaven and praise God for their restoration. Moments later, each testified of their healing. Happy then saw a vision of shoulder pains in someone, to which 3 women came forward and all were healed. What was witnessed among so many was nothing short of phenomenal. The church sent the missionaries off with great joy and the bishop (of 102 churches) declared his church to be the missionaries’ church. The team was then invited to return next year for a city-wide healing crusade for the city’s 50,000 inhabitants. The bishop agreed to set up everything in advance of the team’s return.
The 3 men went home exhausted but completely satisfied over the events of the day. “Could it get any better than this?” wondered Michael.
It was Friday and time to head for Chilumba, Malawi. Happy hunted for a taxi at the border; someone willing to charge African—not American—prices. Truly, you get what you pay for in lawnmowers, refrigerators . . . and taxis. For the next 2 hours, the driver would build up his speed, shift to neutral, and then kill the cab engine and coast; all in effort to save gas. The only thing more annoying occurred at the 4th police stop where the “rich Americans” had to bribe a police woman who searched the vehicle until she discovered a nearly depleted fire extinguisher—apparently a good enough reason to demand a ransom of 1,000 kwacha (about $3.50 USD). Okay. Grin and bear it, and hopefully without an attitude. The only thing that made that trip worthwhile was the short stopover at Happy’s mother-in-law’s house where his niece prayed to receive Jesus Christ. That should make anyone’s day.
Once settled into the small but cozy rent house just off Lake Malawi, the 3 men rested in preparation for the evening service which would begin a 3 day revival and 2 nights of open air evangelism in the sleepy little community of Chilumba.
In the evening, Happy brought the message to the congregation at Champions in Christ Church. Unlike the 1st night the year before in which only a handful were present, this time the church was almost packed. Throughout songs of praise, bats performed acrobatic maneuvers, back and forth, just over the dimly lit heads that seemed to fade into the darkness and beyond. With music concluded, Happy positioned himself beneath the single light at the front of the church and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When finished, a number of souls came forward to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit; (a Pentecostal doctrine and practice). When it was his turn, Michael asked for a show of hands of those in need of healing. Approximately 35 shoved their hands heavenward. This time, it seemed right to pray for the sick in a different manner; something that ultimately answered a growing question in Michael’s mind. (Because everyone thus far during the mission trip declared themselves healed when prayed for, Michael had begun to wonder if the people were always sincere. Healings seemed to come almost effortlessly. How could he know for certain all were real?) He first began to pray for a group of women in a forward section to his right as a half-dozen or more stood in need of prayer. Immediately after the women sat down, confusion began. Someone asked in the native tongue if Michael had finished praying for the sick, to which Happy declared “Yes, he prayed for everyone,” when in truth he had not. This caused a man in the back to begin shouting “I didn’t receive my healing,” which in turn prompted a number of people near him to begin to move forward for prayer at the altar—something of a stampede but in slow motion. When Michael saw the commotion, he motioned for everyone to return to their seat. He then moved throughout the congregation touching bodies and declaring healings. In the end, only 6 persons did not receive healing through the spoken word or by touch of hand. The 6 then went forward for healing prayer; all of which were healed as Harrison and Happy prayed for them. (Logically, if the people were faking their healings—for whatever reason—there would not have been a forward thrust to head to the altar for healing prayer.) Africans seem to take their healing seriously; at least those encountered thus far. Michael’s question had been addressed in a rather convincing manner. He now knew he must resist musings that had the potential of turning into doubt.
It was Saturday morning when the church gathered once again; this time to participate in the healing seminar. The goal was to teach the visiting pastors, and members of the church in Chilumba, why and how to pray for the sick. The event lasted until after 4:30 pm with only a 1 hour and 30 minute lunch break. Following the time of training came a time for praying for the pastors and then the congregation that they might walk powerfully in the gifts of healings. Among the leaders, God spoke a number of power prophetic revelations that dealt with a number of very specific matters in the lives of numerous ministers. Many of the words were so direct that it was as though they had been read directly from the pages of the individuals’ journals. Only the Spirit of God can flow in such a powerful way.
In the evening, the focus changed to street evangelism. The church set up its PA equipment on the steps of the now defunct bar that once jettisoned its noisy tunes during the prior year’s visit. Harrison brought the message. Nine people were thought to have come to Christ with 2 others receiving verified healings. Although he left before the meeting was finished, Michael found himself somewhat disturbed to find none of the church members present knew how to approach the many lost spectators sitting nearby. Learning how to reach the unsaved definitely needed to be on someone’s agenda—and soon.
Sunday morning was Michael’s time to minister in church. Following the message, 2 men came forward to receive Christ. Afterward, those in need of healing were invited to come to the front; 2 men and a mother with her ailing child responded. Along with the 3, Michael included himself, having suffered from a bout with a kidney stone the night before. It was time for the men and women to put what they’d learned about healing over the weekend into practice. Several came forward to pray for those needing to be. Next, Happy called several people forward he’d seen in a series of visions; some for healing and some for other matters. After sharing detailed revelations about their lives, Michael prophesied additional—and different—details as the Spirit continued to flow among His children. As an added blessing, Harrison was able to capture many of the events on video. Finally, there’s some proof for folks back home.
Following lunch, Happy ministered an afternoon session while Michael and Harrison took some much-needed rest. Several people received detailed prophetic words regarding healing and more. Revelation flowed from God-given visions just as they did in the earliest days of the church.
In the evening, Harrison again preached an evangelistic service on the only paved street in Chilumba. Most of the people were clearly tired from the weekend and many who’d come to see the missionaries had already left town for home. While no one came to Christ, the Gospel was preached and the team had done all they could for the small community; at least for this trip.