When discipleship and ministry collide
OM International | Malawi
During the OM Malawi Ride 2 Transform 2017 cycle tour, 17 cyclists biked 550 kilometres around southern Malawi, distributing AudioBibles and praying.
The focus of the tour—the third by the OM Malawi team—was ministry to local people, including support raising for OM Malawi’s newest project—but when all was said and done, the cyclists themselves, along with the local missionaries at various ministry points along the way, felt they experienced as much growth as anyone they met along the road. Here are three reflections on the tour:
The first and the last, from a cyclist’s perspective
Canadian education student Chris Foster first came to Malawi as part of the OM Africa Trek, a travelling missions discipleship programme. He joined the first Ride 2 Transform tour in 2015, and now he has participated in the third, as well. Reflecting on the two trips, Chris says he definitely spent more time in prayer during the most recent tour.
“It was more focused,” he says. “In the first tour, we were cycling sometimes 140 km in a day, so the focus was more on getting from A to B. This time, I was in prayer a lot more as I biked.”
Remaining focused on prayer was a challenge, he says, but the payoff was worth it.
“Seeing people come together in prayer for the [local] people was really encouraging,” he says. “To sense God’s Spirit leading us in prayers, and seeing answers to prayers.”
And as for the lessons he’ll take from this tour, Chris says he wants to take every opportunity in Canada to share the gospel with people, as he did during breaks in the cycle tour.
He also plans to stay in a prayer mindset.
“After hours and hours of prayer and worship, I could genuinely go up to a person and say, ‘We’re cycling because we love people.’ In Canada, I want to constantly be in prayer for my people, as well,” he says.
At the end of yourself
First-time cyclist Daniel Hilde, from Paraguay, enjoyed seeing an environment in Malawi that was similar to his own culture, but he was struck by the level of poverty. The surprises of Malawi also included the tour itself, which took on a lot more than he was expecting.
“I didn’t even know what would happen until I got to Malawi. I thought we would just be riding and evangelising,” he says.
Daniel’s biggest takeaway centred on obeying God in every opportunity, and allowing God to shape and refine him in all of his experiences, especially in his struggles.
“This was one of the best ‘character schools’ you can do, where you get to the end of yourself, physically,” he says. “You really get exhausted, and that brings out your real character. It reveals the flaws of your character, which isn’t nice, but it allows God to start the purification process. I would recommend it to anyone. The discipleship of the tour goes really well with the physical challenge of cycling.”
The best of the best
Heading up one of the ministry teams were Kearson and Petunia, a couple committed to serving God in Malawi. Both Kearson, a Malawian, and Petunia, born and raised in South Africa, agreed that the Ride 2 Transform tour was one of the best ministry outreaches—if not the best—they had ever been a part of.
Stationed in the village of Chiponde, to the east of Mangochi and Lake Malawi, for seven days, Kearson and Petunia, along with their team, were the final ministry stop along the cycle tour’s route. In the village, the team connected with people through three ministries: sports, children’s, and women’s.
“I can honestly say we had no problems,” Petunia says. “All of our ministries went smoothly, and the people of the community were surprisingly open to hearing more about Jesus.”
Petunia said that she has avoided children’s ministry in the past because she has little experience with it, but even that proved to be an effective programme.
The team gave audioBibles—and Bible copies—to the village chief and his advisors. Many in the village, Kearson says, begged the team to stay longer. He and Petunia agree that since the village is close to their home in Ntaja, they will plan on making weekly visits to continue sharing Jesus through discipleship.
Published: Thursday, 27 July 2017
Credit: OM International