Last week I had the privilege of sitting in on a Journey Group here at Namikango. These small groups of twelve to fifteen members meet on a semi-regular basis to fellowship together, do Bible studies, pray for each other, and encourage each other in ministry. This particular group is made up of pastors, Bible teachers, and other men in ministry, from all over Malawi. The group has been meeting together for some time now, making the two-day meeting feel familiar and intimate.
The first day we held the group meeting off Namikango’s campus, at a little conference center in Zomba. Taking full advantage of the breezy morning air, we set up camp outside where we spent the morning updating each other on our personal and ministerial victories and setbacks. After a period of prayer and worship, we settled into some Bible studies, with an emphasis on the Sermon on the Mount. Over the next day and a half, we spent a good portion of our time wrestling with the words of Jesus, asking ourselves what heart issues Jesus was highlighting, and how we can practically follow his teachings. To say that the conversation was insightful is an understatement. Each participant brought out new insights and new understandings, and I left the group feeling blessed and refreshed, seeing several familiar passages in a new light.
We also spent some time with Isaiah’s vision of the temple in Isaiah 6, and again, the conversation brought out new insights and ways of thinking. On Sunday, several missionary families who live in Zomba got together for a church service, where we spent time reflecting on Ephesians 4:1-17. It was amazing how that conversation felt like an extension of the week’s journey groups. The desire of Jesus, reflected in Paul’s writings, that we be unified and reconciled with each other, seemed to permeate through all these passages. Paul encourages unity through the bond of peace, so that we can build each other up in love. Jesus, likewise, places such an emphasis on reconciliation and love of neighbor that he claims it is more important to leave church in the middle of the service to be reconciled than it is to continue in your worship.
It was a wonderful weekend full of new teachings and understandings, and I am so grateful that I can be in a place where these conversations take place. I am also grateful for my Malawian brothers and sisters, who bring new understandings to familiar passages, as we all strive to be more like Christ.