Our most recent visit to Bright Vision was a very memorable one. Stanley wanted us to come out so that we could have a "meeting." Whenever I hear this, I cringe a bit. Meetings in Malawi in general (and Bright Vision is no exception) are usually very long and quite formal. So we headed out, not sure what the morning and early afternoon had in store for us. We got there and pretty much all of the staff and committees were there . We rounded up chairs and took a seat in the kitchen. There was even an MC for the meeting! I'm thinking "Oh man, this is going to be a record-breaker!"
After having everyone introduce themselves, Stanley had each of the different groups at Bright Vision give a short report on the year past. Many of the "heads" of these groups had written out their speech and all of them spoke in Chichewa. Stanley would translate and add a few notes on the end of each report. The groups spoke about their activities the last year, as well as challenges they have faced. As we went on, my attitude began to change towards this meeting. First, I began to feel convicted. We westerners, and myself included, like to do things efficiently, quickly, and with tangible purpose. If we are a part of a meeting that isn't characterized by these things, we tend to start disengaging or silently complaining. I had been prepared for this in myself. But as we went on in the meeting I realized that my western programming can be such a hindrance to ministry here. I was preparing to endure this meeting instead of seeing it as a very important event for all of these people here. I was viewing it as a time-intensive inconvenience while they saw it as a very good and necessary time to meet together. I began to see it as they did as we went along. Malawians are great teachers.
My second feeling was one of overwhelming unworthiness. Each person who got up to speak was adamant in their recognition of Becca and me as the reason why they could do what they did at Bright Vision. Stanley would add to this each time saying that Bright Vision exists because of our support. They wished us long life many times (partly as a result of our generosity and partly so we can continue our generosity) and thanked us for such generosity. The darkest side of my heart really enjoyed a part of this adulation, while the better part of me shuttered in fear of taking it to heart.
This went on for about 45 minutes when I finally got the chance to speak while closing the meeting. My intent was threefold: 1) to say thanks to them because they are the ones who do the bulk of the work, 2) to make sure they know it is the generosity of so many others in the USA who support us and BVOC, 3) to direct the praise to the rightful recipient; namely the triune God. I tried to remind the group that we have been the unworthy recipients of God's abundant provision for our material needs and our eternal well-being. We have been so blessed, and God has allowed us to bless Bright Vision.
It is a privilege to serve in God's Kingdom work. I was reminded of this truth by our meeting. I may not have come into it excited, but I came out resolute to continue the work of serving the numerous and apparent needs of children in Chamadenga.