It happened so suddenly. One minute we drove in the middle of the road through puddles left from yesterday’s rain. The next thing we knew, we slid sideways and stuck a tire’s depth in the muddy ravine beside the road. It’s hard not to feel panicked as my passenger’s side of the car leans ever closer to the muck. Whether Greg tries to drive forwards or backwards, we just stick deeper in our rut. Mud spews everywhere, and Greg worries that the growing crowd of onlookers will not only get splattered, but might be at risk if the car suddenly lurches out. But it’s going nowhere. And suddenly the locals multiply – dozens of people arguing over who will help us and how much we will pay them. We’re three hours from home, and our friends, the local pastors who could control this type of crowd, are not picking up their phones. Their house is less than a mile away, so I ease open my door and stretch across the side of the ravine toward dry ground. I drag one of my visiting residents with me. He already ran this morning, but he jogs along the village road with me anyway, and I’m grateful for the backup. He holds my phone as I try to keep my skirt over my knees while I run. Surely the villagers have never seen anything like this before – a white woman running down a road which rarely sees cars. I’m wearing a patterned skirt that the pastor’s wife made for me almost three years ago when we attended the opening of their Nazarene church in this village. The church is now hundreds strong and more churches are springing up in this area traditionally known for thievery and witchcraft. The pastors, who once had to convince the community to let them build a church by promising to build a well, are now community leaders. We arrive breathless at their house, and they come out to help us immediately. They divide the crowd and select the few to help us and negotiate a reward we can pay. We would have been in trouble without them and their influence. We thank them, admire them, and hope that people will trust us like that someday. I look at our car, pulled from the mud but covered in muck and splatters. An hour ago, Greg’s student in that village spent over an hour washing it until it sparkled. He was with us pulling it out. He saw it completely messed. I am embarrassed for him to see his work of love devastated, and I grieve for it. My pastor friend smiles at me. “That’s Ministry” he says. We pray that we can be as faithful, patient, and gracious as him in the days and years to come as we strive to be partners in this sometimes messy ministry.
This month, please join us in prayer for:
- The people of Malawi who are suffering from a particularly difficult hunger season, as it is the furthest time from harvest
- Safe travels as we plan to go to Greece for a Medical Education conference, or peace if plans must be cancelled due to Corona Virus
Thank you for your prayers and support, Greg and Christina