Dedication of another UCG building today

Saturday, March 31, 2018
Lilongwe, Central Region, Malawi
Every day is a day of adventure and awe here in Africa. Today was no exception. Today we dedicated the Lilongwe United Church of God building that has been in the planning, construction and completion for the past four years.  Without hesitation, I say the person most responsible for making this a reality is my wife Bev who managed the project from the United States and made sure that everything was in place. 
We dealt with architects, contractors, craftsmen, laborers, brethren and accountants.  It was a project that involved financing primarily from LifeNets and Good Works. It started with the purchase of a house on a property.  The walls inside of the house were removed to create our first hall.  Then, we needed to build a security wall around the property. Theft is a way of life and if you want to keep something, you must secure it.  So, the first thing we did was have the security wall built. Then we expanded the original home into the hall that we have now.  We were so happy to be here for this special event to celebrate the completion and to dedicate the building to God, just as we had done the larger one in Blantyre one week ago.   Great satisfaction!  Now, the two congregations have a home. Already we have had several people come asking about the Church and what we do. Some have become members too, notably one of the security guards for the building started attending and has become part of the congregation!
We went to church early in the process of getting everyone there who was involved.  Today there was a good attendance of 83 people. 
Today is a Holy Day. Cephas Chapamba gave the sermonette in which he introduced the offering, which is only done in services on the seven annual holy days.  It was an excellent sermonette about living by faith.  There was a great focus on the subject. 
Then I gave a sermon about the difference between First and Second Corinthians.  In the first letter the apostle Paul chided the people for various congregational faults, not the least which was sexual immorality, abuse of the Passover, sectarianism and generally worldly behavior. Paul was concerned about what reaction he would receive with such a strong corrective letter.  
He was pleased with the result which was people taking to heart with what he said. A meaningful change came about and the church repented. They carefully made amends. So much so that Paul told them they became a recommendation to others of Christianity. They became as a “Living Letter” of recommendation penned by the Holy Spirit on the hearts of the people.  It’s quite a story and one that has not so subtle parallels and relevance to matters here.
After the sermon, we commenced with the ribbon cutting to the hall, unveiling the plaque and dedication message which I gave from I Kings 8 which was Solomon’s dedication of the first permanent Jerusalem Temple.  Solomon first blessed the congregation, which is the more important Temple of God. He then prayed for God’s presence in the Temple and the inspiration to the scripture I Kings 8:29 on the plaque. Then Solomon prayed that the Temple become an interest to the “foreigner” which I equated as a tool of evangelism to those outside of us.  Finally, Solomon dedicates the building to God.   It’s a remarkable story about the house of God and its purpose.  I thanked the various people for their special involvement in this project.  And thanks to the outside contractor for much of the interior work, Kapete, who was just recently killed in a car accident. 
After the dedication, we had a short break followed by a question and answer Bible Study with Brennan and I.  I spoke to the people about the new hall, their responsibility to make sure that it was kept clean and that windows always be clear and clean.  I told them that this was THEIR place to worship God and that they were responsible for its upkeep.
I told them how important regular attendance was for church and the importance of tithing and participating in the working of the local congregation. 
We talked some about LifeNets and what it has done to help. I also told them that we were going to uphold much stricter qualification standards for any kind of aid. We actually want to do more public projects such as building boreholes that benefit communities. LifeNets has been very effective in doing such.  On scholarships, we are cutting back to those who we believe will get degrees to get good jobs to better their lives and those whose character is impeccable.  I was quite forthright and straight with them in my remarks.
I also upheld Brennan Hilgen as the Ministerial Trainee under pastor Lewis VanAusdle in the management of the congregation and that he would continue on the themes that we brought up today.  Brennan and Michala have already bonded with these people for the past 14 months and are respected by them.  The respect comes from both Brennan's and Michala’s sincere love, devotion and care of the people. 
Also, I upheld the service of deacons Haiton Thungula and Cephas Chapamba who have been the pillars of this congregation since 2011, when we had to cope with a few people who left us, but that damage has long been healed.  
There were a few Bible questions and other miscellaneous topics that came up.
After the Bible Study Beverly gave out 32 solar lanterns to the congregation; one for each head of household.  Each head of household formed a line and received a light. Cephas and Haiton took record of the families and marked initials on the lantern. Then, Beverly explained how the lanterns worked.
Then there was more fellowshipping and talking to individuals. Finally, we went back to the hotel.  We also went out to an Indian restaurant in Lilongwe with the Hilgen’s. 
Tomorrow afternoon Filius Jere will arrive here from Chipata, Zambia. He cares for the church there. We look forward to seeing him and his wife again.  Last year at this time we visited him in Chipata.  
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Comments

Barbara H. Baskin
2018-04-01

I have that plant! Not sure it's going to make it!

GregRandi Hilgen
2018-04-08

THANKS for the update and pictures!

2018-08-21