Evangelist Craig Hobbs
2014 FOFM Africa Trip
“Oh Jesus, fill me with your love now, and I beseech you accept me, and use me a little for your glory. I have done nothing for you yet, and I would like to do something.” (the words of David Livingstone after nearly 20 years of sacrifice and serving the Lord in Africa in the mid-1800s.)
It is not possible to share enough in one brief report to give a real taste of what we have seen God do in these past few weeks in Africa. We will share a few of the events and give a statistical report, but the countless wonders will be shared more thoroughly in days to come and on our website.
After landing in the capital city of Lilongwe, Malawi, we made our way one and one half hours northeast to the Dowa district and the Hope House orphanages. While most of the team rested from the long flight, Craig, Dalitso, and two other Malawian team members joined one from the Hope House staff to travel the muddy paths to Makendhama village to show the Jesus film and preach. However, in transit over the rough and dangerous path, part of the equipment was jarred out of the vehicle and lost. With no way to show the film or utilize the sound system, Craig and Dalitso preached. God took their voices throughout the village and through the hills, and hundreds came to hear and many surrendered their lives to Christ. (After replacing the lost equipment to use on the rest of our trip, the lost equipment was found and returned, and we praise the Lord. Our team in Malawi will return to this village in late March to show the Jesus film as we promised.)
The next three days saw our team split into two groups with Traci, Lindsay, Charlie, Glenda, and Chris going with four of our Malawian team and one from Hope House to teach and preach in the three orphanages. Craig, Steve, and Dalitso went with one other from Malawi and one from Hope House to the remote village of Matekenya, a location that most say is impossible to reach in rainy season. While the visits to the orphanages were very productive with children praying to receive Christ and other needs being met, the trip to Matekenya was filled with obstacles. In transit along the muddy path through the mountains, a place in the road was dug out to construct a bridge where the stream crossed the path. Our team took handmade tools and assisted others in filling the deep hole to make the way passable. After another hour, the vehicle came to another barrier, but this time we sank up to the axles. With no tractors or winches in such remote places, we found helpers to get our vehicle out and a 2 x 6 to use as a ramp. Instead of turning back, we again filled in part of the deep hole, laid the 2 x 6 in a manner to carry one sides tires, and continued on.
After a few hours, we reached the village filled with people hungry for the good news of Jesus Christ. Hundreds openly repented of their sins during afternoon and evening preaching. After spending a short night on a slab floor, we began the dangerous trip back in even worse conditions because of the rains that fell while we were there. Leaving at 5:30 am, we found muddy steep passages that should have been impossible to climb in our two-wheel drive vehicle. Sometimes we would put three people out of the vehicle to push and place stones behind the tires. We would make a few feet of progress up the muddy slope and move the tire blocks forward so as not to lose ground. Then we would drive a few inches further and again readjust the stones. Upon finally arriving back at Hope House, we learned that many lives had been changed by the gospel through what God had done in both parts of the team.
The following day, Chris preached his first public sermon to nearly 1000 students in a school, and more than 300 acknowledged their new faith in Jesus. One of these new Christians was Adam, our bus driver.
And this is only a brief report of the first three days, and it continued at a frantic pace. In the first 21 days, our team preached and taught in over 60 settings to thousands of people with many decisions including more than 3500 salvations in three countries (7,747 for the total trip). We also conducted three evangelism conferences and three women’s conferences where we trained about 300 pastors, their wives, and church leaders in evangelism. In presenting the gospel in the women’s conferences, Traci led several to faith in Christ. We showed the Jesus film 15 times and even saw Muslim village chiefs express their new life in Christ. We praise God, and we know there is much left to do in Africa and in the U.S.
As we traveled to one remote village, I rode in the front passenger seat (left side of the vehicle as the driver is on the right side) with my window down and my arm resting through the open window. A warrior from a certain tribe and dressed in native attire wielding a machete approached my side of the vehicle in a violent manner chanting loudly. Sensing there was no time to respond, I held my ground while praying, and was greatly relieved when his aggressiveness was only a bluff. He ran after the vehicle for a while before relenting. From that point, my awareness of my surroundings was heightened. On the same trip we encountered other religious attire including one dressed as a 10 foot tall person, the top portion a dummy and undoubtedly eyeholes for the individual inside the costume. Both of these are from an ancestry worship group which practices witchcraft and sorcery.
Our time in Dowa District concluded with the showing of the Jesus film and preaching in the city of Dowa.
After our morning devotional time with the Hope House staff, our Flame of Fire Ministry team traveled to Lilongwe to release part of our team to their homes and to pick up Dalitso at the seminary and his wife Neneni. After lunch in the capital city, we drove west two hours to the border of Zambia. We were delayed in Mchinji for about two hours, but while we waited in a business parking lot, several people came to hear what we had to share, and Traci, Charlie, and Steve shared the good news to some open ears and hungry hearts.
By the time we crossed the border, going through the customs agenda for exiting one country and entering another, we were running about two hours late to get to our preaching point in Chipata, Zambia, to open our evangelism conference. However, the 103 participants were still waiting for us when we arrived after 9:00 pm, and we sang and preached as if we had started on time.
After a short night’s rest, we returned to Hope Baptist Church for the evangelism conference teaching and the women’s conference. Of the 48 women in attendance, Traci’s presentation of the gospel led to 11 salvations. This night we were able to get to our sleeping quarters in time for an early supper and some much-needed rest. When we woke up on Sunday morning, our team split going to four different churches by Zambian taxi where the women taught children’s Sunday School classes and our men preached with interpreters. From these assignments we traveled three hours north to South Liwonde National Park and Game Reserve where we took a night safari and a morning safari on each end of our sleep. We were blessed to see some of God’s wonderful creation, including elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, and leopards (one leopard up close and personal).
Following an early lunch, we drove six hours back to Lilongwe, Malawi, to preach the opening session of our second of three evangelism conferences. We arrived in time for most of the team to stay at our sleeping quarters while Craig and Dalitso preached at the Baptist Theological Seminary, the host site of the conference.
For the next three mornings, Craig, Steve, and Charlie preached at the seminary chapel service, respectively. The evangelism conference followed on the first two days, while Traci, Glenda, Lindsay, Neneni, and Sara shared with a few wives. From there, the team added interpreters to travel east to Salima near the famous Malawi Lake. The following day we parted company with Charlie and Glenda, as they began the flight back to the U.S. The other team members taught and preached at a school, showed the Jesus film in Salima District, and then rose early the next morning to cross the lake by boat (about four hours) into the Makenjira Region. This region is very primitive and heavily Muslim. During our three days there, we slept in tents at the edge of the jungle and showed the Jesus film and preached in four villages. We also taught Sunday School and preached in Nalungu Baptist Church, Mkonde Baptist Church, and Chimphole Baptist Church. We returned to one large village the day after showing the Jesus film, and witnessed the Muslim chief of the village repent of his sins and invite Jesus into his life.
After three days and many decisions, we returned across the lake in time for the opening session of our next evangelism conference at Senga Bay Baptist Church. Again, most of the team got some much-needed rest in preparation for the next two days of the conference. There were 79 pastors and church leaders in attendance with 14 women, two of whom were saved during the women’s session. Each evening, we showed the Jesus film and preached to hundreds of people.
Upon completion of this final evangelism conference, the team rested and made their way back to Lilongwe to prepare to fly out the following day. Craig and Traci went with Dalitso and Neneni to the family gathering for a funeral for Dalitso’s four year old nephew. Before heading to the airport, Craig again was privileged to preach to the seminary students in their chapel service, this time without an interpreter. Traci, Lindsay, Steve, and Chris were rushed to the airport to allow Craig to get back to the burial site to preach at the funeral, where near 300 family and friends had gathered. Many of them responded to the gospel message and the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
The following day, while most of the team prepared for arrival at home to snow and ice in Oklahoma, Craig and Dalitso traveled to remote villages preaching. People gathered under shade trees in villages without a church, and later that night, many were converted at another showing of the Jesus film. The two stayed in tents at Chengera village and taught Sunday School and preached the next morning. There were so many in attendance, the church building could not hold them all, as many stood outside listening through doors and windows. Some of these had walked for two or three hours coming from the villages where we had preached the day before. Many were there to make public the profession of faith they had made the night before at the Jesus film event.
After eating goat and nsima, Craig and Dalitso headed back to Lilongwe to encourage and be encouraged with some members of the Matekenya family.
On Monday, Craig was again called on to preach at the seminary, and Monday evening, he and Dalitso were invited to share Flame of Fire Ministry vision and reports over supper in the home of Rustin and Jaqleen Kalenga. Rustin Kalenga is the president of Malawi Baptist.
The following day saw Craig join the CREEK Ministry staff to travel more than 20 hours over the next five days to the north to prepare the plan for 2015 ministry. Craig traveled with four from CREEK Ministry including the founder Pastor Greg Hall. This group traveled to Mzimba, Mzuzu, Karonga, Nkhata Bay (where they went to remote villages to preach on Sunday), Salima, Lilongwe, and ending in Mchinji. CREEK Ministry conducted a pastors’ conference in Mchinji, where Craig took part in preaching, and joined others in showing the Jesus film and preaching for the next two nights. During these days, there were also several personal witnessing opportunities and hut-to-hut sharing. On the final day of ministry before his scheduled departure, Craig preached seven times to a total of more than 8,000 people with hundreds coming into God’s kingdom. Before Craig was returned to the airport to begin the two-day flight home prior to departure, however, an impromptu meeting took place with the general secretary of the Malawi Baptist Convention, Brother McGlyns.
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