One of the highest privileges I’ve received is that of serving as Pastor for the community of The First U.P. Church of Crafton Heights for the past 26 years. In 2010, this group granted me a four-month Sabbatical from my ministry for a time of recharging and renewal. In 2019, they extended that offer again – so I’ve got three months to wander, wonder, and join in life in a different way. The longest single time period that I’ll be away from Crafton Heights involves a visit to Africa – a place that has long been a source of renewal and inspiration for me. You can learn more about the relationship between Pittsburgh Presbytery and our partners in Malawi and South Sudan by visiting the Partnership Website.
What a wonder-filled day the 2019 Malawi Youth Pilgrimage team shared today! We began with an early breakfast and then went as a group to visit the Ndirande CCAP. Ndirande is a fascinating community near the city center in Blantyre – it is about as “urban Africa” as it gets. To read one description of life in this slum, you can visit this link.
Our experience of Ndirande was (no surprise) marvelous. The CCAP congregation there is vibrant and alive with several thousand members. We attended the second (of three) services, the English-language one. Jessica was the preacher for the day, and Chloe and I also assisted in worship. Actually, the entire team led worship because we sang as a choir. It was a well-received rendition of “I Will Call Upon the Lord” in which the congregation joined us enthusiastically.
After worship we enjoyed tea at the home of the Pastor (who remained at the church to lead the third service). From there we returned to GBCC and set off toward the shores of Lake Malawi. We stopped to greet Abusa Takuze Chitsulo, the Principal at Zomba Theological College. We had been asked to deliver some books for the ZTC Library, and we took advantage of the stop to learn more about the College’s mission and take a brief tour.
From there we drove straightaway to the southern end of Lake Malawi, where we’ll be privileged to spend a couple of days. Along the way we noted the drastic change in landscape, scenery, and the shift from intensely urban to wide-open rural Malawi. It was a long ride, but it passed quickly enough with a lot of singing, some great conversation, and a nap or two along the way. Our day ended with a late (but delicious) dinner and (for some of us) a few games before bed. All in all, a great day!