Furlough 2012 Schedule

Two days til Fly Day!  Boxes and piles are accumulating around our house – we’re getting ready to fly out on SUNDAY!  Yahoo!  Yikes!

Yes, we’re excited, but it does feel like there’s a lot to do in the next 2 days.  We have 5 people staying in our house while we’re gone, so we have to get it ready for them to move in next week.  And then pack everything we will need for the next 4 months in 3 big boxes and one suitcase.

Then we fly to Greece!  Our mission organization, Grace Ministries International, has a conference for all its missionaries every 2 years, and this year’s conference is in Greece.  Conveniently, it’s right at the beginning of our furlough time, so we’re taking a little side trip to the conference on our way to the States.  We’ll be there for about 10 days for meetings, a bit of touring, catching up with lots of missionary friends, and soaking up some sun so that we can be ready for sunny southern California.  It was 56 degrees this morning here in our part of the southern hemisphere – we’re due for some warming up!

So here’s our schedule for the next few months.  Once we get to California and can catch our breath a bit, we’ll have more details on when and where we’re speaking.

Floreen Furlough 2012

June 22   Organize the house and tie up loose ends

June 23   Packing day

June 24   Fly day!  Lilongwe-Johannesburg-London-Athens

June 25 – July 3   In Greece for our mission organization’s bi-annual conference

July 4   Fly to Los Angeles

July 4-August 6   In Santa Clarita, CA, for Matt’s MA in Biblical Counseling classes

August 6-20   At the Floreens’

August 20-Sept 3   At the Smiths’

September 3-October 23   Based in Sun Valley, CA, with trips to eastern Kansas and north-western Washington

October 23-25   Fly back to Malawi

Youth Camp 2012

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.

Kellen Teaching

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.

Charlotte with guitar

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:

Youth camp crocodile

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!

Youth at table

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!

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!

FBC Team 2012

A team from Faith Bible Church in Ladera Ranch, CA, came to visit us for one fun-filled, non-stop ministry week.  These three guys ran hard and got a good sampling of what our lives and work here look like.  Over the next three posts, we’ll show you a bit of what they did – how they served us, the church, and the people of Malawi.

We had a great time with these guys, and are already praying that there will be an opportunity for an FBC Team 2013!

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!