Sixteen weeks from today, Hailey and I will be back inSouthern California.
Before we left San Diego I made it clear that we were only going to be gone ten months. When I made a statement about the length of our stay, someone would point out that I also said I would never move to Malawi.
On more than one occasion, I emailed the General Secretary and Moderator of the Nkhoma Synod, making sure one school year was an adequate amount of time and they always assured me it was. Once they responded, “Dave, in the Lord’s eyes one year is the same as a million.”
But I’m not so sure the rest of our friends in Malawi share the same sentiment. Over a month ago, I was a guest preacher at Mbuka CCAP. When I was welcomed and introduced, the man giving announcements said, “San Diego may be your first home, but Malawi shall be your last.” I knew what he meant, but couldn’t he have put it in terms that didn’t make me feel like the congregation had a hit man lurking in the shadows?
We have completed just over half our stay in Malawi, and I am torn. I could spend the rest of my life here. Could. Won’t. But could. Frederick Buechner says that one’s calling “is where your greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.”
It is obvious that my gift setting is needed in this place, that there is great need here for my greatest passion. It is also blatantly evident that I don’t completely belong.
Could I see myself ministering here for years? Yes. There is so much to learn and to teach. So much to celebrate and experience. Sharing life with Malawians is something I will forever cherish as one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
Last week, while waiting in line at the bank to withdrawal money to get our plane tickets home, one of the church members who we have gotten to know well said he had hoped we would stay longer. I told him we were extending our stay two weeks. It wasn’t enough. Whenever our departure comes up, it’s the same painful song.
There will always be needs here. And we will forever be involved in God’s desire to see them met. But there are plenty of needs in the U.S. as well (here the majority of people actually know they need Jesus…that can’t be said for the states).
So Mr. Beuchner, riddle me this, “what do you do when your greatest passion meets a world with more than one great need?’