A Pastor and a Bishop Who Repented

13 Apr

A Pastor and a Bishop Who Repented

A Pastor and a Bishop Who Repented

David’s 3rd Photo-Blog From East Africa

Two people of whom the world is not worthy: Charles and Regina Mithowa

About 20 years ago, I wrote a 500-page book titled, The Disciple-Making Minister. In the first few chapters of that book, I told the story of my repentance when I was a pastor. If you haven’t heard my story, you can read the details here: //www.davidservant.com/dear-pastor-will-you-repent-with-me/

The essence of that story is that God opened my eyes concerning His view of my pastoral ministry. I went from thinking I was a success to realizing I was a failure.

The key Bible passage the Holy Spirit used to open my eyes was Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus’ foretelling of the future judgment of the sheep and the goats. Through that passage and the Holy Spirit’s help, I realized that neither I, nor most of the members of my congregation, were ready to stand before Jesus. We resembled the goats more than the sheep. I also realized that I had been building a “church” rather than making disciples whom I was teaching to obey all that Christ commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). So I repented. And Matthew 25:31-46 ultimately became the basis for launching the ministry of Heaven’s Family. That was 21 years ago.

I also realized around the same time that most pastors were no different than I was. Most are not making disciples—as Jesus did, and as He commanded us to do (and by following His methods).

Once I was released from my pastorate, I started teaching at pastors’ conferences in many nations. I would always start by telling my story. All the pastors who heard it would naturally examine their own ministries and ask themselves the question: Will I start making disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded, or will I keep leading weekly church services and giving sermons? I knew that the decision they made would have an eternal impact, for them and others.

During those years, The Disciple-Making Minister was translated into more than 20 languages, and close to 100,000 copies were printed and distributed to Christian leaders around the world. It was a means of spreading the message and equipping pastors who wanted to make disciples. I thank God for all those who heeded Jesus’ call and who started to build with “gold, silver, and precious stones” rather than with “wood, hay, and straw” that will one day burn to ashes in the fire of judgment (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

Somehow, a copy of The Disciple-Making Minister made its way into a Presbyterian book store in Blantyre, Malawi, East Africa, and it was purchased by an African Anglican bishop named Charles Mithowa. Charles had earned his title by planting the requisite 20 Anglican churches, and it earned him a bishop’s salary, special preaching robe, and lots of prestige and honor. He was, however, greatly challenged when he began reading The Disciple-Making Minister in 2007. He told me yesterday that it was actually “painful to read.” He knew God was calling him to stop playing African Anglican games and start making disciples who would obey Jesus. He fought the conviction for some time as he counted the cost—as every potential disciple of Jesus must do (Luke 14:25-33). Eventually, Charles surrendered. He renounced everything he had been doing that he knew was antithetical to following Jesus. And he sent a letter to me, telling me of his decision.

Many in his congregation did not like the changes they witnessed. Their bishop was humiliating himself, and acting like a humble servant. Some did not appreciate Charles’ new emphasis on obeying all that Jesus commanded.

When he began starting small house churches, Charles became the subject of gossip and ridicule by other pastors and Christian leaders. But he never looked back. When he learned about Farming God’s Way from one of Heaven’s Family’s former staff members named Dick Samuels, he knew it was the key to lifting the poor whom he was sincerely trying to serve. He also knew it could open doors for the gospel among Malawi’s failing subsistence farmers, who comprise 85% of the nation’s population.

Today, just a few years later, Charles’ decision to follow Jesus no matter the cost has paid off in a big way for the Kingdom. Charles and those whom he has trained have planted more than 80 house churches which they refer to as “God’s Love Groups,” 40 of which consist of mostly Muslim-background believers. Those house churches are comprised, not of “coverts who prayed a salvation prayer,” but of disciples who are striving to follow Jesus and multiply disciples. At the same time, thousands of formerly-failing subsistence farmers are growing more crops than they can consume, so they have crops to sell, the proceeds of which they use to improve their lives in other ways, such as sending their children to school.

Jai Sarma, Heaven’s Family’s Director of International Development who is with us on this trip to East Africa, and who has spent 37 years working in the field of International Development all around the world, has told us he has never seen anything like what he has witnessed in Malawi. It is economical, indigenous-led, holistic (spirit, soul and body) ministry. Thanks to everyone who is a part of this miracle made possible through your gifts to Heaven’s Family’s Farming God’s Way Ministry!

Below I’ve added a few photos from today with captions. Three of us followed a young girl named Susan on her daily hike from her village, named Amos, to the local water source, which requires that Susan carry a 5-gallon bucket of water on top of her head up steep slopes. Those photos will help you count your blessings. Susan’s village, comprised mostly of our spiritual family members, needs safe water, which we hope to provide. — David

That is Susan on the right, waiting for her turn to scoop water into her five-gallon bucket. Although the water source of her village is better than some mud puddles from which rural Malawians draw their water, it is still the cause of intestinal ailments.

The hike back from water source to Amos Village is 3/8th’s of a mile with a 300-foot elevation gain, which is often steep, as shown in this photo. A five-gallon bucket of water weighs 40 pounds. Susan told us she often carries TWO five-gallon buckets on her head, stacked on top of each other. She makes this round trip FIVE times every day.

Here is Susan (third from right) along with four of her friends (and Susan’s mother) as they arrive back at their village. They (as we) were drenched in sweat from the exertion and tropical heat.

The message on Susan’s t-shirt certainly proved to be true!

FGW Director Jerry Jefferson addressing the adults of the very remote village of Chirembwe, where almost everyone is practicing Farming God’s Way and thankful for all the benefits. They greeted us with joyful singing and dancing, as is the case at every village we visit.
One of the younger citizens of Chirembwe

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