CHIYEMBEKEZO: Hope Reimagined

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Today, hundreds and hundreds of people are gathered in Malawi to celebrate the life of a remarkable leader, pastor, father, and friend.

Our hearts are in Malawi with them and our souls long to hug those we love who are also hurting. To lose someone as impactful and full of life as Pastor Phiri is both painful and shocking. However, we KNOW what he would be telling us:

PRAISE JESUS! 

Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus. 

If ever there was a man who exemplified 1 Thessalonians 5 Pastor Phiri did. His face shone with the pure and genuine JOY he received from loving the Lord and accepting Jesus' grace and love. 


Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

Pastor Phiri was constantly striving to live out the Good News that he knew and believed in his heart. The words of Christ were lived out through him and the messages of the Bible were strengthen by his living testimony of ACTION in response to love.

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To know Pastor Phiri meant to have experienced the power of prayer. He sat in the presence of the Lord and BOLDLY proclaimed the power he knew was his because of his place in God's kingdom. 

He was a servant-hearted leader. He served those God placed before him without wavering. He lived in a tent for YEARS to assure the orphans in his care had a home instead and were well cared for.

He gave his all for those around him because he knew a truth, THE truth...Christ had already given his all for each person and to love Christ meant to embody that as best he could each day. 

Our children, at the Grace Center, were able to witness a loving father, faithful servant, humble man, and strong leader. They saw how passionately he loved the Lord and knew that he loved them from that same place of passion and compassion. 

To know Abusa also meant to witness JOY in worship. He loved to laugh and praise the Lord. He lived fully and his laugh will never be forgotten. There is balance in life between embracing the moment and planning for the future and he walked that line beautifully! 

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As we take time to grieve today just like our friends in Africa are doing, let's not forget the message of HOPE Pastor Phiri preached. He had HOPE in life ever-lasting. He had HOPE in God's provision. He had HOPE in God's timing. He had HOPE only found in the Lord! 

He knew God had great plans to prosper his community and his children. He saw with eyes of faith and dreamed with a heart set on eternity. 

Let's pray and praise today in his honor. Let's cry and mourn in his honor. Let's live boldly today in his honor. Most of all: Let's commit today, and always, to sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ has come to Earth, lived, and died for us to save us from our sins and provide for us a life everlasting with our Father. 


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If you wish to honor Pastor Phiri's memory with a memorial gift please feel free to do so. We are praying. Karen and the team are in Malawi seeking where to focus funds raised in memorial of Pastor Phiri to honor the memory of our treasured leader and friend. 

 

 

Posted on May 5, 2018 .

Urgent Prayer Need & News:

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Today, as so many of us  gather for the worship of our Sovereign Lord, we come to you with deep sadness. Pastor Phiri has passed away. News from Malawi came early this morning that Abusa Phiri was taken to Salima Central Hospital where he died at 11am Malawi time. Details of the events are still unfolding but we wanted to share the news with you as soon as we heard. 

As the Board of Directors, we are in shock and mourning on the passing of our brother and co-laborer in the Gospel. As we write, travel plans are underway for several Board members to leave for Malawi to be present for his funeral. The most important gift we can give to Grace Alliance at this time is our presence. Next, we can give our mourning. Grieving is such an appropriate human reaction to the loss of a loved one. For many of us, Pastor Phiri was a role model for “Christ-likeness.” He embodied a life well lived on behalf of others. His loss will be felt by so many on two continents.  

In the hours and days ahead, we as a Board ask everyone to stop and pray for the staff of Grace Alliance and for the children at the Grace Centre. We are certain that this shocking news is spreading across the the Churches and villages throughout the Salima region of Malawi. We ask specifically that you pray for these spiritual needs. 

First, that the children at the Grace Centre, who saw Abusa as their spiritual-father will immediately be comforted by their Heavenly Father. May His Spirit wrap His arms of Grace and Strength around them creating a community of divine comfort. Shalom, true peace is found within the Presence of the Father.

Second, would you pray for wisdom and discernment as next steps are discussed. Abusa was a larger than life figure. His absence will be felt on many levels. But just as Moses passed away and was replaced by Joshua…and just as Elijah was supplanted by Elisha; the anointing passed from one man to another. This transition does not take the Lord by surprise. He has us all firmly grasped in His hand. We merely need to reach out and feel His pulse so our hearts once again will beat in perfect harmony with His. 

Third, would you pause to give thanks for the impact this man has had on so many. God dwells in the praises of His people. Remember, children have been rescued. Hungry are fed daily. Leaders have been called and discipled in the faith. Churches have been planted. Communities have been transformed in Jesus’ name. Thanks be to God that for many years we have been blessed to walk alongside and witness a man such as Pastor Phiri.

Finally, trust. If there is anything Pastor Phiri would say to us this very day it would be to live as if Christ is still on the throne. Therefore, we should boldly serve Malawi with Christ as our King and Abusa as a earthly model. We plan on all our Summer Mission Teams going out as planned. We will practice the Incarnational ministry of Abusa by sitting with the Grace Centre children and loving each one just as he loved them. The medical team will heal in Jesus’ name, just as dreamed by Pastor Phiri. We are convinced that allowing any of the ministries of Grace Alliance to atrophy in these days of mourning would not be honoring to the memory and legacy of Pastor Phiri. 

Friends, in the days ahead we will keep you informed of the news and needs of Circle of Hope and Grace Alliance.  

May I close with this prayer from the Apostle Paul to his beloved church at Ephesus. Today, imagine Paul directing his prayer to our broken hearts and the lives of our brothers and sisters in Malawi:

 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

 

On behalf of the board,

Dave Smith

Posted on April 29, 2018 .

Beans: A True Story

Hey yall, Kaitlyn here.  I have something I need to confess. I despise beans. Well, kind of. It's a long story...you ready?

I have NEVER liked beans. As a small child, I would eat virtually any food my parents served me but strongly disliked beans (and tomatoes but that's another story). I would eat mussels, quiché, truly anything but NOT beans. 

Malawi cured my bean hatred. 

How, you ask? Jesus healed my heart and beans ended up in my mouth. 


I know it sounds crazy but it is true. You see, growing up my family had it's ups and downs financially but never, ever did I worry about my next meal. Not once. It was easy to try beans and say no thanks because I knew I would have another option at my next meal. 

When I ate my first meal surrounded by Malawians who were truly *EXCITED* to have beans, nsima, and greens for lunch my heart crumbled. How in the world could I say no to something that was such a luxury for them?

How blessed had I been to have grown up with the luxury of no. 

 2012: These precious little boys were some of the first people I ate beans with in Malawi. Truly, any meal with them is a blessing! 

2012: These precious little boys were some of the first people I ate beans with in Malawi. Truly, any meal with them is a blessing! 

I learned a valuable lesson in humility and hunger that day: I knew no hunger but my heart learned true and deep love for those who do. Jesus showed me love and compassion that made those beans practically fly into my mouth (with a healthy serving of nali of course). 

I made beans for my family this week. I am not going to lie, I still always preferring something else instead but if you serve me beans I no long shrink back...I can eat them with a smile. I learned, in a new way, that the value of a food is the sustenance and blessings it brings

Right now, we are raising money for our school lunch program for COH. We need to purchase 42,172 pounds of beans.
WOAH. 
I know, that sounds like a lot of beans. 

Let's think of it this way, those are 42,172 pounds of blessings.

  • 42,172 Moments without hunger.
  • 42,172 Times children will not go to bed starving.
  • 42,172 Meals families will not have to worry about.
  • 42,172 Moments where sustenance is given and JESUS is revealed. 

Let's not get bogged down in the size of this number. Let's take smaller bites and donate what we can, when we can. Pray about it with me today and donate as God prompts you...let's feed his children! 

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Posted on April 21, 2018 .

Cool Beans! Time to get cooking!

It's that time again...time to purchase beans! 


Beans are an essential food for our kids at the Grace Center and provide tons of needed nutrients to their daily diets while keeping costs low and kiddos fed! 

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School lunches are a way we show Jesus' love and heart for our community. We see GREAT need and hunger daily! Since we have begun serving TWO hot meals to our children each day, a portion of the burden has been lifted for the families sending their students to us.

Currently, we need to raise $15,000 for school lunches/ bean purchases.
Wait! Don't panic! We know NO number is too big for God to provide...he has before and he will again! He takes GOOD care his children! 
 

To help, let's break it down into a number that's easier to chew. (Haha, get it?) 

We need 42,172 pounds of beans.
That is $15,000 of beans. 
What this means:
BEANS ARE ONLY 35 CENTS PER POUND! 

More good news? We are already on our way!

Currently, our school lunch thermometer looks like this:

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We are excited to watch it jump higher and higher over the next several days. We KNOW it will happen because we have BEAN there and done that before and our COH community has always come through for our children! 

Help us by donating to the school lunches today and don't forget to only bite off what you can chew...$0.35 will donate an entire pound! Yay! 

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Posted on April 19, 2018 .