Small-town East Texas church sees massive gospel response in Malawi

Tens of thousands of Malawians heard the gospel of Jesus Christ during a mission trip in which churches from Frankston, Town Bluff, and Eufaula, Ala., partnered. SUBMITTED PHOTO

FRANKSTON—Hilltop Baptist Church, in cooperation with Circle J Ministries International, recently completed a two-week mission trip to Mzuzu, Malawi. The team left the U.S. on May 29 and returned June 11.

Four members of Hilltop—Gordon Folmar, Dianne Burgamy, Tracy Jinkins, and pastor Randall Jinkins—were joined by three members of Fairview Baptist Church of Town Bluff (Texas): Malinda Patton, Jill Loar, and pastor Scott Loar. Pastor Dr. Richard Harvey of Cross Baptist Church of Eufaula, Ala., was also on the trip.

The first week of the trip was spent with each man visiting three schools every morning, where they preached the gospel to students and gave an invitation. These schools included students from a very young age through high school. Pastor Jinkins said there was an amazing response to the gospel by both students and teachers.

After the preaching, each school was presented two Bibles for the school library and two soccer balls, (what they call footballs), for the school’s sports program. Both the Bibles and balls were happily received and greatly appreciated. The Bibles will be used in class to help teach students English. Most secondary schools teach exclusively in English.

The men also encouraged the headmasters of the schools to start Bible Clubs in their schools.  Assistance from local pastors and church members was offered to help with Bible Clubs. If the school already had a Bible Club, the same assistance was offered to help with both manpower and materials for study. The women who went on this trip spent their mornings conducting women’s conferences in the local churches where they shared discipleship lessons, testimonies, and fellowship. These conferences were also well received and friendship were made that will last a lifetime.

Every evening, each man made his way back out into the rural areas around Mzuzu for a showing of the Jesus Film or the film, “Magdelana.” The ladies accompanied the men to these showings. The teams would set up the equipment and play music until it got dark and then begin the film. There were crowds of up to 600 people who would come out of the bush to see the film. There was, conservatively, a 65% positive response to the gospel from the adults in attendance. Contact information was gathered from those making decisions to be used in follow-up.

On Saturday, the team went to the Mzuzu Prison, where they were allowed to preach the gospel to both the male and female inmates. Harvey brought the message. The team also presented gifts of four Bibles and four soccer balls to the prison. Each prison has a football team and they travel from prison to prison playing matches against each other.

Later that day, the group sponsored a football/netball bonanza in a rural area near Nkhata Bay with over 1,000 in attendance. Two local teams of boys competed in the football match and two team of girls competed in the netball match for a cash prize. During halftime of the football match, Pastor Loar preached the gospel and there was a tremendous response.

On Sunday, each man preached in a local church. These churches were, generally, the churches that provided interpreters for the trip. Everyone enjoyed the worship services tremendously.

On Monday, the team took a little time off to visit the Vwassi Game Reserve. It was a good time to relax a little before finishing the trip. The team saw elephants, hippos, monkeys, baboons, and impala. It is sad but the only place in Malawi you can see these animals is in these government reserves, Pastor Jinkins said. There are very few animals outside these protected areas because the population considers them food.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at two more prisons. Tuesday, the team visited the prison at Nkhata Bay, where Pastor Loar brought the message. Wednesday, the team visited the prison at Rhumphi, where Harvey brought the message. Bibles, soccer balls, and bales of sugar were presented as gifts to the prisons.

Thursday began the long drive back to Lilongwe. Mzuzu is only accessible by car, as the airport has fallen into disrepair. A new airport is being planned, but currently the only way to get there is a six-hour car ride. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, the new airport will be constructed making this area much more accessible.

Conservatively, over 20,000 people responded positively to the gospel. That is, over 20,000 people listened to the gospel preached and, during an invitation, raised their hands and prayed the sinner’s prayer.

“The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few,” Pastor Jinkins said.

Mzuzu is just one area where Circle J Ministries and these churches have ministered in Malawi. There are more than 20 other areas, towns, and cities where the same work needs to be done.

“If your church does not have an international mission presence, we pray that you would consider a trip to Malawi,” Pastor Jinkins said. “Any church is welcome to go on one of these trips with us.  Should your church want to do a trip on their own, Circle J Ministries would be happy to provide the contacts and logistical support to get you started.”

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