Sammy Wanyonyi gives the evangelistic message in
Lilongwe, Malawi on Sunday evening.
Finally, God crowned our efforts with breakthrough as several thousands of people flocked onto the local soccer field in Area 25 of Malawi's Capital Lilongwe, to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Several hundreds responded to the call of Salvation. Now we are praying and looking forward to a great harvest of souls on the closing night of the Festival here tomorrow, Wednesday night. Until then, it had been a tough week, to say the least.
On the openning night of the events last Wednesday September 1st, it felt frustrating. The rally was scheduled to start too late in the night. The sun sets by 6:00 PM here. But the events started around 7:30 PM. In a country where power is unreliable, it was not surprising that half-way through the program we lost power. The few hundred people that had gathered began to scatter in the dark. By the time my friend Nick Hall got up to speak, we barely had a a hundred and fifty people on the grounds. Even so God moved in response to our prayer as I counted 87 people who came forward to receive Christ.
The rest of the days seemed to be moving from one frustration to the next. We were under resourced, underfunded, and everything showed.Twice on Thursday I preached without a sound system in a dusty street. At the end of the message, I had lost my voice and was coughing too much phloem. I had to take Friday off from ministry to rest and recuperate. As Nick continued with the ministry Friday however, several hundred more people gave their lives to Christ in this poor neighborhood of Lilongwe.
Our hosts had planned a leadership Seminar for Saturday morning. We were told there would be about 200 local leaders there. The meeting was scheduled to start at 8:00AM. But by 10:00 AM, only twenty people were there. And that was all the people that showed up. We were however, faithful to the mission of Christ and gave it all we had.
The youth rally scheduled for Saturday afternoon during which Nick was to speak to the young people was a fiasco. It was under-advertised. And then the real monkey in the wrench...there was a division one soccer match taking place on the same grounds reserved for the youth rally. As a final resort and after the local pastors negotiating back and forth, the match organizers allowed us to preach to the soccer audience during the half-time break. And so we rolled our truck onto the field as music blurred.
On Sunday, Nick Hall stepped up and challenged the audience of
several thousands to listen carefully to the invitation.
Some of the audience of about a couple thousand soccer spectators wasn't very appreciative as Nick proclaimed Christ during the 10 minute break. Thankfully they had no choice. But as proof that God is always at work, a few individuals responded to the call for Salvation. One young man testified later, "I came to the field but did not arrive for the soccer match. God wanted me to know Jesus."
As we finished and drove off the field, the sound speakers began to billow with smoke. Quite a spectacle, to say the least. We felt like great fools for Jesus. A seed had been, nonetheless, planted. Deeply planted in the hearts of these soccer lovers, whose fruit we will one day see when we meet our Lord.
We had all but given up Saturday night wondering if this mission could be salvaged and if we could justify the expenses of traveling to Malawi. Then we prayed. We also asked a few others of our family and friends to pray. When I stood to speak at one church on Sunday morning to an audience of about 100, I felt a lift in my spirit. I could feel the anointing of God upon me. I knew that this was a day with a difference. I was expectant of great things again. At that service when I made the altar call, about 14 people responded to place their faith in Jesus Christ including a visiting senior government official.
Then the real breakthrough came this evening when we walked back onto the same soccer field we were yesterday. There was no soccer match, but several hundred people had already gathered awaiting the rally to start.
As the afternoon progressed, we estimated about 4000 people were within the grounds perimeter. Several hundred others followed the events from the peripheries. The local pastors estimated about 6-7000 total. A local popular artist warmed them up with great local heats. Nick stepped up to challenge the audience to listen carefully to the invitation.
Then I walked on to the stage to proclaim the message of hope and repentance through Christ. I spoke of God being the God of second chances and wants to forgive our sins. Throughout the week, we have heard from the locals how they are oppressed and so fearful of the witchdoctors and witchcraft.
|More than half of the audience prayed to receive Christ as personal Savior|
Then I prayed. I felt vulnerable. I wondered if the message meant anything to any of them. I spoke quietly to the Holy Spirit and asked Him to speak to their hearts. I felt assured. Then I made an altarcall. Half of the audience raised their hands.
I clarified that this was a call only for those needing Salvation because they do not know God as yet. I expected some hands to go down. Instead more hands went up. I repeated the same, emphasizing that only those needing Jesus' forgiveness ought to lift their hands. Even more hands went up.
God was touching lives. God was changing eternities of hundreds of Malawians.
There wasn't room at the altar for them. I asked them to pray with me from whichever place they were standing. Hundreds of hands were outstretched all over the field. I prayed with them. They repeated after my translater Moses in Chechewa, Malawi's national language.
At one corner at the very back of the field, an old man in his seventies prayed. At the very front next to the podium, several hundred young kids prayed. In the middle of the crowd, several dozens of teenagers prayed. God was moving. God was touching lives. God was changing the eternities of hundreds of Malawians.
I asked them to move to the left of the podium to meet with counselors. Hundreds of them did. The whole field shifted. God was moving. In groups they met with counselors who gave them growth aids. They were too many for the 200 hundred trained counselors.
In Groups of 10 or more, new believers met with a trained
counselor. They gave them contact info for follow-up.
In groups of 8-10, they met with a counselor. A couple hundred kids who had prayed surrounded a team of missionaries visiting from Belgium. Several hundred adults counselled with Malawian counselors drawn from several churches in the neighborhood. They got their names, their addresses, and their phone numbers. They prayed with each of them.
After I left the stage, several kids and adults surrounded me. They wanted prayer. They lined up one after another. Four of them were hard of hearing and wanted God to restore their hearing. I felt great compassion. I have never prayed for so many deaf kids in one day in my life. Then one, about eight years old, asked to be prayed for her tummy. She had both her palms touching both sides of her prodruding tummy as though she were a pregnant woman. She said she felt pain. My guess is she has worms.
Another one about seven years old said he had malaria. A mother walked to me with two of her kids aged 5 and 7 and requested I lay hands and pray for them because she suspected they are being embodied by witches at night. It is a strange phenomena but it is the story here in the slums of Lilongwe as we have cris-crossed the streets. On and on they requested for prayer. May the Lord hear and answer them. May He grand them healing.
Continue to pray for the remaining three days of ministry here in Malawi. Pray that many more will come to Christ especially at the closing rally on Wednesday afternoon. Pray for our team to remain encouraged and united in faith. Pray also for us here at SWIM Ministries as we are still in need of some funds to cover our overall ministry here in Africa that moves next to Kenya. We are still in need of $ 8,475. My wife Suzanne and son Jr. travel Wednesday to join me for the weekend ministry at Nairobi Pentecostal Church, Valley Road, Kenya. WHEN WE PRAY, GOD MOVES! PRAY!
Sammy, what an incredible story!! So thankful for you and your ministry. Keep changing the world!ReplyDelete
God is so good. Thank you for persisting through the tough times until you reached the breakthrough that God wanted for those dear people. Our family would love to help you. I will talk to Greg and see what we can do.ReplyDelete
May God continue to bless you and uphold you~
In His time,not ours. Even for those days that had the limited attendance we don't know how God will use your words to those who attended. Just one person coming to Him can be used in great ways to grow the Kingdom. Thanks Sammy for answering His call.ReplyDelete
I remember you traveling in a truck with young people, singing Chichewa songs, ready to preach the Word with power in Lilonwe, Malawi. I was so blessed with your messages. Your coming to preach at my local church where 19 people gave their lives to Christ was a great thing to me. I pray the the Spirit of the Living God will continue ministering and using you. I hope you are recovering from all the dust and the noise...... yours in christ, PhiriReplyDelete
Brother Phiri, thank you so much. We had so much fan working for the Kingdom in Malawi. It was an honor to minister at your church that Sunday morning. It marked a moment of great lift for me and for the team. May the Lord preserve the harvest that was realized.ReplyDelete