News from our Africa Europe Area Director Bryce Whiting
(April 11, 1979 – July 6, 2017)
Our mission office received news on July 6 that our dear friend and Malawi Conference President Rev. Samuel Sosono went to the hospital with reported high blood pressure and diabetes. We learned later that day that he had died. This is a tragic blow to Samuel’s very young family and to the family of God in Malawi. He was a much loved servant-leader, known especially for exhibiting gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit.
Samuel became a member of the Advent Christian Church in 1999, at the time the Conference was founded in Malawi. He served as Sunday school teacher, leader of the youth evangelism ministry, church secretary and choir member. Elected as president of the Malawi/Mozambique AC Conference in September 2006, Samuel traveled monthly preaching and planting churches as he carried out the conference’s mission statement based on Matthew 19:28 – “To go and make disciples of all nations.”
Samuel also pastored the New Hope AC Church in the Nsanje district with a membership of more than 350. In Nsanje, Samuel served on a council of pastors, Pastors Fraternal, of different denominations. He served as a zone secretary for Nsanje south and an executive member of Malawi Inter-Faith Aids Committee in Nsanje district.
Samuel leaves behind his wife Diana and their three children. His favorite verse was Psalm 139:1-6 – “Lord you know me, my journeys, the place where I rest, all my ways. Such knowledge is too wonderful to me … ”
A short-term mission team has a scheduled flight this Thursday, July 13, for Malawi. This trip seems even more urgent now to share in the grief of our brethren and to bring them encouragement. As part of the team, Rev. Ken Perkins will make his annual trip with his wife Darlene. This year their son John and daughter Hannah will accompany them. They are joined by Area Director Bryce Whiting and Dr. Cynthia Lee who will bring teaching and healthcare. Director of Communication Justin Nash will also be there with filmmaker Jason Boyette to bring back on film a portion of what God is doing in Malawi for our 2018 Penny Crusade material.
The mission office asks that you please remember in prayer this family, the Malawi AC Conference and our mission team as they travel to Malawi.
Mt. Carmel Again?
Something is stirring in the East African nation of Tanzania. There are some similarities to stories we have read of the power encounters of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel; yet there is a redeeming quality about these stories which liken them more to the Acts of the Apostles.
A year ago a school teacher named Johnson Odoyo was persuaded that the Lord was calling him away from his job to full-time pastoral ministry. His wife was less convinced. In her mind, pastors were notoriously poor. Sunday offerings could hardly pay for a rental facility and would certainly not provide care for a family of five, but she agreed to pray about it and in time was also persuaded that this move would please the Lord.
The early beginnings were not easy. The small church was evicted from its dwelling. Drought conditions were bringing the country to its knees. But even with no salary to depend on Johnson’s faith in God’s promises stood firm. Although the food on the table came only through daily prayer, he dared to increase his personal responsibilities by adopting two orphaned children and pledging to provide for two others making him responsible for a family of nine. God remained faithful to put food on the table and Johnson remained faithful to give him the glory. His joy has been noticed by many and his church has begun to grow.
Johnson takes frequent trips to other villages to tell them of this wonderful life through Jesus Christ. Two weeks ago, he spoke with a babu (witchdoctor) telling him of the biggest God, the most powerful One, the Creator of all things. The Holy Spirit removed the hardness of the babu’s heart and the babu decided that this would be the God he would serve. Johnson then took a team of evangelists to the village to share the good news with everyone there, and out they came from their dwellings to hear what it was that kept their witchdoctor from giving them their traditional medicine.
As one can imagine, not everyone was so thrilled. The elders of the tribe confronted the evangelists directly saying, “If you stay here, you will not survive.” Johnson responded, “In the Name of Jesus we will survive.” God responded to this word of faith with a great visitation of his Spirit.
• A woman bent over with arthritis straightened up in the Name of Jesus.
• A man with polio used his weak limbs for the first time in years.
• Spirits came screaming out of people as they were set free in the Name of Jesus.
• Many decided to follow the Lord Jesus and were baptized in the same day.
The tribal elders stood before the people and testified, “This IS the One true God.”
As I was laughing with joy over these reports, I said to Johnson, “Some pastors think that the age of miracles has passed.” His reply made me laugh even harder, “Tell them to come to Tanzania.” “Come and see” (John 1: 39).