Feeling a bit warm?
Any hot flashes?
Think you have a fever?
Temperature a tad high?
Whatever you do, don’t go into the river to cool off your body, ESPECIALLY if you’ve recently made enemies with anyone from the Sena Tribe in Malawi. I repeat, don’t go into the river!
The Sena people live in Southern Malawi. They are nestled in an area known as the Lower Shire. The temperatures in the Lower Shire reach scorching highs. Not only could you fry the proverbial egg on a sidewalk, you could also cook the bacon and make yourself a steaming cup of coffee before you’d be able to say “turn down the heat in the Shire kitchen.”
Well, ok, maybe it’s not quite that hot, but you can certainly leave your long underwear in Wisconsin and your mittens in Minnesota. But, heed the warning: if you are feeling a bit toasty, don’t take a dip in the river, or it may just be the last one you ever take.
Some people in the Sena tribe have been known to use magic to first of all cause you to feel extra warm so that you do go down to the river to cool off; and that’s when they get you.
Or better said, that’s when IT gets you.
By using charms, these irate and vengeful Sena are able to send a giant crocodile to grab you, pull you under, death-roll you ’til you suffocate and drown and…
You are no more.
Well, ok, maybe not. Odds are that you aren’t anywhere near the Lower Shire and it is most likely that you haven’t ruffled any feathers of any person from the Sena Tribe. Perhaps–and most significantly– you don’t even believe that any Sena, cranky, or otherwise, can do such magic mayhem anyway.
Even though you’re not shaking in the skin of your bare feet, many Malawians are. Because they do believe it! Many are deathly afraid of being cursed and witched; many are superstitious and fearful about others using magic and medicines against them.
Who’s out to get me?
WHAT’S out to get me?
Questions and fears like those lurk in the back waters of their hearts like frightening reptiles in Malawi’s rivers; and so they hang a charm, offer a sacrifice, call upon dead ancestors, dance a dance, or swallow some medicine. All in an effort to ward off evil.
But know this: though the Malawian culture often embodies such issues, God’s Word boldly speaks to them, too.
And, consequently, so does Patrick Goodson Master.
Patrick is an Evangelist in the Lutheran Church of Central Africa Malawi Synod. He’s not an ordained pastor, but he does all the work of a pastor except for one thing: distributing the Lord’s Supper. Hence the title, “Evangelist.”
Patrick completed his classroom studies at the Lutheran Bible Institute (1993-1995), but he never did go on to finish his Seminary training. Nevertheless, the lack of a diploma for his wall never meant a lack of love for the Lord. His gift to minister to God’s people has actually been fanned to flame over the years.
God has given Evangelist Master an opportunity to serve in the Lower Shire. Though he himself is from the Lomwe tribe, he has been among the Sena since 1995. It was “way back then” that the Mission Board of the LCCA-MS called him to serve congregations in the sun-drenched areas of the Lower Shire called Chikwawa and Nsanje.1
Twenty one years later he is still serving: still sharing the gospel truths, still preaching Christ crucified, still teaching salvation by grace, still assuring the Sena that there indeed is a river into which they need not be afraid to go. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” (Psalm 46:4).
A dip into God’s refreshing waters of grace does wonders for the soul! And that gives Patrick a mighty refreshing message!
And so, after all these years, Patrick is still faithfully serving, not only congregations, but his family as well.
And it hasn’t been an easy road.
Patrick and his wife Betty have a daughter Beatrice who needs constant special care and attention because she suffers with epilepsy. It is absolutely vital that they live nearby to medical facilities. By God’s grace, they do. There is a hospital within an easy bike ride and it offers the proper medicine and doctor care that Beatrice needs.
No, it hasn’t been an easy road. And, it’s as if their faces bespeak the difficulty of it.
The Masters also have had to endure the pain of losing not one, but two children already. God has called to his eternal home Besten and Lusiya at the tender ages of 3 and 4.
Life hasn’t been peaceful.
But the river has.
“For this is what the LORD says: I will extend peace to her like a river…as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…” (Isaiah 66:12,13).
Our LORD has spoken. And, He still speaks. To Patrick. To Betty. To the Sena. To all of people of every nation, tribe and language.
To you and to me.
Worn out with your own striving to earn God’s favor? God refreshes with the assurance of His love.
Feeling fatigued with regret over past mistakes? The LORD invigorates with the promise of His mercy.
Weak with the problems of life? Christ fortifies with His own strength.
Drowning in despair over your own sinfulness? Jesus rejuvenates with forgiveness.
Feeling the scorching heat of life? The hot temps of temptation? The furnace blast of Satan’s ridicule?
Go down to the river that God provides in Christ. Step into the cool waters.
There’s peace. There’s gladness. There’s blessing. And as Patrick will assure you and any Sena person who will listen to the news about God’s river in Christ,
There are no crocs.
By: Missionary John Holtz
1. Patrick Master serves the following congregations: Diwa, Chizilo, Livunzu, Makanga, Tengani
Learn about the ministry work of WELS Missions.
Support the ministry work of WELS Missions.