MALAWI: 1964 FORWARD
BY JERRY L. CUTTER
In 1962, while living in Highway City 7, near Fresno, California, I received a letter from brother James Orten. It had to do with the languishing foreign mission work, and especially Nyasaland (now Malawi). James proposed that he and I go to Nyasaland for six months, and do what we could to revive the work. The plan was this: That we go alone and see if the work could be salvaged, and that we raise the necessary funds by contacting 90 churches and asking $100 from each, raising a total of $9000 for the venture. This we attempted, and by the grace of the Lord accomplished.
To say the least, we soon encountered "problems." Leaders of some churches told me that we would not raise the money, which in fact did take nearly two years. The brotherhood was just becoming aware of the need for sponsoring congregations and at first we did not have one. This matter was solved by the Lebanon, Missouri church agreeing to sponsor us.
After the funds were raised, things proceeded on schedule. James and I divided the $9000. Our return tickets were about $1230 each. Out of what was left of the $4500 after plane tickets, we further divided the rest with our families. I took about $1500 for my six months' stay in Malawi, and left the rest (about $1750) for Pat, and our three children, Jimmy, Ricky, and Denise to "1ive" on for the next six months. For the only time in my life I felt I had neglected my family.
James and I left Oklahoma City on March 23, 1964, for Nyasaland. We arrived the first week in April, after first checking on the churches in London, and in Belgium. Enroute, we also visited Paris, Rome, Athens and Cairo.
When we arrived in Nyasaland, two things had to be done immediately. We had to have a place to stay, and transportation. By pooling our remaining resources, James and I were able to buy a car (a $600 VW that I drove for the next three years), and to find a suitable boarding house. To save money, we lived together in one twin-bedded room for the six months.
During the next five months we traveled widely, visiting as many of the congregations as possible. Besides a number of studies with preachers and church leaders, we visited about 30 (out of a total 80 or 90) different churches. We worked and we listened. We made no promises, such as preachers' support, but after a few months we had a pretty good feel for the work.
James was highly respected and well received by the African brethren, and it is to be regret-ted that he was not able to return and continue the work after our six months' stay.
We soon purchased an old Gestetner duplicator, and printed a number of lessons that were highly cherished by the brethren.
There was sickness in James' family and he returned to America in early September, 1964. I returned home a couple of weeks later
RETURNING TO NYASALAND
In late September, 1964, I left Nyasaland, hurrying home to get my family and returning quickly, lest what gains James and I had made be lost. We were in Nyasaland by November, 1964.
Three very important things must be mentioned at this point. Whatever has ever been accomplished in Malawi, or anywhere else, is because God blessed us. Paul put it in perspective when he wrote.. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." The second point is, the work was sponsored in its genesis by Lebanon, Missouri, a congregation who loved mission work, and was blessed with some of the greatest church leaders of our time. Third, the great growth in Nyasaland was primarily the work of African preachers, not Americans.
Once again in Nyasaland, I quickly set about reorganizing the work and registering all churches who wished to work with us under P.O. Box 573, Blantyre.
THE CRYERS COME TO MALAWI
One of the great things that happened for the work was the coming of Bennie, Joann, Jeffrey and Calisse Cryer to Africa. At the time Bennie came, we had tried to break the old idea of a mission headquarters. In other words, no longer would one man rule, only to become corrupted, and thus corrupt the rest. Thus, we no longer had the brethren come to us, but rather we went to them. We set up studies across the brotherhood, and were not only able to go to brethren, but many more brethren were able to be taught than ordinarily would have been p05sible. Also this is a much cheaper way of conducting the work.
Exactly what were we doing in Africa? We were teaching the brethren the Bible and how to become better church leaders. We helped the churches purchase grape juice, supplied Bibles, tracts, correspondence courses and song books. When not engaged in studies, we visited congregations, and preached in dozens of churches a year. Among others, Bennie and I established the congregation in Blantyre.
Here something must be mentioned. Some ask: Why after all these years cannot the Africans get along without our help? The truth is, they can, and did quite well after 1915, if you remember. Another thing is that brethren ask how the church is doing in Mrica, not seeming to realize they are asking about a brotherhood, not a local church. How would one answer such a question if asked about the U.S. brotherhood? In Africa, there is a growing work. There are strong and weak churches, big and small. There are faithful and unfaithful preachers, just as here in America. It never was "our work" to begin with, and there is still plenty of work to do.
The work began to take on its biggest growth after Bennie arrived. He was responsible for purchasing the caravan, described more in another article, and also he was responsible for the purchase of the prime three acres near downtown Blantyre, where the house and church building are located.
As for the caravan, it was really just a $500 rattletrap, but it served its purpose well. We were able to go into the hush and "live." It had a refrigerator, stove and "running water." Someone got the bright idea to install our 30 gallon reserve water tank over the driver's seat. We would receive our one and only shower after leaving home going to the bush. No water was left when we returned. We stayed in the bush alone five to seven days at a time, returning to be relieved tIle next week by our coworker. Pat did her best to prepare for my food needs before going into the bush, for I will hardly "cook." It doesn't take long to get very tired of pork and beans, hamburgers, and fried potatoes. Also, only those who have done it know how lonely one can get.
As our stay began to wind down in late 1966, Pat's father became very ill, and she and the children left a few weeks early. It was a sad day then and one to be repeated later when her father died while we were in Rhodesia. While I remained in Malawi, a sweet little 5 year old girl from next door, Calisse Cryer, would come over in the evenings, hold my hand and walk with me around the yard.
Bennie and I made our last trip together in late 1966. We went into Northern Malawi for ten days. We were 500 miles from nowhere, and on Lord's day the closest we could get to the church was 8 miles. We hired a porter and he carried grape juice, my briefcase, and sometimes me. I did not have proper walking shoes, and when we came to a stream he carried me on his back so I could avoid contracting Bilharzia. After walking 16 miles in the tropical sun and conducting the services, we didn't go to bed that night, we more or less collapsed, clothes and all into a deep sleep.
Our trip into Northern Malawi was a good time for Bennie and me. We camped on the shore of beautiful Lake Malawi and had a very enjoyable time. In fact, there were many good times, but space will not allow us to write about them.
My leaving Malawi was a hurried affair. I was wait listed for Dec.13, but confirmed for a couple weeks later. Bennie and family decided to take a few days vacation and left the morning of Dec. 13th, and they no sooner left than I received a call that I could leave that day It seemed my co-workers would not even be able to tell me good-bye. However, by calling ahead I managed to get them turned back after they had gone about 30 miles. At this point I can only say, only those of us who have worked together like James and I did, and Bennie and I and our families, can fully understand how a parting can hurt. I can also say, in every place and at other times, I was given the best co-workers that could be found on earth.
Enroute home I visited Egypt, Jordan, Petra, the old city of Jerusalem, and on to London, then to Scotland and a visit with the brethren there.--Jerry L. Cutter, Rt. I Box 139, Crescent, OK 73028.