Filius and Chowise Jere come from Zambia

Sunday, April 01, 2018
Lilongwe, Central Region, Malawi
As usual, we expect something new and interesting every day on this trip and get it! Today was the most profitable with pieces falling into place in a number of areas. The highlight of the day was Filius and Chosiwe Jere who came over from Zambia by bus. They live in Chipata, not that far away, but in a different country which has its challenges of getting across the border. Last spring when we were here we went this direction. I describe this in a TravelArk blog post at: http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog-entry/victorkubik/20/1491572861 which contains 84 photos.
I’d like to catch up on a few random items that I had notes on but didn’t include in their stories.
Back in Blantyre when we visited with Gracious Mpilangwe, a thief was caught on their property.  Gracious’ two sons caught the thief and held him until the police came.  Thievery is huge in this part of the world.  You need to stay in safe places and hang on to your things. 
Gracious told us that the thief was lucky his boys caught him.  If caught by others, the thief would have been killed.   It can be very violent here.
Also, on the Internet, hang on to your bandwidth!  People here need to be careful about others coming into their Internet account and draining large blocks of bandwidth.  This happened to Brennan and Michala who found out one day that someone got into their account and drained a month’s worth of allocated bandwidth! 
We learned that the number one cause of death in Malawi is traffic accidents.  It doesn’t take long being here seeing how that can be.  I pray continually for protection on the road.  There are funeral homes abound with interesting names.  One common name (maybe it’s a chain) is “Heaven Bound Funerals.”  Another is “Last Stop Shop.”  Another is “True Home.” 
Malawi contains a considerable Muslim population.  From where Michala and Brennan live to the LifeNets Business Centre and church building one passes through a congested Muslim sector that has two prominent mosques, one being the Green Mosque in the photo with this blog entry.  The Muslims still have a practice of paying people to convert people to Islam.   A special bonus is given to those who bring a woman to Islam who will bear more Muslims. 
Last random point.  When we had the Bongo break down on the way to Passover services our five-some had to carry Passover basins and other supplies half a mile.  We as white people were so inefficient.  I had my briefcase slung over one shoulder carrying a stack of basins.  Around mere women walking with much larger loads balanced on their heads.  Our two ladies, Bev and Michala had not mastered that skill while here. 
Back to today.
Filius Jere was supposed to arrive sometime between 2 and 3.  Bev and I went over to Brennan and Michala’s home about noon.  One of the members came by to talk and we had a good talk with him.  He left and we waited to hear from Filius.  One of the difficulties of him communicating with us was that his phone is Zambian and it doesn’t work in Malawi, so we didn’t know how we would hear from him. We waited through 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and now it was almost 5.   
In the meantime, the Hilgen’s and us talked about various things for the church here, including the church budget and the need to sell the current church vehicle and get a better one. We looked on Japanese car website to see what might be available.  Bev and Michala had fun looking at the various vehicles available.  It’s been refreshing to get good Internet while here at the Hilgen’s.  One doesn’t realize how good Internet can be! 
As Brennan was heading out to look at three possible bus stops for Filius, a call came in.  It was Filius!  He arrived about 5 p.m.  We all piled into the Bongo and headed to where he was at: just in front of the mosque. 
We got them to the Ufula Lodge within walking distance of the church hall.  Then we went to dinner at a nice quiet place in town. It’s been a year since we visited with Filius and I feel that I have not kept in touch with him as much as I should have.  He is a passionate man for the Gospel of Jesus Christ
He had a career in broadcast and print journalism.  He is a professional and understands how to talk about things that are useful and relevant to the public. For some time, he had done a Beyond Today broadcast tailored to the Zambian audience. What he did was take BT television programs from YouTube.   He took out about ten minutes out of the program that included the discussion section of the program and replaced it with clarifying Zambian content. 
He received good results and built the Chipata church around it. 
Filius told us that his wife’s name Chosiwe meant “remnant.” 
He thanked us for the 10 seater van that Good Works had bought for the Chipata church. 
Filius Jere is a true evangelist of God.  That is his passion.  He does it with humility and submission.
Who is Filius?
In 1965 he became aware of our teachings when he still lived in Zimbabwe and attended a Roman Catholic secondary school.  One of the lecturers from the United States was a member of the Worldwide Church of God.  He brought the Plain Truth magazine with him and introduced it to Filius and others.  Filius started his own subscription to the Plain Truth shortly thereafter, but it stopped in 1979. He was far away from any congregation.
He made contact again with the church in 1987 through Wilson Nkhoma.  It wasn’t until 2013, however, that he was baptized. This was done by Wilson Nkhoma. Filius traveled to Lusaka, quite a distance away, to church in 2012.  He was baptized in Chipata where there was a challenge to find a place with enough water to do so.
He was ordained as a deacon in the United Church of God three years ago. He oversees the Chipata congregation that ranges in attendance form 25-42.  He has also established smaller groups in outlying towns.
·       Lundazi  9 people
·       Luangwa Game Park area 5 people
·       Petauke 6 people (towards west)
·       Chiwoko 21 people
This last group combined with us last year when we went to Chipata.
He has five grown children with the youngest daughter Mainess being 25 years old who was baptized by Derrick Pringle.
Filius has had a continuous 36-year career as a television and radio journalist that included assignments in the Netherlands. He is now retired, but still does a program three times a week on Conservation Farming (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
Filius is passionate about conservation farming and is a known voice of radio journalism.   His wife Chosiwe told him that if he was known and persuasive about farming, how about doing it for Jesus Christ?! 
So he did.
On his own, he downloaded YouTube videos of the Beyond Today telecast.  The program’s length is a bit more than 28 minutes.  He reduced it to 20 minutes by taking out the discussion section at the end and “Zambianizing” it.  He made the program relevant to the Zambian community as a journalist. He is keen on what kept people listening. 
Funders, Derrick Pringle and Major Talama helped keep the program going.  But, the funding ran out and Filius didn’t ask for more and the program has been dormant for about a year—which shouldn’t have happened. But, now it will be back on the air!  We want the program, the audio BT program to go back on radio and then on TV here with Filius’ help.  The radio station that we want for us has a potential audience of 800,000 people and streams its programming on www.breeezefmchipata.com.  The program will be aired twice a week Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a. m.  The Friday evening program will be the local language version while the Sunday program will be all English.  We are working on pricing for a year-long contract.
Along with the churches that Filius has established, he has been very sensitive about helping the brethren better themselves and improve their farming practices. You can read various accounts on the LifeNets website about what he’s done.  Please read about it here to get more background: http://lifenets.org/filius-jere-chipata-zambia/
Conservation Farming
Filius has been passionate about the benefits of conservation farming.  The principle is to make a planting area where the moisture will be held and not run off.
A hole is dug for where for four seeds of maize (eight if for ground nuts) will be planted. No fertilizer or irrigation is needed.  The hole is filled with compost which holds moisture.  The hard part is digging all the holes in the hard soil, but the holes are already dug for the coming years.  When rains come, it does not run off… it stays in the conservation hole.   That is the principal and one that works.
Filius even planted test plots side by side.  One conventional and one conservation. The conservation plot was FAR more robust than the conventional one.  In this year of drought, Filius has been able to have good crops.  In large parts of Zambia the maize crop has failed. Totally.  
What an enjoyable evening we had talking with Filius, and being with his wife Chosiwe and the Hilgens.
Tomorrow promises to bring more excitement!
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Comments

GregRandi Hilgen
2018-04-08

THANKS for update and so nice to see B & M!!

2018-12-15