Maula Prison

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 ands AletaCharles 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.

Church Camp 2012

The pre-Church Camp post may have sounded a little bit excited about Church Camp… but 4 days of fun, fellowship, and good Bible teaching did not disappoint!

Brodie, Jon, and Matt – the FBC team – with the help of 5 African Bible College students, ran a 3-ring circus for us: teaching for the adults, a kids’ program, and even a nursery.

The adults studied Romans chapters 4,5,6, & 8 over the 4 teaching sessions.  We looked at how we, as believers, are to live out the gospel in our every day lives, and how Christ’s resurrection confirms that gospel work in our lives.

The tie-in between the resurrection and our sanctification was fantastic, as our camp was over Easter weekend.  A few early risers gathered for a sunrise service and we enjoyed the chance to sing praises to our risen Savior!

The kids learned about Bibliology – all about the Bible.  They came back from their sessions quoting Bible verses, singing silly songs, showing everyone their crafts, and acting just like… well, just like they’d been to camp!  I’m pretty sure most of them would have voted to stay at camp for weeks!

The adults enjoyed a few games too.

Our location was great for walks and game drives, so groups would go out during free time to see sable, zebra, giraffe… some of which came to camp to visit us!  Other people would collect at one camp site or another for coffee, long chats, or a pick-up volleyball game.  It was a great time of getting to know one another better!

One of our great hopes for International Bible Fellowship Church is that we would become a church family, and that our fellowship would be genuine, Christ-centered, and welcoming to others.  This camp was one of those times, and we’re eagerly looking forward to next time!

Bright Vision Orphanage

This past December, our church collected a special Christmas offering to support the work of Bright Vision Orphanage.  There was a need for a water pump and a tank to bring water from the borehole to the new kitchen area, so as a church we decided to help with this project.

And with the FBC team visiting, we plugged them into this ministry opportunity.  They painted the door for the water tower, helped figure out logistics, and ran a one-day kids’ VBS program for the 250 kids who came to see what was going on!

Can you find Matt and Brodie?  =)

We’re excited about this ministry, and look forward to other opportunities for our church to partner with them in the years ahead!

We’re Going to Church Camp!




We’re going to Church Camp!

We have about 70 people signed up for the first ever International Bible Fellowship Family Camp!  We’ll be camping out at Kuti Community Game Park for 3 nights over the long Easter weekend, getting a chance to sit and chat with those in our church, to share testimonies, to gather together a group of families who like to sing, to go for walking safaris together, and to be encouraged and taught in the Word.  Three men from Faith Bible Church in Ladera Ranch, CA, are coming to do the teaching for the adults and kids, so our pastors and regular teachers get a break.  We are so excited!

We’re going to Church Camp!




Study Through the Bible… in 3 Years

Both of us are teaching through the Bible right now – Matt in Youth Group, and Rachel in Ladies’ Bible Study.  Matt started 2 1/2 year ago, so will be covering the book of 1 Timothy this coming Tuesday night, and Rachel started only last month, so the Tuesday morning Ladies’ study is just at the book of Numbers!

Youth Group study

The Bible is such a great book!  There’s a time and a place for topical Bible studies using books that come alongside and help explain Scripture, but there’s nothing as rich and deep and true as Scripture itself.

Ladies bible study

We’re all loving this study, and more and more people are coming to hear the flow of redemptive history through the study of the Bible.  The youth group has grown from a group of 6 guys to a living room packed with 22 guys and girls!  The Ladies’ Bible study has grown too – if all the ladies come, we have 24!

Studying for Numbers

Please pray for these two groups, that God’s Word would be living and active in them as they read and study the Bible.  For many of them, this is the first time they’ve studied any part of the Bible, and for all of us, it’s a time to see God’s plans and His promises worked out over time and history.  Pray for us – Matt and Rachel – too as we spend a good part of every week preparing to teach a whole book of the Bible on Tuesdays.  And if you’re around, stop by for a visit!

Ladies’ Bible Study – at the Biedebach’s home, Tuesdays, 9am

Youth Group – at the Hiroto’s home, Tuesdays, 7pm

Color Blind

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you might be thinking to yourself: There are a lot of white people in these pictures – are the Floreens really in Africa? Yes we are.  =)  And yes, there are a lot of white people here.


Baptism at Biedebachs

Lilongwe, where we live, is the capital of Malawi and is definitely an international city. We’re not exactly on the same level as Bombay, London, or Hong Kong, but we do have an international airport and you can get Indian, Chinese, Ethiopian, AND Italian food here. More importantly, as the capital city, Lilongwe is the hub for almost every local and international government, aid, and development organization in the country. Because Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, there are scores of international organizations here, of every flavor, bringing in aid workers, volunteers, staff, and consultants from their own countries. We see this in our church. In addition to Malawians, we have Nigerians, Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Americans, Brits, Germans, South Africans, Zimbabweans… Some are here for only a few weeks and some have lived here all their lives. Some were born here because their grandfather started a sugar plantation in Rhodesia 80 years ago. Some will stay here only long enough to finish a construction job.


But one of the most striking things we have discovered is a forgotten people group: white Africans. A few months ago Matt was asked to officiate at a memorial service for a middle-aged white lady who was born and raised in Malawi, and later married and settled in Scotland. The service in Malawi was mostly for her childhood friends who still live here. Matt asked the sister what songs should be included in the service.  She thought for a minute and declared that none of the friends would know any church songs because “no one comes to Africa to save white people.”


Youth Group

Does that make you stop and think? It certainly gave us pause.  I (Rachel) will admit that I had been a little shy of putting too many pictures of white people on the blog.  I felt like for every picture of a white person I had to have at least one, if not two, pictures of “real Africans.” I wanted to make sure that everyone who read our blog knew that we were interacting with “real Africans” and not just hiding away in the ex-pat (foreigners) community.  But many of those white people ARE real Africans.


Church View 1

So with ex-pats and white Africans, we have a lot of white people in our church.  They (we) make up almost half of the congregation.


Church View 2

Someone once asked our church’s pastoral staff what demographic they were targeting.  Their answer: sinners.  The Malawians who teach a children’s Sunday school class, the white Zambian single mom who is a new believer, the German missionary with financial trouble, and the American Embassy family who are new to town… like us, they all desperately need God’s grace.  Those are the people we love, the people who live in Lilongwe. They are our demographic.

We Love What We Do – Part 4

Besides teaching, there are a number of other things that occupy Matt’s time as Associate Pastor for International Bible Fellowship Church.



First up: Administration. Matt’s the guy who keeps the church accounting books, who organizes the extra things like church picnics and camps and men’s events, and who makes sure that everyone shows up on Sundays for all their ministries – from setting up chairs, to the sound guy, to the children’s Sunday school teachers. He’s the behind-the-scenes guy who strives to equip our church members for the work of service (Eph 4:11-13).  This role works hand-in-hand with…



Relationships and Discipleship.  It’s hard to equip someone for service if you don’t know them. Matt spends a lot of time with people, getting to know them, walking with them as they learn and grow. He intentionally invests his time and the wisdom God has given him into these many people who serve in our church. Sometimes this means helping them figure out what their spiritual gifts are and where they’d like to serve. Sometimes it means training them in the skills they need.  And sometimes it means just living life with them, whether they got a good grade on their Greek quiz or their 4 year old daughter just passed away unexpectedly.


Matt Kondi and Brian

The last major area of Matt’s ministry at IBF is church leadership.  Matt gets to work on pastoral staff with Brian Biedebach and Kondwani Nyanda, and these three get to work on a steering committee with four other men to make decisions and set the course for the church.  We’re just starting the process of identifying and appointing elders, so the coming months will be exciting for the church leadership at this role changes from a “steering” ministry to a shepherding ministry.  Please keep the pastoral staff and the steering committee in your prayers as they make this transition, and pray for wisdom as elders are appointed to guide the church in the best direction.


Can we say it again?  We love what we do!

We Love What We Do – Part 3

Months ago we started a series about what we do and why we love it so much.  Part 1 and Part 2 were about what Rachel does, but the guy who is really busy around here is Matt.  Here’s a little bit of what he does every week…


Sunday School Group Praying

We started an adult Sunday School class at International Bible Fellowship Church last year, and Matt taught through the attributes of God and how to know the will of God.  As far as we know, this is the only adult Sunday School class in Malawi.


Sunday School Matt Speaking

This year he started with a series on testing our love for God, primarily from the books of John and 1 John.  I (Rachel) know that this is not the most stellar picture of Matt teaching, but do you know how hard it is to get a “good” picture of someone teaching?!?


Matt Talking 1     Matt Talking 2     Matt Talking 3

Nope. Nope. Nope. I have dozens of less than complementary pictures of Matt, and this difficulty may in part be why there is a gap of 7 months between Part 2 and Part 3 of this series. Thank you for your understanding. =)


Youth Group Studying

Sunday School isn’t the only thing Matt teaches on a regular basis – he also gets to teach the youth group.  From a faithful group of 4-5, there are now about 18 youth who come every Tuesday night!  Matt has been teaching through the Bible, one book of the Bible every week, for the past couple years, and this past Tuesday they looked at the book of John.


Youth Group Funny

They like to have fun! In fact, we’re looking forward to a lot of fun with them as we head out to another youth camp October 15-17.  Matt will be speaking about idolatry and the heart, so you can be praying for those days with this great group of kids.


Matt Studying

Please do pray for Matt and for the many hours of study he puts in each week for these teaching responsibilities.  He loves the studying and the teaching, and we’re trusting that God can use it for His glory and for the spreading of the gospel here in Malawi!

Guest Blog Post: Mozambique Part 2

The second half of Rachel and Raqel’s series on Mozambique. Don’t miss the first part!

(Rachel Lawson)
Weeks before this trip we were told that we were probably going to be doing seminars in the village, and so we prepared different topics to speak on. However, Pastor Brian told us that the people needed to hear different topics than what we prepared. The turnout also was smaller than expected; it was mostly the elders and their wives who came to listen. For the first seminar Matt’s parents (Eric and Lorraine) spoke on the Biblical view of marriage. Dr. Larry Brown then held a Q and A where they were free to ask any questions. I enjoyed listening to all the questions they had, and Dr. Brown answered them very well. He made it clear that he was willing to stay as long as necessary to answer all their questions, because they might not have this opportunity again for a long time. They asked questions that were relevant not just to them, but to Christians in America as well. It was just awesome to see that even though we come from totally different cultures, we still struggle and wrestle with many of the same issues.

Q and A with Larry

After the seminars Bobbie and I went with an elder of the church to his hut, which was about a two-mile walk. Clifford came with us as a translator, since none of the elders speak fluent English. The man wanted us to bring back gifts for our team. When we arrived at his hut his wife and three small children greeted us. His children’s eyes were wide at seeing two azungu (white people) so close by. We sat on bamboo mats and helped crack peanuts, which we brought back with us. We also brought back cassava, which is a root similar to a sweet potato. After the nuts were roasted and salted we were able to eat some, and they tasted just like peanut butter! Hands down peanuts are ten times better in Mozambique than anywhere in the U.S. We also were served the sweetest tea I’ve ever tasted; it was so delicious. I was struck by how generous he and his family were, even though by our standards they have hardly anything. Clifford said that because they showed such hospitality towards us it showed how much they respected and welcomed us. Time flew by there and we ended up staying for a few hours.

Mozambique Food

The walk back to camp was breathtaking as the sun was going down. I wish I could go back and replay those moments. One thing I’m going to miss greatly are African sunsets, they’re just not the same in North America…. still beautiful, but just different. Isn’t it amazing that the Lord delights in painting the sky for us to enjoy? The one that night was perfect, a perfect masterpiece painted by our Creator!

Sun through trees Mozambique

(Raqel Cherry)
The good news for Tuesday was that the Kombi was successfully patched up, with the muffler and exhaust pipe attached well enough so that we would hopefully make it home, or at least the 20km of dirt road till the tar road started. It was a bittersweet morning knowing that we would be leaving that day and I think most of us were surprised at how hard it would be to leave the village and the people we had just started to get to know. We packed up the tents once they had dried a little from the morning dew and we were ready to start saying our goodbyes, but that was not what the villagers had in mind.

Preparing lunch in Moz

About an hour after our breakfast routine of toast and Rooibos, we found out the elders had made sure another meal was made for us complete with everything from goat to cassava. We didn’t have time to stay for lunch so we ended up having a very big second breakfast. Kondi and Brian Mtika then translated the exchange of farewells which made a few of us tear up. It’s amazing how quickly we attach our affection to things in this world and it was beautiful to be reminded in the goodbye from the elders, that they would love to see us again, but if not we will meet in heaven. This beautiful concept is completely unique to us as believers, that the most important things in this life are those that concern eternity and in Christ we all share heaven as our common end. This was huge in putting a lot of things into perspective for me. It’s something I think that we can all learn from when we look at our own lives and how we all spend our time. I am so grateful that we had this opportunity and for how God used it to teach us all so much, especially about His global body of believers. We eventually left, to a farewell of singing and dancing from the villagers; we momentarily joined in, still sticking out – not just because of our skin but also our inherent lack of natural rhythm.

Mozambique Farewell

Kondi mastered the dirt road getting us successfully back to the tar road, but this time Matt wasn’t quite as lucky and his vehicle ended up getting a flat before we were even half way done. Luckily there was a spare and enough manpower to sort that out and we were soon on our way to the border. We had a relatively quick transition back into Malawi and a reflective drive back home. Oh –I can’t forget the freshly baked chewy chocolate chip cookies Rachel blessed us with when we walked through the door, simply delicious!

Everyone in Mozambique

Guest Blog Post: Mozambique Part 1

Rachel Lawson and Raqel Cherry tag-teamed a 2-part series on the trip to Mozambique. Here are the first 2 days…

(Rachel Lawson)
My team and I spent an unforgettable weekend in a rural village in the beautiful country of Mozambique. Matt, his parents, and three other people from IBF came with us as well: Kondwani Nyanda who is the pastoral assistant at IBF, Clifford, who is a student at ABC, and Dr. Larry Brown who is a professor there. We spent time with Brian Mtika’s church; he is a Malawian missionary who has been in Mozambique for five years.

Kombi on the way to Moz

We packed up the Kombi (VW van) and headed out Saturday morning. Once we crossed the border between Malawi and Mozambique we drove on a highway for a while until we reached a turnoff and drove down a dirt road, which took us 20 kilometers into the wilds of Mozambique (in other words, the bush). Kondwani was our driver and did a marvelous job at maneuvering around really rocky and rough places along the way. Even though the exhaust pipe managed to break off at one point he still holds our confidence!

Surf on the way to Moz

When we arrived at the church in the late afternoon we were warmly greeted by a crowd of curious and excited kids surrounding us. The language barrier was clear to us right away. We immediately felt the need to talk with them, to learn all about who they were…but we did manage to smile and make funny faces. That evening I was able to watch some women of the church make our dinner, and even help out a bit by cutting some lettuce for the relish. The menu consisted of nsima, relish, and chicken, which were all cooked over the open fire. Nsima is a thick cream of wheat type food and takes muscle to stir it in the pot. I was amazed at how strong these women are, and how they have the technique of stirring the nsima down to almost a dance.

Village Ladies Making Dinner

After dinner we showed the Jesus Film, which about 50 people came to see. The projector system wasn’t working, but we were able to use a laptop. The screen was small, but the important aspect is that the Gospel was heard.  The most memorable moment of the day for me was eating under the cover of moonlight. Words can’t describe how bright the moon was and how it cast dreamy shadows onto the ground. It was so bright we didn’t need flashlights at all. I was struck by the beauty and grandeur of our Lord’s creation, and how small I am. Like the psalmist states in Psalm 8, “when I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?”

With Village Kids

(Raqel Cherry)
Sunday we woke up to a crisp morning, to say the least. We were far from being the first ones up as the women in the village has already been up long enough to walk from their homes, some of which were 3 or 4km’s away, to the church grounds to start the breakfast fires and boil water for us to have a warm water to freshen up with. Rooibos tea and toast by the fire made for a great breakfast –the first few attempts of toast were just warm bread as no one could hold it close enough or long enough over the flame, until Matt and I had the ingenious idea of using sticks instead of our hands. Right then Matt found the perfect stick and everyone was able to enjoy some thoroughly fire-scorched toast.

Sunday School Songs Moz

Our first official (well as official as it gets in an African village) part of the day was the little kids Sunday school that Kim taught while Clifford translated. We quickly learnt how to sing “Peace like a River” in Chichewa and then taught it to the kids. Kim then taught through all the days of creation complete with actions for every day. They then motioned to us that it was time for us to all go into church and so we followed them in, all the girls (well almost) sitting on the left side and all the boys (including our female team leader –Kim who was oblivious to this separation until a little later into the service) sat on the right.  I felt blessed to stand and worship alongside the congregation despite the fact that I couldn’t understand anything they were singing. We were all content to observe fellow brothers and sisters in a completely different culture to ours, sincerely praise God and know that He was getting the glory regardless of whether or not we could understand the words. After we got to enjoy more worship songs performed by the Church elders and the women’s guild, Kondwani preached on Psalm 23. It is so encouraging to see this ministry in a village that seems to be out in the middle of nowhere, knowing that there is a church back in Lilongwe supporting and praying for them.

Rachel eating nsima in Moz

After church we got to experience goat intestine added to the regular lunch menu, from a goat that we had seen tied to a tree near the kitchen area earlier that morning – talk about organic, this village gets it. Later that day we set out for a nearby village where we were going to show the Jesus Film that night. The walk was about 4km which took us a good two hours, good because the squabble of kids walking with us held our hands and sang for the whole walk, making it feel as if 4km was our usual afternoon stroll. The venue was a thatched hut with a lovely flattened area in front where we were going to screen the movie, open air, once the sun had set.

Duck Duck Goose set up

We had time to kill until dark so we taught the kids more songs (particularly “Making Melodies” which was an instant favorite) and then played the most epic game of “duck-duck-goose” or “baka-baka-nkanga” with almost 50 kids and a few adults who couldn’t resist the fun. Finally after another breath-taking sunset the darkened sky let the moonlight creep into its nightly routine of leaving us awestruck and JP introduced the Jesus Film to a brand new audience. When it was done we trekked back, with the path lit only by the moon, to the village we endearingly called home for a few days. We were greeting with the familiar smell that quickly ended Kondi and Matt’s hungry grumbles as we grabbed plates to dish up more goat, chicken and nsima. After enjoying fellowship around the fire we all went to bed happy and thoroughly exhausted.

Ryan Duck Duck Goose