Saturday had us well-rested for today as our team split up to worship at the churches of a few of CAPA’s M.Div Year 3 students. Nathan and I attended Ernest’s church, Presbyterian Church of Malawi. We left at 7:30 and were taken to church on a tuk-tuk. When we arrived, we were greeted by Ernest, his wife, and two kids. Ernest briefed us a bit on what the service would look like, but we were still so thoroughly surprised to see how these brothers and sisters in Christ went about their Sunday morning worship.
In its structure, it very closely resembled the services we were accustomed to back home: Singing, Announcements, Offertory, Prayer, and the Message. Because we attended the church’s English service, the songs were all in English, many of them were shorter choruses. I was pleasantly surprised to see both the congregation and the worship team all dancing in jubilee as they worshipped. It was as if dancing was as integral to their worship as we see singing to be. Following the worship, Ernest’s two-week old baby was dedicated by the pastor in front of the congregation, and after a time of offering and prayer, the pastor preached on obedience to God and His Word. It was encouraging to see how much Biblical support he gave to stress the necessity of obedience in a believer’s life. After the service, Ernest, a youth pastor in the church and a welder by trade, showed us the rooms (many still under construction) where he taught the children. He pointed out many of the trusses and ironwork that he had helped weld together during the church’s construction.
We headed back to the Ayres’s household after church where we awaited the rest of our team to return from their respective churches. As they slowly trickled in (some had longer services or stayed for lunch with other churchgoers), we were able to discuss what each of us had learned from the sermons we heard as well as the nuances in how each church we attended worshipped. We spent some time decompressing and processing our church experiences and then got ready for dinner at the Kopp’s.
At the Kopp’s house, I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with the Kopp children, they have five kids, and after dinner, we went outside and played with their two very large and playful dogs, Sam and Frodo, ran around in a game of “Shark in the Dark”, and played some basketball. We ended dinner, and the day in the best way possible, with amazing brownies, followed by prayer with Pastor Kopp.
For our team, today was such an incredible and unique opportunity to exhort and be exhorted by members of local churches in Malawi. I really did struggle with my own spiritual pride as I fought to refrain from judging how my Malawian brothers and sisters in Christ worshipped. By God’s grace, I was able to identify places in my worship that I must constantly check. I repeatedly came back to the question, what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth. I know I often cling so dearly to the hymns that I am used to singing, and I know of their deep truths, but do I offer true doxology, if I don’t worship in spirit, singing with true meditation and conviction of the praise I offer? In most of the services we attended, this passion was evident in dancing, and it was a great reminder of the spirit in which we are called to praise our God.
It is such a rare privilege to be able to see so closely the fruits of an international mission like CAPA. Nathan and I rode back from church with one of Ernest’s friends and as we talked to him, he started sharing his desire to be trained at CAPA. When we asked why CAPA, he said that he had seen how Ernest had become a better shepherd and attributed it to his time at CAPA. Hearing stories like this, listening to sermons where the Word was systematically exposited at churches across Lilongwe, we were so encouraged and blessed to see how CAPA is equipping the church in Malawi with sound teaching. It was such a fitting way to start our final week of ministry at CAPA.