The mission to Malawi gave me two opportunities to walk in the footsteps of David Livingstone the great missionary and explorer.
Many years ago I did a TV add in which I played David Livingstone. It was for Rolux Magnum. Stanley and I met up in the middle of Africa cutting our way through the tall grass with lawn mowers! When Stanley uttered his famous greeting, ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’ I answered, ‘No, Rolux Magnum!’ which was repeated with a chorus of African voices in song. You can still find the ad on Youtube today. But it turned out to be prophetic in a strange kind of way: today I am making my way through Africa and I often walk in Livingstone’s footsteps as a missionary!
Livingstone almost single-handedly transformed the heathen nation of Malawi into a Christian nation. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever he went. He was invited from Scotland by Robert Moffat who built a mission station in Kuruman.
Moffat used Mark 10:29, 30 to persuade Livingstone: ‘Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brother or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the gospel’s who shall not receive a hundred fold now in this time houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions b- and in the age to come eternal life.’
I knew the Moffat family very well. They were descendants from the original couple. Robbie Moffat and I often played Jazz together.
When I went to minister in Kuruman I prayed under the Livingstone Tree where Livingstone asked Mary Moffat the daughter of Robert Moffat to marry him. On his first excursion into the bush he was mauled by a lion and carried back to the camp where Mary nursed him back to health.
I also lay on the dung floor in the chapel and prayed to God to give me the Holy Spirit in the same measure that Moffat and Livingstone had in order to reach the nations of the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom.
In Malawi I went to Nkhota-kota where there is another Livingstone Tree where a commemorative plaque recalls the visit of Livingstone in 1863 to that place before he set sail across the great lake of Malawi to meet one of the chiefs. The slave trade post of the Muslims is nearby where they sold African slaves to the European traders.
I also went to Bandawe where the first church in Malawi was established by Livingstone. Dr. and Mrs. Laws built the building after him in 1881. I went inside that old church and imagined what it must have been like in those days. A few hundred yards from the church is a sign post reading: ‘missionary graveyard’. We followed the sign and came upon the graveyard near the coastline of Lake Malawi, where many of the young missionaries that came over to help Livingstone, died of the dreaded disease, Malaria. I wrote down some of their names, Matthews, McMinn, Sophia Aitken, Alfred Fletcher, Rev J Alexander Bain who died at the age of 31 after only 6 years of service on the African mission field, James Sutherland (26), Algernon Irons (31), James Edward Frazer (25), M. Schouten, M. Brink and a few unknown graves. There are also graves of babies who died of Malaria.
I stood there for a long time in the setting sun and saluted those people who gave their lives to establish the Kingdom of God in Africa. They did not die in vain. We are continuing the work they began. I thought if Jeremy Irons the famous actor that starred in ‘The Mission’ with Robert de Niro was related to the Algernon Irons who died in Bandawe. Perhaps if I write to him and tell him it might mean something to him.
Livingstone moved his Head Quarters to Khondowe in 1894 that was also known as Livingstonia. It was high up on the mountain side, above the mosquitoes, away from Malaria.
He first called Bandawe, Banda’s way, because so many people had the name Banda. Eventually it became Bandawe.
I also visited the mausoleum of Dr. Kenneth Hastings Banda in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. He is seen as the founder and father of the Malawi nation. He trained in Zimbabwe and worked in a gold mine in Johannesburg before studying in both the USA and UK to become a medical doctor. He was arrested in Gweru, Zimbabwe for voicing grievances against the British administration and released a few years later. He was appointed Prime Minister of Malawi in 1963 and became the first President in 1966 and remained President for 31 years. He died of pneumonia in Garden City Clinic in Johannesburg. He developed sugar production, hybrid electricity power, built the Kamuzu International Airport and the University of Malawi. His four cornerstones for rulership was unity, royalty, obedience and discipline. They hailed him as the Lion of Malawi, the King of Malawi and even called him Messiah of Malawi.
The current President is Mrs. Joyce Banda (not related to Hastings Banda) whose husband was shot dead by British government forces.
In Nkhatabay I held a series of meetings for Pastor Peter Chirwa who invited me after our house help Daniel told him about me. Daniel said, ‘Andre is a man that loves God and goes to many nations.’
Fifty six churches were represented at the meetings. At the end of the meetings the general secretary of the churches thanked me: ‘You have opened our eyes and brought us back to God and back to the Bible. We did not realise how far we have slipped away from God and the Bible by practicing religion. We as pastors are ready to work with you!’
I preached and taught on a variety of subjects, spiritual as well as practical. People were ministered to for healing and miracles.
A great door has opened in Malawi although there are many dangers such as the Tsetse fly and Malaria, poisonous snakes, crocodiles in the lake. But God helped me and I did not have one single mosquito bite.
Joshua the son of Peter Chirwa wrote to me and said, ‘we are really blessed that you came to us in Malawi. You have changed the way we think.’
I stayed with a Dutch couple in Mbambe Bay. They were so ‘gezellig’ and friendly and offered to help us in our mission by providing transport and helping with printing.
As always the cost of such a mission is beyond what we budgeted for. Fuel is very expensive in Malawi as they have to import it. The ticket to Malawi is the same price as flying twice to London and back. But the results make the price and the effort worthwhile.
Nola had many words of prophecy about Malawi and one of them was that there is a vacuum to fill. She also prophesied that God would raise up a couple that will rule Malawi well after a time of hardship.
The Youth of Malawi invited Apostle Aje to be the guest speaker at their youth conference after watching him on DVD.
They are prepared to translate our Miracle Bible College material into Chichewa, the national language. This will be a great task but it will help to spread the Reformation in Malawi. Pray for this developing nation that God will send forth labourers into this field.
Apostle Andre Pelser