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,