Yep, these were our 5th Annual IBF Christmas Parties! With a new baby in the house, we weren’t sure if we could host the parties this year, but Rachel’s parents came to help out and we knew we could do it with their help. And we’re so glad we did. We love these parties, and more importantly we’ve seen over the years the importance of these times together as a church body in fellowship, worship, and fun.
The photo booth is always popular for a little fun. It’s a good memory too, as we try to print off a bunch of the photos people have taken and then hand them out at church.
We always have a game for the adults as well – this year’s game was 4 on a Couch. The group at Wednesday night’s party was very competitive, with the women finally pulling off a win in something like quadruple overtime. And then at Friday night’s party, the men pulled off a nice, clean win.
Good times of singing some favorite Christmas hymns. “Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” What amazing truths to sing and celebrate together as a church family!
Matt shared this year from Philippians 2 on the humility of Christ in the incarnation.
It was a great time of celebrating together, and now we are looking forward to celebrating Christ’s resurrection together at Family Camp over Easter!
We’re back in the swing of things! International Bible Fellowship Church kicked off our 9am Family Fellowship Hour (Sunday School) today, and it feels like the year has really begun. Thank you to those of you who read our recent newsletter and have been praying for Sunday School teachers – we have a full set of teachers and assistants! Praise the Lord!
Since Abigail is 3 years old now (!), today was her first day of Sunday School. I was next door in the nursery, so peeked in near the end of class to see if she was doing ok. They were coloring, but she jumped out of her seat and ran to the door. Uh-oh, I thought. Then she said “Shh, Mama,” pushed on my leg, and added quietly “Go now!” Apparently she’s doing just fine with being a big girl now! =)
With the long school break over (“summer vacation,” which is actually winter for us in the southern hemisphere), it was nice to have the church back to full capacity. The picture above misses the whole left section of the church, as well as all the chairs lined up in the back. There were about 200 people at church today. It’s also nice to have Brian Biedebach back in the pulpit after their furlough, and to continue with our study of the book of Ephesians.
During the 10am main service time, we simultaneously run a Children’s Church program for kids ages 0-11. Beatrice, pictured above, has been helping with Children’s Church for some time, and we’re so thankful for her. Today she had 18 kids in her class of 3-6 year olds! I didn’t count, but I did see the 7-11 year olds filing into class as well, and I would guess there were 30-35 in that class. Wow, that’s a lot of kids! Pray for the teachers and leaders of nursery, Sunday School, and Children’s Church, as well as Matt as he gives oversight to all the programs – looks like it’s going to be a busy year!
It’s always fun to see our friends become members at church. We’ve had a couple groups of new members lately, and Ezra, Maya, Jim, and Bethany are the most recent.
The church isn’t all about numbers, but we’re excited to see these friends and many more expressing their commitment to International Bible Fellowship Church. Pray that we as a church can encourage and strengthen them in their walks with the Lord, and that they would find areas where they can serve the church and use the gifts and talents God has given them to also encourage and strengthen others.
There’s always more ministry than there is time. Especially here in Malawi. We try to stay intentionally focused on church ministry, because we realized a long time ago that if you try to do everything, you won’t do a good job at anything. One of the great things about church ministry is that the church is involved in different ministries, and members of our church head up different outreaches and projects throughout the Lilongwe area. We’ve mentioned the prison ministry before, but another one that Matt got to visit recently is a children’s ministry in the village of Chinsapo.
Two dear ladies from our church, Grace and Mirjam, hold a kids’ program in this nearby village every Thursday afternoon. They have about 150 in the younger kids’ program (up to 10 years), and about 100 in the older kids’ program (11-18).
The ladies include Bible stories, skits, songs, and coloring or activity time in their programs. This all sounds fairly normal until you remember they they hold these programs under a few large trees in the middle of a village, with very few resources but an abundance of creativity and love. Sometimes the ladies bring something special for the kids. Right now our church is collecting warm clothes and blankets for the kids as we approach the winter months.
Grace actually lives in this village, so has great opportunities to build relationships and shine the light of the gospel in her every day life. Both Grace and Mirjam are active in the church as well as the Ladies’ Bible Study, so we’ve gotten to know them well. Neither of them would claim or aspire to hero status for what they do every Thursday afternoon; rather, they have put to use the gifts, talents, time, and opportunities God has given them for this ministry. We’re thankful for them, and glad to come alongside them as a church to help and support them in this work.
Please pray for these ladies when you think of them. I know they would appreciate it! And if you’d like to hear more of what they do, you can check out Mirjam’s blog.
We love church camp! Granted, this is only our 2nd annual church camp, but we looked forward to it all year long!
We love the way everyone pitches in and makes camp “home” for a few days.
We had great times of worship and teaching in the Word brought to us by a team of 7 from Faith Bible Church in Ladera Ranch, CA – who also put on a kids’ program at the same time.
We had hours of fellowship around food, around campfires, around campsites, and all around the game reserve. It was so nice to just stop and spend the better part of 4 days together with these people we love and always want to see more of. We can’t think of a better way to spend Easter weekend than with our church family! (You can click on the group photo above to see a large version.)
The Christmas parties were GREAT! We had about 35 people the first night, and about 50 people the second night.
We had food, fellowship, a kids’ Christmas movie, Christmas pictionary, carols, and a devotional to go with the reading of Luke chapter two. We also had the photo booth again this year. Here are a few of the great faces we captured there.
We are so blessed to spend the Christmas season with these people, our friends and our family in Christ. To all of you, friends and family, far and near, much love and a very Merry Christmas!
The Christmas Parties are coming!
This year we will be hosting the 4th annual International Bible Fellowship Church Christmas Parties at our home. Over 2 nights, the 18th and the 20th, we will host everyone at our church who can make it to the parties. Last year we had almost 60 people at each of the parties, for over 100 in our home over those 2 nights!
It makes for a busy week, but one that we love. And it’s this week!
It was 10 years ago, December 2002, that International Bible Fellowship Church had its first church service. It was started by 4 families – 2 Baptists and 2 Presbyterians – and spent many years without a full-time pastor. Then, finally, in 2007, Brian Biedebach took the position as pastor of IBF and moved to Malawi with his family. In 2009, we joined the Biedebachs in ministry as Matt became the associate pastor. Over the years, IBF has grown into a truly international fellowship of about 120 people who meet multiple times a week to study God’s Word and worship Him as a body of believers.
AND… just over a week ago, we established a board of elders and deacons! We are so blessed to be under the leadership of these men! God has faithfully provided for His church. Please pray for these men as they serve and lead the church. Like the church body, they come from all over the world, so pray for unity for them as they discuss and teach God’s Word. We know that the Word of God transcends culture, and we also know that it is only God’s Word and the work of His Spirit in our lives that can unite people from many different cultures so that we can be known as His body, His family. Praise the Lord for His work at IBF!
The Floreen family got to participate in our 4th Youth Camp this month. We love these camps! We had 14 youth this time, and tackled a complicated and confusing subject for teens: dating. The youth leadership had all been getting questions from different students about this topic, so we decided to give an overview of what the Bible says about relationships.
For the first time, we were at camp and Matt wasn’t the main speaker. We had the opportunity to hear our friend Kellen Hiroto teach, and we really enjoyed – not just the break from teaching – but an excellent time of seeing what God’s Word says about relationships.
We also enjoyed the times of music and worship, as well as games, bonfires, and swimming with the youth. We didn’t know if we’d get to swim in the lake this camp, because this guy showed up on our beach:
Yep, that’s a crocodile. About 3-4 years old, and about 4 feet long. He’d been hanging around the Wheelhouse beach for a few days, so they had put out two large traps for him and hung dead chickens as bait. The students arrived for camp Saturday afternoon, and the croc was caught Sunday morning – so we all got to go swimming!
It was a great camp. We’re so thankful for these youth and for the desire of so many of them to follow the Lord in all ways.
Looking forward to the next youth camp!
One of the weekly ministries of International Bible Fellowship Church is coordinating a church service at Maula Prison. Charles Msukwa, an IBF church member who was saved in prison years ago, heads up this ministry. Charles knows first hand what these men need – they need Christ. God has blessed Charles with a servant’s heart and the gift of evangelism and compassion.
Charles with his wife, Ellita, at the IBF Christmas Party
Preaching is central to this ministry, but there are also other ways IBF ministers to the men and women of Maula Prison. We have collected school materials for them, have made sure they have clothes and transport money when they are released, and for those who have been regularly attending, we write a letter for the inmates to take as they make an effort to rejoin their home church.
Matt, Brian Biedebach, and many other men from our church have gone to the prison with Charles to preach. It is such a great opportunity that we couldn’t let the FBC team go home without going to prison first! So we sent them off to spend their last morning with Charles at Maula Prison.
Jon Buck had the opportunity to preach while Charles translated for him:
We’d appreciate your prayers for this ministry of the church – for Charles as he coordinates, for more men in the church to come alongside Charles in this ministry, and for the prisoners, that they would come to know Christ and to grow in their faith.