Read about Janet's previous visits to Malawi...
Jesus often spoke to the crowds on earth but often it was to the one person he went and helped. This is encouraging as so often we are led to the individual and see God's hand reaching out to a specific need.
We were on our way to visit a sick man but just before we got to a certain village the motor stopped and wouldn’t go. We tried and tried and no go! Lapson phoned and got some one to come out to us about 24 km. Just as we were waiting a blind man came down the centre of the road toward us. We greeted him and found as he hadn’t eaten for a number of days he was on his way walking 25 km to an orphanage to see if they could give him help. We were able to assist him and there and then he turned round and said joyfully he was going home and was going to enjoy his meal as God had met him on the road and provided for him. He was just amazing to see! Before he left we asked him to pray for us and the problem with the motor - he was very moving the way he prayed. Then off he went back down the road with a spring in his step as he had seen his God at work on his behalf. We got back in the motor and yes, turned the key and the motor started! Wow! Hallelujah! We believe the motor stopped just where it did before the turning of the village so that man could come out and find us. Amazing is our God! and we too went back home with great joy as we too had seen the hand of God at work. He was amazed when we saw him a couple of weeks later that God had used him to bless us!
The next day we were delayed going out and so as always we go in circles in Malawi - not straight lines as in UK. Again we were travelling along and just as we were passing a certain village there was a blind lady coming out from the turning - again she had not eaten for a few days and she was off to a market walking 15km to see if anyone would help her. God's timing is perfect and what we thought was a delay in leaving was His plan so we would meet this dear blind sister. She was jubilant and praised Jesus her King there on the road side getting down and lifting her hands in praise to the Lord! It brings a lump to the throat to see such faith and gratitude to the Lord.
Our dear blind brother Mr Namizinga sent us a message to say he had lost his possessions in a fire and he was left with nothing. We wanted to help him but didnt know exactly where he lived although we knew the village. We were on our way back from viisitng a group of blind people and as we were passing a junction of the road who do you think was coming out to the main road but our dear brother Mr Namizinga. WOW! Perfect timing is our God. Mr Namaizinga was on his way to collect some maize and had walked many km to be where he was just as we were passing. He was overjoyed and marvelled at God's plan for helping him. We too were encouraged once more to be found at the right place at the right time. Even a minute before we wouldnt have seen this man. Praise God that His timing is perfect!
NB - Please request permission from Janet Stafford before reproducing in any form whether electronically, posting on a website or reproducing in a publication.
Lapson Mbewe has just returned from a 10 day visit to Mozambique accompanied by 4 elders from his Church.
“I am very glad for the breakthrough there has been by the Lord in Mozambique. It was a successful trip and we saw God blessing many lives. Praise His Name. Surely this has been as a result of the prayer support many of you in UK have given. Before I go further let me thank you so much for giving your time to pray for us, and the work of God.
Honestly writing we what I saw in Mozambique was the presence of the Lord.
As per my report to you our trip was a combined trip in which I was visiting the church branches in Mozambique and in the same time visiting the blind folks as we encourage them to meet together where possible.
We started off our journey from Malawi to Mozambique Friday the 19th of May, drove for 8 hours to Muloza border post where we slept for a night. We started off again the next morning and we arrived at the first venue at around 3:30pm after driving for 9 hours. We found people waiting for us and we were so challenged with some of the pastors and leaders who had walked to the venue for three days. This was so moving and it really demonstrated that people in Mozambique have a deep hunger for the words of the Lord. We had a large gathering at this meeting and many responded to the teaching of God's Word and the Gospel message.
At Postalshire we had a special time of ministry with the blind people (6 men and 4 women and 2 boys). A total of 12 blind people came to this meeting and were given blankets, a packet of sugar and soap and some money for food at home .The meeting was from 20th to 22nd May.
On the same 22nd May late in the afternoon we left Postalshire for Nanjiri. This took us 5 hours driving further south in Mozambique. At round 19.00 hours we arrived at Nanjiri . A large crowd of brothers and sisters gathered at this venue. We had a nice and blessed time at this place. People sung to their Lord all night long.
Over 450 people attended this meeting. It was really so encouraging to see that a lot of people who were present at this meeting were very poor people and the area is one of the areas which has been affected with the just-ended floods so that a lot of them are living in great hardships. Nevertheless they were able to thank God for the life they have and that he is able to look after them through some problems. Present at this meeting was an elderly widow who had her grandson with her. He had no shirt on and during that night it was so cold. The young boy who is about 4 years old lost both parents and the widow is very poor. I really felt bad in my heart and at the same time I felt that I should give to this woman some money so that she should buy clothes for herself, the young boy and some food.
|ORPHAN BOY WHO HAD NO CLOTHES SAVE WHAT HE WAS WEARING||
THESE CHLDREN WERE ALL VERY HAPPY WITH THEIR SOFT TOYS
Soon after I gave the money to the widow I saw that there was a great change in her singing. She was so happy and am sure that this woman went home believing the Lord as her provider. Hallelujah!
We left Nanjiri for Tchetcha about 400km further south. At this place we had a meeting all throughout the night and we left the place at around 8:45am after ministering to over 375 people. Some financial help was given to a few very old ladies and men and some blind people, who had walked for long distances to the meeting.
After Tchetcha we proceeded to Murambara where the journey proved to be so hot. Murambara is a district headquarters for the province and many blind live in this town. After our prayer meeting we went into town with our dear Mozambiquean Pastor where we had a meeting with the blind people. The blind people were each given a packet of sugar, a blanket and some money to buy food. I was stopped from taking photos at the meeting with the blind people in the town by the police, who were there with us.
We really saw God at work at Murambara more than the other places. One challenging thing at this venue was that after finishing with our work in town with the blind we were all taken to the district commissioner's office for some questions by the police. While at the office we were asked whether we were really allowed to be distributing things in the country. We were held for almost three hours answering a lot of questions. Using our Registration certificate for the RVBTM ministry in Malawi we were then allowed to proceed with our work.
I thank God that they let us go ahead without a problem. Security in Mozambique is strict and people there are still living with a lot of fear. We prayed for freedom in Mozambique for many people we visited in these isolated places who don't realise that the war, which was there, is finished.
After Muranbara we left for Mutarara where we had another meeting with Pastors and leaders from churches around the town. The meeting was good and well attended.
Blind people came to the meeting and just like their friends they were given some money for food, blankets, sugar and soap. Mutarara is a place where I’m used to meeting with a lot of blind people. The pastor here has a great love for the blind people - this greatly challenged me. There are not many people in Mozambique who have a heart for the blind people. I really thank God for this journey and all that happened.
I saw the way that our friends are living in Mozambique after the floods and many of them are staying in tents in camps. Some NGOs are helping these people, which is really good. One blind man called Antonio came to me thanking me that the blanket he had received was the first one in his life. One could not believe this man but he was so serious in what he was saying and it was true!
|THE BLIND MAN DRESSED IN RED JACKET WAS GIVEN A BLANKET - HE HAD NEVER HAD ONE IN HIS LIFE||THE FLOODS EARLIER IN THE YEAR HAD WASHED AWAY MANY HOUSES - FOLKS ARE NOW LIVING IN GRASS HUTS COVERED WITH PLASTIC SHEETING.|
As well as the physical hunger in Mozambique there is also a great spiritual hunger. Many organizations are going with food, clothes and building materials but none of them are going with spiritual support. People so need the gospel- my heart aches for them.
As to write off let me thank you once again for joining me during this trip in prayer.
A few print Bibles in Chichewa were distributed to some Pastors and many were asking for them.
Pray for spiritual food for the folks in Mozambique.
Pray for Torch fellowship group committees in Mozambique to have a heart of the blind.
Pray for the provision of print Chichewa Bibles for pastors and leaders in Mozambique. (Nowhere in Mozambique can one buy a Bible).
Pray for assurance of freedom in the lives of many Mozambicans.
Pray for some practical help such as clothes, blankets, bicycles, soap etc.
Pray for the next trip.
Special thanks to the Lord for the provision of the vehicle, which really helped us visiting all these people without any breakdown. I just wouldn’t have been able to visit these folks without the vehicle. I am just so full of praise and thanks to God for it. Praise God for protection in travelling and in many other ways. Above all my spirit sings with joy as many have heard the Word of God and responded to it. ”
More information can be obtained from Janet Stafford at Torch House
Mobile: 07789 428541
It is a great thrill to get a glimpse of the isolated compounds as the plane comes in to land at the Chileka airport, Blantyre. It doesn’t matter how many times I come to Malawi - the excitement is always there!!
|View of compounds from the plane||Red earth and dried brown grass|
Once we got unpacked on the day we arrived we began sorting the boxes and taking out the ones for specific people and places. They had all been stored in a higgledy-piggledy state as the picture shows. John here in the picture has been a tremendous help. It is a great encouragement to know that among our Christian young people today there are the Johns who display such a servant heart. Once the initial sorting was done, John devised a method of locating a specific box. All too soon it was Friday and time for us to make way down to Lower Shire for the weekend.
|John standing by the Torch vehicle||Some of the boxes in the bedroom|
On Saturday blind folks (who were visiting Konzere) and the orphan children (who are cared for by Ellen and Lapson Mbewe) received gifts sent specifically for them from friends at Allerbridge and Falkirk. Everyone was so happy. For many of the children it was the first such gift they had ever received. Each child was given a box containing some items. The box was covered in beautiful paper and for them was a gift in itself! These will be treasured by the children I know for many a day to come. Many of the children were too excited to eat and spent hours playing with their games and toys. Each child had clothes too, which had been chosen to fit them and they delighted dressing up and showing them off.
|Janet and Lapson with some of the beautiful covered boxes||Happy small orphan boy with his teddy||Blind Emmanuel, who was so jubilant!|
The Evangelical Bible College of Malawi have over recent years taken in blind students to their college. I was able to meet with three young blind men, who have been praying for sometime for the chance to go to Bible College. They have completed application forms and now wait to be called for an interview in August. They are all fine Christian young men, spoken well of by their church pastor and active members of their Church. They are each members of Torch Fellowship group committees. If God opens the door for them to be accepted for Bible College they will need sponsoring. Is this something you might feel you would like to assist with? If so please contact Janet Stafford at JanetS@torchtrust.org for more information.
|Charles Everson||David Tsong’ontho||Macford July|
PLEASE PRAY FOR THESE THREE YOUNG MEN
Over 80 very old blind people and 21 elderly widows had an overnight at Konzere. As they arrived they looked so frail and hardly able to climb down from the lorry or crawl out of the back of the pickup truck. At the meeting in the evening I asked them to promise not to die while at Konzere - this made them laugh! Seven younger blind people were invited to come and sing and preach so to keep things going. They were folks who would normally be overlooked and pushed to the back but I was so blessed by them - God used them in a wonderful way! I couldn’t believe it when the singing went on all through the night. Once they started to praise the Lord they really woke up and danced the hours away. It was just amazing to see and hear them. These are the “unknown” of this world but to hear their testimonies of how God has blessed and cared for them over the years was an absolute inspiration. As I watched them and listened to them I thought, yes “not famous, but faithful!” What rewards will be theirs when they get to heaven! May we never ignore our elderly people - how we need them - they can teach us so much! The Lord blessed and encouraged them as they were made to feel special. The orphan children were tremendous and cared for them in many practical ways. They enjoyed good food prepared for them by 15 women. They were all given a course of vitamin tablets and some paracetamol to take home. They all received a gift - for the blind people a blanket and soap and the widows all received a shoe box, which had been prepared for them by a group of ladies in Allerbridge. Many live in isolation and have daily hardships to endure long term. The fact they felt secure and were able to relax soon got their chuckle muscles going and it wasn’t long before they were laughing together - this in itself was great healing. The value of such a weekend is immeasurable in human terms!
|Blind People in the back of a pickup||blind lady enjoying her meal|
The orphan children call him “Uncle”. He is partially sighted and has the scars of leprosy and is unable to walk and use his hands well. He came to have a dressing on a wound on his hand and hip, but was in need of a shower before I could help him. Emmanuel and Timothy (two of the orphan teenagers) came to his rescue and scooped him up in the wheelbarrow and took and showered him. When he came back his dirty clothes had been removed and he was wearing a clean tee shirt and a pair of trousers.
Emmanuel had given “Uncle” from his own few pieces of clothing. I was very moved by this expression of love shown to “Uncle”. The Lord has so changed these young men by His love that now they are always reaching out to others and showing by their actions that it is JESUS, who has made the difference in their lives.
(This is not the Mega Voice, a solar powered machine containing the whole Bible, which is still waiting to be produced)
A limited number of the audio Bible in Chichewa were produced by the Bible Society - this is extracts from the Bible and runs on battery. I was able to purchase some from the Bible Society and they were given to those amongst the elderly blind people who couldn’t read Braille and who would make good use of them. It was just unbelievable what they were hearing - the Bible for themselves in their own language. Absolutely wonderful!
One of the biggest challenges we face as we travel to the fellowship groups and the villages is the treatment of wounds. Every where we have been there has been a challenge!
We were just beginning the clinic when a girl was brought on a bicycle. She was epileptic and had fallen into the fire. She also had another huge ulcer on her other leg. She was in a very bad state - seeing her plight made me weep - only God can save this girls leg. The wound was dressed and we prayed to the Heavenly Dr. Her father is a Christian and was so pleased that we prayed - he had cycled a long distance with his daughter on the back of the bicycle to come to us for help. We met a blind man at a meeting, who had a wound on his leg for over 50 years. We are trusting God that He will heal this man!
In another village we were asked to visit an old woman and she had which I presume was a “bed sore” from lying no the ground as she has no bed. It was huge. Living very near to us here at Konzere is a girl of 8 years who came with 3 ulcers - a vast improvement has been seen in a few days.
We had a great encouragement at one of the fellowship groups. No sooner had the motor arrived and I got out when a young boy of about 10 came running to me to show me his hand! We had met him a year ago and he had a huge wound on the back of his hand which had spread through the fingers to the palm. God had healed it! How we praised the Lord for this healed hand. The boy sang his heart out at the meeting with his arms stretched up to the Lord. The Lord really blessed us by this young lad and it has been in my mind as we have met so many humanly impossible wounds since. but our “God is able to do abundantly more than we can ever ask or think”.
I have just returned from a five-week visit to Malawi. It was a visit that was wonderfully blessed by God. Much prayer had gone into the visit beforehand - and it showed!
God has opened many hearts to the gospel, and we have seen dramatic changes in people being delivered from curses, and in the healing of many big - and in some cases huge - ulcers. God has worked many miracles in lives physically, spiritually and emotionally.
I was very blessed visiting some of the Torch Fellowship Groups in the Lower Shire area. We visited four under the care of Mr Alufazema, three under the care of Mr Kanjunjunju and four under the care of Lapson Mbewe. After each meeting, we held a clinic. On one day 160 women came together and received instruction in basic hygiene. On another day 80 pastors from the churches covered by Lapson Mbewe’s ministry came together, and received Bible teaching and also how best to care for, and guide, a blind person. A Committees Day for the Torch Fellowship Groups in the area was attended by 130 people; it was very good and helpful.
It was good too to visit four different churches on the Sundays I was there - two of them being joined by their local Torch Fellowship Groups.
We had special days for different groups of people: one for orphan children and one for widows - when they each received a shoe box specifically made up for them with clothes measured to fit and other items from a ladies’ group in UK. Then we had a weekend for the very old blind people - this was mega!
On each occasion the Word of God that was shared was blessed and in many cases met the specific need of that particular Fellowship Group or church. Another blessing was to see people feeling drawn to help with some of the Fellowship Groups.
I just love being in the villages, and have got to know many people during this visit. Yes, it has been a very busy non-stop programme, but the Lord has been with us in power and given us the daily strength needed. We are full of praise and thanksgiving to Him.
Hallelujah! “Salvation belongs to our God!”
Huge beautiful baobab trees are seen in many villages of Malawi and it is called the "tree of life." I love the extravagance of a God who created the wonderful baobab tree and the many spiritual lessons we can draw from it. Looking at the trunk of the baobab tree it seems that many trunks have been bound together to make one tree.. Its strength is in the roots that go deep into the earth. The branches spread out giving shade and are a place where the birds come and go. As you reflect on the baobab tree I am sure God will speak to you and show you spiritul lessons from it.
I really thank God for having this time to write this report regarding the visit made by sister Janet and John. God really knows the right time to send his workers out for ministry. It was good that the two came and praise be to God for sending them and using them in the way He wanted.
To be honest the just ended visit was a blessing and I am sure that this was inline with the will of the Lord.
Looking at the way Janet has worked during the visit I have seen that she has ministered in the following areas: blind people, churches, ministry and the communities. Below find the ways how the Lord used her;
MINISTRY TO THE BLIND;
As there are many blind people in the country it was good that during the visit sister Janet ministered to some of them. During the visit she was able to visit the following Torch Felowship Groups: Dande, Chindole, Makande, Mpheza, Magoti, Bangula, Nyamithuthu, Phokera, Mkotamo, Nsanje boma, Chiphwembwe, Matundu and Marka.
It was really good to see the blind brothers and sisters being reached with the gospel as well as the practical help which was given to them. In all fellowship groups visited the Lord had a specific reason for sending us there. I thank Him for the plans He had for the sisters and a brother during the visit. A lot were treated and helped with clothes, and some money for food.
Some of the people had real needs both spiritual and practical. It was good to see that a lot received healing both physically and spiritually. The highlight of this was the time when there was a gathering for the aged blind people and widows. This was really the time God was at His work. Seeing these people singing for the Lord, people who are very old singing all night through giving testimonies and sharing the words of the Lord made me praise Him. Honestly, there are not many places in the world where meetings like these happen. People always think that aged blind people can do nothing for the Lord. I was so challenged to hear them singing and sharing the gospel.
They came to the meeting with sad faces and went home happily. Praise God!
As Torch Fellowship groups around the country consist of people who are coming from churches I felt that it would be good this time that sister Janet should visit some churches which are related with the work of Torch in the area. I thank God that doors were opened for us to visit Ng'ombe Baptist Church, Mtopola Bethany Bible Church and Christian Apostolic Church of God. In all these churches sister Janet shared the gospel of the Lord and also spoke about the work of Torch. I am glad that people through the visit have heard what Torch is all about and also that they were able to receive treatment as we were having a clinic after prayers. Many people from the villages around the visited churches were also treated.
Highlight of this was a meeting at Nyamithuthu where we had a church meeting together with the blind people. The Lord did something great to an epileptic girl who had a very bad wound. The girl came with a very sad face and after being treated I saw that there was a great change in her face. This showed me that the Lord touched her from the love she received from sister Janet.
MINISTRY AND FELLOWSHIP GROUPS COMMITEES’ MEETING;
This was also something so important that sister Janet did during her visit: she was able to speak to the fellowship Group leaders, and I am so thankful that she was able to teach the leaders on how to guide a blind person and also gave a talk on what Torch is all about. Yes this was right because a person cannot be a leader of something he/she does not know. So I’m thankful that the leaders were encouraged and they went home happily after hearing all that was shared.
MINISTRY TO THE COMMUNITY
Not only the Torch fellowship groups were reached but also the communities in the villages around the centres visited. Malawi is a country which is undergoing hardships due to poverty. A lot of hospitals have no medicine. It was so helpful and people really learned that there is a God who cares, when they saw that God can provide to them medicine free of charge. Many people were treated and healed.
The highlight of this is the lady who had a very big wound which she thought was the result of a curse. After praying and cutting off the curse in the name of Jesus the lady was treated and the wound, which she had had for three years, was healed in two weeks. Praise the Lord for the healing!!
ONLY HEALTHY PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH HAPPILY;
It was also good to see that during the visit sister Janet thought it wise to have time with ladies from different churches around the area where she had lessons with them on hygiene in the household.
A lot of people have problems with worms, abdominal pains, dysentry etc due to poor living conditions and a lack of toilets. It was good to have time with these women and I am sure that what was taught to them will help. It’s my prayer that God should help the women to follow the teaching.
As I thank God for all he did through sister Janet I also would like to thank all those who made it possible for her to come to Malawi. It is my heart prayer that God should bless them all. LAPSON
The talking Bible in Chichewa has been such a blessing to the blind people who have received one. They were given to a few of those who could not read braille ( there are many who would love to have. As you read these testimonies you may feel you would like to help others to be able to hae one too. If so email Janets@torchtrust.org for more information.)
Lapson has got these testimonies from the blind people he has recently visited.
Mrs Madalena Thove is a widow who is 69 years old. Her children are married and are not living near her. She is often alone and the day when I paid her a visit I found her listening to the talking Bible. She said "I thank God for this talking Bible. To be honest each time I listen Ii feel so close to the Lord. When ever I listen it's like hearing the Lord talking to me. My life is being changed everytime I listen to it. I had always wanted to have somebody who could be reading the Bible to me but there was no one. I am so happy now that the Lord has answered my prayer by providing this for me."
The second testimony is from brother Frank Thole. "I became blind when I was 45 years old and I was an elder in my church, I used to enjoy reading the Bible when I was sighted. Life wasn't easy for me when I went blind and I missed more than anything reading the Bible. There was no chance for me to learn braille. I had been asking people to read the Bible to me but they never came, It was this year Ii was given a talking Bible.Yes, its an answer to my prayer. Iam now so eventful to God for this provision. I now enjoy hearing the words of God. Each time I feel hungry for God's Word I just switch on my talking Bible. This is wonderful!"
"My Name is Lameck Tomasi and I am 43 years old. I am married with two childrean. I came to know the Lord soon after I went blind. I really thank God for saving my life and taking away my sight. I don't regret having gone blind but I do thank God for the spiritual sight I received in exchange for my physical sight. I received Jesus as my personal Saviour at one of the Torch Fellowship group meetings at Konzere village. The speaker during the day spoke about Bartimaeus who cried for his sight from Jesus. I felt like him and did the same. I have seen a change in my mind towards the loss of my physical sight and the Lord has touched my heart and spoke to me in a special way. As a new Christian I wanted to be hearing the Bible but the problem was how to get the words to me. God has his own ways of doing things. This year I had the privilege of being given a talking Bible in Chichewa which is really helping me. I am so happy that I can now hear the word of the Lord without problems. I see my life growing spiritually every time I listen to my talking Bible. It is also my closest friend for it is not easy for me to visit people or people to visit me.
The delay in the container arriving has been very frustrating but there has been plenty to do, which I guess wouldn't have got done if the container had been here!
We arrived at a village where there are a group of blind people. A strange and putrid smell filled the air. It wasn’t long before we came across the cause. A hippo had been killed and was on sale. He was a big fellow and there was rather a lot of it left plus the feet and head etc! It had been there two days and as it was very, very hot it had begun to go rotten. It certainly didn’t appeal to me!
Joyce and Frackson Madzimbala, are both
blind and live in a village not far from a resource centre for blind and partially sighted children.
Joyce has befriended some of the girls and
they visit regularly for encouragement and
Joyce helps them with Braille and other things. Two were there with Joyce when I visited and having a great time. Joyce is a good braillest and reader of Braille. She also is a good knitter and machinist and is really enjoying helping the girls.
Tambuza has blind parents - and his mother also suffers from epilepsy. He stood by and cared for his parents when his brothers and sisters left home for the big city. We set Tambuza up with a treadle sewing machine a year past, and it was just great to see how he has set up and developed a business in the village. He has his own little house near his parents and recently his wife had their first child.
Maria on the right spends part of her days praying for others and is always an encouragement when we visit her. Sadly part of the grass roof of her house was affected by the rain. She and her other blind friends had gone to the market leaving no one on the compound. While they were out someone came and climbed in through the roof and stole the few clothes that Maria had. To think of stealing from a blind woman who had so little! Maria was very sad when I visited her but it wasn’t long before she was laughing - her only fear is that the person will come again. Linda Ponche, on the left is a deep rooted christian and when she prays she lifts you up into the presence of the Lord.
We met Antonio Batumeyo, a deaf blind man, walking along the road with his child guide. He was very happy to climb into the back of the motor - he looked clean and was wearing what looked a nice pair of flip flops. Farther along the road we stopped to speak to someone else and there with his feet tucked under him I could see the bare reality. Both soles of each flip flop had big holes and the soles of his feet were coming through.
What a privilege to visit the blind people in their homes. These visits are so looked forward to and there is no doubt that they are of mutual blessing. Listening to the stories of the blind people is always a challenge; seeing them gradually relax knowing they feel safe and seeing the smile and ultimately hearing the hearty laugh is wonderful. An encouraging word and prayer is always part of each visit. Here Lapson is with one of the smallest blind ladies we know - she is absolutely lovely and just loves Jesus so much! Mr Nyampeza on the right is always ready to talk and share. There are so many blind people who don't get visits and are just lonely and like sheep without a shepherd!
I first met Kisswell Office in 1990 when we took him English Braille Bible volumes. Thankfully he lives with his mother up on the ridge above the valley so was not affected by the flooding that came through the East Bank washing out some roads, many farms and in some places houses too. Kisswell continues to read his Braille Bible volumes and to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Like so many, unknown by man but known fully by God.
Eveline was so jubilant when she came to see me. "I've something to show you Mama Janet," she said. From hidden away in her blouse she drew out a nice pink cell phone. "You'll never guess how I got this, she continued. I have been learning verses from the Bible as it is difficult for me to carry braille volumes around with me. Last weekend I got up in Church and recited many of them. Every one was so surpised at what I did. When they heard I get the braille volumes from Torch and the distance I had to travel to get them they decided to buy me a phone as a reward so I can keep in touch with Torch." What a comfort the Word of God has been to Eveline since her daughter died with cancer a couple of years ago and then recently as she has been diagnosed with epilepsy.
We are so thankful for the safe arrival of the container - it got held up in congestion in Beira, Mozambique. There seemed to be one hold up after another, but as we viewed the situation we could recognise God's control of the situation. Various important visits were made that wouldnt have been done if the container had arrived earlier.The goods have been stored and will be distributed on the next visit. Everything was intact and we were charged no duty on anything so we have much to praise the Lord for.
Janet is making visits to the Lower Shire district (Malawi's poorest area) to meet and encourage blind folk and those who help and support them. She plans to visit several of the 80+ Torch Fellowship Groups. She is also planning to set up a couple more libraries of accessible Christian books and to catch up on various projects including a bore hole for water supply and Sheila Armstrong's maize mill project.
WHAT A WELCOME! Around the city of Blantyre it was dusty and cold with no green! It should be very hot and getting ready for the early rains.The climate seems to have gone haywire! BUT to look up was rather different as the jacaranda trees were in full bloom and they were quite spectacular - with their lilac mauve colour they were just absolutely breathtaking to see. As one travels from the airport towards the city of Blantyre jacoranda trees have been planted by the sides of the road. The contrast is so startling - looking down the brown and dryness but looking up the wonderful colour and beauty. Is that something we need to be reminded of - to keep looking up away from our difficulties to God, who is able to bring colour and beauty into our situations?
A number of days were spent visiting Torch Fellowship Groups in the area of Balaka and Wetheya where there have been several new groups formed over recent months. A number of visits were also made to the blind people in the Lower Shire. There are many folks in the rural areas who give of their time to support and visit the blind people. It is always a challenge to see the way God is blessing this commitment.
(left to right top row)
1. The picture shows Rose Chiponda and a crowd of children. Rose and Lazarus had a meeting with the children while Lapson and I spent time with the blind people. They all received a soft toy. For many of the children it was the first and only toy they had ever received!
2. A group of blind ladies at one of the Torch Fellowship Group meetings. The men were sitting on the opposite side.
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3. Mai Asembu, Mama Janet and Mai Thikiti - good friends!
4. One of the families we visited, Frackisona and Joyce Madzimbala and their two children.
Malawi is the tenth poorest country in the world, and the blind people are often in special need of practical help, which we are sometimes able to provide, along with a ministry of spreading the gospel and encouraging the Christian blind people.
The Bible shows that concern for poor people and a passion for justice are part of what it means to be a Christian. So our support to those who are blind and disabled in Malawi continues. These include
I was able to visit a number of the current projects. These included seeing some of the toilets that have been built, a number of houses and two bore holes. Providing two ladies with sewing machines. Three children with a bicycle so each can support their blind parents. A wheel chair to Mr Mose.
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1and 2. These are two examples of the most recent project. Small pit latrines that are being built for blind people and their families. For many of the blind people this is the first time they have had a toilet. It has given them dignity and a sense of self worth.
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3. This blind man was given a guitar and told if he could play it within a week then he could have it. I'd love you to hear him play and sing - he is fabulous!
4. This maize mill was built using a gift from a church; the profits go to help the blind people.
All has been given and done in the name of Jesus, enabling our brothers and sisters to live in dignity, and in some small measure provide for themselves. It is only because people pray and give that any of these achievements have been possible.
Will you continue to support us in these projects and others?
A list of projects is available from Torch House. Or contact me via email JanetS@torchtrust.org
As library books have become surplus in our Library here in the UK we have been able to send them for use among our English braille readers overseas. We have nearly 30 in African countries.
I was able to set up two more small libraries in the Southern part of Malawi. One of these is in a small town called Bangula where Mary Asembu lives. Mary and her two friends, Meg and Vitola, were all blind and the very best of friends. If you met one then the others wouldn’t be far behind - they moved together and spent most days in each other’s company. Sadly Meg became ill, she had AIDS and she died.(Approx 2000 a week die of AIDS in Malawi and life expectancy is 37 years).
Vitola, Mary’s other friend, was pregnant, the father unknown. At the time of delivery she was diagnosed as also having AIDS - the baby too was infected. They both died.
Mary is now left on her own. Her words to me were “My only friend now is my braille Bible”. If you want to find Mary it won’t be in the town, but I suggest you go to her little mud brick house and I reckon she’ll be sitting in the porch reading her braille Bible. She may decide to visit the little library and borrow a book from time to time, but nothing will compensate and comfort her like her braille Bible volumes.
The mobile library which has been set up in the Konzere area of Malawi covers 19 villages over a radius of 62 km. This is operated by four men on bicycles - it has 34 English braille users and a good number of Chichewa readers who just receive the Bible volumes. It has been very effective in that in some of the villages the sighted people gather together with the blind people and a book is read to the group (we need to realise that these folks have nothing else to read and only the occasional person has a radio).
Kresiya Kampango said that the only friends she now has are Braille books. Before the library brought her books she used to have a lot of hard times, no-one to talk to, nothing to do. She has learnt such a lot from the book called 'Amazing book of Bible facts'. She says “I really find happiness after reading the books. Books bring life and healing in me. Books take away loneliness from me.”
Harlord Tambala, a lad of 19 years, said that on finishing school he had nothing to do at home only sitting and sleeping. It was not easy to find a friend in his village. He said, “Having the books brought to my house really brings life in me. The books I have so far read have really moved me up and I now have a clear understanding of spiritual life. Books like 'Man of compassion, man of prayer' and 'Jesus here and now'. Yes reading is now taking away my loneliness from me and who would have thought those dots would be like a friend to me. I thank God for these books."
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1. Hope reading her print Bible. She will sit and read her Bible to the blind people who come to visit.
2. A blind lad, from a nearby Secondary School, reading a braille book at the Konzere library.
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3. The Chichewa New Testament in giant print has been welcomed by many who have low vision.
4. Mary Asembu sitting on the porch of her small house reading her braille Bible volume.
5. A low vision man who has been helped with a pair of reading glasses.