Tribute to a Great Man.

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For those of you who followed my blog while I was in Malawi and have an exceptional memory, you may remember a post from last February about a Pastor friend of mine. Here is the transcript of that post… (it’s worth your read)…

Abusa (Pastor) Prince Stazio

A young guy in his 30s

Overseeing numerous churches in the district of Chikwawa, Malawi

Husband and Father of 2 (Yanko and Prince Jr.)

Living in a small, but adequate house in the town of Chikwawa that is never lacking in traffic.

Church members throughout the denomination drop in to see this man of God on a regular basis.

After picking Stazio up last week and accompanying him to a remote village, I got to know a little bit more about this man.

Each week, he has the responsibility of looking out for a number of churches within the denomination that have no pastor.

On this particular instance, he was hitching a ride with us in order to visit a church member that had recently lost one of his young children.

He is one of those guys that just makes you smile when you around him. You would never assume that he is a man of importance.

Over a meal of goat and nsima, I figured I would try and get to know him a little better.

“Stazio, what were the circumstances of you realizing that you were called to be a pastor?”, I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “after receiving my education in Blantyre, I was a businessman working down in Nsanje. I was doing pretty well, but as I was going to church, I realized that God was wanting me to be a pastor. When I told my family that I was going to go to Bible School, they were not very happy. I was the responsible person for all of my extended family. I was about to go from a well paying job to the small salary that a village pastor receives.”

Yet, he was faithful to the Lord.

Even though this decision meant certain sacrifice, he knew that when you are called by God, you don’t just say no.

Sacrifice for a pastor like Stazio means, hopping on a bicycle on Saturdays and riding at times up to 50 Kilometers to get to the church where he will be preaching Sunday morning

In a country that does not have a church on every street corner with 5 staff members and the majority of the people sitting in the pew possessing enough Bible knowledge to be a leader themselves, such sacrifices are simply necessary.

When he was asked whether the demands of his job ever discourage him, he replied:

“I’ve been chosen by God, so I can’t resign.”

Late last week I received word that this dear friend was in the hospital suffering from some severe damage to his liver that was not treated in time. The vibrant, smiling man that I once knew apparently looked very different now.

Last night, Pastor Stazio passed away at his home in Chikwawa village.

I have been wrestling with God about this every since I found out about it on Friday night. I have shed many tears and spent lots of time begging God to heal Stazio.

The first thing that I did was seriously question the sovereignty of God. If God is really in control of everything… and He appoints all things for His glory… why in a million years would He see fit to take away this man that is doing so much good for His Kingdom and is so young and has little children? I wish I could say that God revealed to me some amazing answer for His purposes, but it hasn’t come to me yet.

I’m trusting that the Lord is in control. I’m trusting that He is faithful. I’m trusting that He will use this to bring an incredible amount of glory to His name in Malawi.

Through this I have become so keenly aware of how poorly I suffer. When I read the Bible… or even when I read what Christians all around the world are going through today because of what they believe… but, yet I see resilient brothers and sisters that refuse to deny the Lord when their child is tortured for something that they believe in. Then I look at this circumstance that is relatively distant from my day to day personal life and see how I react… I have got a long way to go.

I pray for more faith.

I pray for the abilty to suffer well when I don’t understand the reasons behind anything.

Please pray for Stazio’s wife and 2 children as well as the numerous people that are affected by this.

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Longing…

Lately my mind has been flooded with thoughts, images, smells, sounds and memories from Malawi.

My process of getting back into life here in the States has been a bit of a roller coaster. I’ve had spells of coasting low and forgetting that it was only a few months ago that my internet took days to process a page and I was washing all my dishes by hand… and then there are days like today that I am reminded at every turn of a person, a walk, a taste.

I love this time of year. The anticipation of the weather getting chilly, little by little (pong’ono pong’ono). I get real giddy when I leave work and the day is beginning to shut its windows to the sun and the breeze takes its place. The perfect time of year to just roll down the windows, slow the car down about 15 mph, as to not create a hurricane within my vehicle, and crank up some music. My music of choice as of late has been none other than some amazing Chichewa tunes. If there is anything that can bring me back to my time in Malawi, it would be just that… driving with the windows down blaring Chichewa music.

This afternoon was also pretty amazing. The day was great. Even better, it ended with me in a park with some friends and a invigorating game of bao and a little Chichewa lesson for a friend. Now, not only does Sara know how to challenge me at this game, but Aaron is not so bad himself. [If anyone else wants to learn how to play… just act remotely interested in it, and I will probably yelp and be your best friend!]

All this to say that, yeah… there is still an enormous part of my soul that is stretching itself over a few thousand miles of water. I’m not over it yet. I don’t ever want to be there.

When I close my eyes and think about eating some fried chambo and nsima (my favorite fish)… my mouth waters and my soul aches.

When I close my eyes and land myself in my old backyard playing barefoot soccer with my kiddos and eating guava as one of my little friends climbs the tree to pick me a few, I feel the seeds in my teeth and my soul aches.

When I close my eyes and picture myself driving down my favorite road in the country… the one that winds its way down the mountains in which my town was nestled to the forever open plains the wait below, I feel the truck gears grinding in 1st and 2nd and my soul aches.

When I close my eyes and walk through my front door, I am reminded that it doesn’t close easily, but it didn’t matter because it always stayed open anyway… I think about the people that walked freely in and out of that opening and my soul aches.

The list could go on and on and on. Day in day out, things like this just dart through my head. As my Chichewa becomes rustier and rustier and starts getting intertwined with hints of Spanish here and there, I am reminded that I am now in a different place. A place with its own challenges. A place with things that mean just as much to me. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the longing in my heart is to snatch a plane ticket heading east and step off that plane at Chileka Airport and breathe in some Malawian air.