We arrived excitedly at the building which is about 15 minutes from the hotel. As we drove in we were met by the church brethren welcoming us with a little boy and girl presenting us flowers and a note of greeting! How wonderful. Then we were led to the door of the church which had a ribbon in the entrance with the entire congregation singing “Welcome to the Kubiks!" I was given scissors to cut the ribbon in two places. Then Bev and I entered the hall. The last time we were here was one year ago and the building was under heavy construction. The hall is beautiful, spacious and new. The floor is painted concrete and the ceiling made of wood. The ceiling is high about 18 feet or so.
We started the service with the dedication ceremony. I gave a message from I Kings 8, which is the dedication of Solomon’s Temple in which the people are blessed first. The people are the real temple!
Then I prayed a prayer of dedication and mentioned the main elements of Solomon’s Prayer.
Here are the words from I Kings 8 that I read and commented on:
1 Kings 8:1-2 "Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the City of David, which is Zion. Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with King Solomon at the feast in the month of Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
1 Kings 8:12-21 "Then Solomon spoke: 'The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. 13 I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.'
14 "Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.
1 Kings 8:27-30 "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive."
1 Kings 8:41-43 "Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name's sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.
1 Kings 8:54-61 "And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55 Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56 'Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses. 57 May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, 58 that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers. 59 And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require, 60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.
1 Kings 8:64 "On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord; for there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings."
(New King James Version)
Then there was a reading of dedication by pastor Gracious Mpilangwe which was beautifully done. You can see the text to this reading at the end of this post. Credit was given to God as well as to all the people who were involved in the project.
Next was the church service. GG Chikaza gave the sermonette. He is 88 years old and gave a wonderful message about the Church, the ecclesia… it was well done. His one prayer was to stay alive until he could see this church be built. His prayer was answered.
Then there were three musical pieces by the children choir, adult choir and a trio consisting of Dan Ringo, his girlfriend Carol, and David Hussein.
Then I gave my sermon which was being a Living Letter taken from II Corinthians 3:1-3.
Next there was a presentation of a gift. The gift was a clock of Malawi from the church. After we had a tasty lunch of chicken, nsima, rice, greens, salad and more.
The afternoon was filled with fellowship. A couple of conversations were of particular interest.
One conversation was with the Hussein family.
We helped the large Hussein family by providing shelter for an impoverished family of 12 or 13 who lived in one room. LifeNets built a small home for them on the slopes of Mount Sochi. We visited their home last year on our visit at this time of year.
Now, we are trying to find a way for Palazi, the father to have more income. He makes a little over $40 a month as a security guard. That is such a pittance! He does have some driving skills and we wanted to see if he could become a truck driver.
The other conversation was with Osborn Liyao. He is a retired journalist as of last year. He worked for Malawi Broadcasting. He is a very intelligent and kind man. I always appreciate my conversations with him. He is also a member of the church board.
He told me that there is a looming crisis of starvation in the coming months for Malawi. The central part of the country had a horrible mismatch of rains in the recent growing season and three-fourths of the maize in the area of Zomba has failed.
The month of January is critical for rain and there was none. Neither was there rain in February. (Planting time in Malawi is November.) Now, in March, the rain has come in torrents and army worms are infesting what maize there is.
LifeNets is going to help with the situation by buying up 50 kg sacks of maize for our church families and to help others as well. We will be holding a LifeNets board meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss a plan for the Blantyre congregation and bring in the Lilongwe congregation into the plan as well. Right now 50 kg sacks are going for $8.00. We need to buy up a supply soon and store it at the church location in both Blantyre and Lilongwe.
Many families will NOT have maize, the staple food of the people. As people eat up the current stocks with critical shortages ahead, prices will skyrocket by July.
I also talked with Peter Kawinga who is building a dam to provide a water reservoir. Good Works is helping him with this project.
One more thing!
We presented the IluminAID solar-powered lanterns to every household in the congregation at the end of the day. Bev and Dan Ringo arranged that. Each family picked one up and Bev showed them how to use it. The light is solar-powered and there is a USB port to charge cell phones. This is very important here where power is intermittent or non-existent. Read what we have recently posted on our LifeNets Website at http://lifenets.org/luminaid-solar-powered-lanterns/.
Finally, the day came to an end and we went back to the hotel to dwell on the things that were said and done through the day.
Here is the text of the Dedication speech by Gracious Mpilangwe:
"The U.C.G President, Mr.
The President of LifeNets International, Mrs Beverly Kubik.
All Brethren, both young and old.
I greet you all on this beautiful Sabbath.
It is with great honour and privilege that I stand before you this morning. My humble duty on this auspicious occasion is to warmly welcome our distinguished guests from the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Kubik.
On behalf of the Malawi congregation in general and Blantyre Church in particular, and indeed on my own behalf, I humbly welcome you our esteemed guests to the warm heart of Africa. Although the country is now losing its warmth.
The county is slowly moving in reverse and thus losing its status as the warm heart of Africa due to a number of challenges including social and economic upheaval.
Nevertheless, we are surviving. Above all we are all proud to see you today.
You are not paying us the first visit, but this one is very important and significant in the history of the Blantyre congregation.
Why am I saying all this? Well, something big has shaken us today. A couple of minutes ago, the church witnessed a grand event, the cutting of a ribbon symbolising the official opening of this superb hall and dedication of the hall to our loving God.
The ceremony that you Sir conducted this morning signed a gigantic step the church in Malawi was taking. Worth noting was the presence of the president of LifeNets International whose efforts have resulted in this beautiful church hall.
After several years of twists and turns, the church hall in Blantyre is no longer an illusion, but a reality, YES a dream come true.
The Blantyre congregation is now conducting Sabbath services in a conducive environment.
Thanks to LifeNets International with the leadership of Mrs. Beverly Kubik for its moral and financial support towards the project.
This cycle of events would be incomplete if we don’t mention here yet another structure standing side by side with the church hall.
The structure being talked about is the hostel block. This building is another gift from the LifeNets International.
The hostel will alleviate accommodation challenges during the Feast of Tabernacles among other uses. It is not easy to express our gratitude to Mrs. Kubik over these developments. We have run out of words, but our faces tell it all.
We do realize and appreciate the untiring efforts by Mrs. Kubik to ensure completion of the hall. You had sleepless nights over this huge undertaking. We do not take this for granted, considering where we are coming from.
For our part, we pledge to take care of this magnificent hall and surroundings beside this building, we do also appreciate the other projects that have manifested in various parts of the country under the auspices of LifeNets International.
These include the business centre and the church hall in Lilongwe, health clinics, boreholes and maize mills donated to various brethren.
Turning to education, LifeNets International has been a reliable benefactor. Scores of students ranging from secondary school to tertiary level have been awarded scholarships.
This is no means achievement. How about in times of food shortages? Of course LifeNets has come to our assistance. The level of assistance from LifeNets International is priceless.
The organization has exhausted millions of Kwacha in Malawi. Blantyre Church Hall alone stands out in terms of funds injected so far.
We have every reason therefore to thank you the Kubiks for your selfless attitude and love towards all and sundry.
We have reached this far because of your commitment and determination despite the challenges you face in sourcing funds.
Our prayer is to ask our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ to shower you with more blessings as you undertake more programmes aimed at improving the welfare of God’s people.
Let me also thank the following contractors who used their recommendable skills in construction of these two facilities:
· Mr Blazio D Misomali the one who built this hall
· Difika Hungoli and Abel Mwashembe. The two expatriates from Tanzania who did the roofing of this hall
· Mr Chifundo Chiumbuzo, a member of the church, who did all the electrical works for both the hall and hostels including installation of the solar system
· Mr Davie Chimaliro who did the plumbing works for both the hall and the hostels
· Mr Dalitso Lipenga, the one who built the hostel block
· Mr Joseph Banda from Blantyre City Council, the one who did the landscaping work
· Let me also thank the supervisor Mr Dickson Chiwaya for supervising these two projects
· Daniel Rashid Ringo, who managed the material purchases for the projects as well all activities involving finance during the projects
· Thanks once again to the building committee for their positive contributions to these projects and all those who worked behind the scenes
With these remarks, I once again welcome you our special guests on this special mission.
I thank you all for lending me your ears.
Many thanks indeed."