Missionary Focus: Chris & Joni Weaver
We were blessed to welcome missionaries Chris and Joni Weaver as guest speakers during their recent trip back to the states from their mission field in Malawi, Africa. They shared about the incredible work God is doing in that country — work they get to witness because they answered “the call.”
So, what is “the call” and how does one receive it?
Chris explains in his talk that it is simply grasping the Biblical understanding of the Great Commission as outlined in Matthew 28. Chris and Joni yielded their lives to God, and, just like His character, God is doing something big.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
God turned a compost pile into a vision. He turned an American IT executive into a farmer. And, He made land in a village, which is very difficult to acquire, into a 35-acre farm. All this has generated meaningful employment opportunities, a sustainable food source and inspired a church plant, displaying the Gospel in a village that is predominantly Muslim.
Please take a few moments to listen to their story and embrace Chris’ challenge to us of designing, or redesigning, our lives to support “the call.”
[Chris Weaver] So I thought I would start off by a real brief summary of my testimony. I trusted Christ in high school, was living the Christian life, ups, and downs here and there. Somewhere along the line, my career became the most important thing in my life, and I excelled in that, and it went up, and then the rest of my Christian life, not so much.
I had some terrible times, and there was a point in time where if I would’ve been God, I’d have taken me, and I’d have went, boom, and flipped me off of this Earth. But, He didn’t, He didn’t give up on me. Praise God.
And then 15 years ago, Joni and I walked through that door, and joined Northwest Bible, and put ourselves under the authority of this church, and participated in the ministries of this church, and that was a transitional, transformational time in our lives, where God turned things around. And 12 years after that, we decided to move to Malawi. And so that’s why this church means so much to us. Because this is where we had that… That reconciliation with the Lord.
So what I’d like to do, a little bit, is go a little deeper because a lot of people come up to us and say, how did you get the call? And a lot of times, that’s followed with a statement like you know, I’ve never really been called to the mission field or, never been called, so really curious on how that works.
So what I thought we’d do this morning is briefly talk about the infamous, “the call.” What is the call? And you know, when Joni and I understood the call, biblically, it transformed our lives.
And there’s really three things I want to talk about that are related to the call. The first thing I want to talk about is what is the call and who does it go out to? Secondly, what is the scope of the call? And thirdly, how do we yield our lives to the call?
So first of all, we need to start off by understanding what the call is, and who has the call. So I’m gonna answer that right now. Drumroll, please. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have the call. So that’s done. If you trusted Jesus Christ, you have the call to the mission. You don’t need to pray and ask God if you have the call, because you have it already. You have the call.
And how do I know that? Well, we go to the scriptures. Let’s look at Matthew, chapter 28, verses 18–20, and I like to call this the call to all. Because that’s what it says.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you to do, and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Secondly, then where are we to go…to engage the call? Well, let’s go back and look at that verse.
In verse 19, it says “go ye therefore, and teach…all nations.” Not some nations, not nations that are close by or easy to get to, but He says teach all nations. I can’t resist this. Can you say the word “all?” That’s not good enough. – [Audience] All. Okay. Alright. All nations. That’s the scope.
Now, what do you do? Well, you start stepping out. You get involved in some things.
Our church, Northwest Bible, is a mission-minded, outreach-minded church. The inner city ministry that’s going out in Columbus is amazing. Get involved. When we have our next trip to Malawi, we should have standing room only. Sign up. Go. Get involved, try some things. Then God will start opening these doors up.
And you know, and then, what else do we do? If you’re a young person here today, man, I… those days are gone. But I’m telling you, if you’re a young person today, design your life to support the call. You have the call, design your life. Your education, who you pick as a spouse, design your life so you can accomplish the call. If you’re an old dude like me, 60 years old, then redesign your life for the call. It’s not too late.
And then so many people say, well, I don’t have a skillset, I’m a this, or I’m a that, God doesn’t use that. The only thing God uses on the mission field is nurses and pastors and teachers, well, guess what. He took an IT executive old dude and turned him into a farmer. Who does that? This is the wrong guy, God, if you want farming. He took the business experience I had, and He is using it.
There is not a skill that anybody in this room has, there is not a past experience that you have that God cannot use for His glory, if only you and only I get on our knees and raise our hand, and say, God, here I am. Send me.
[Ken Harrell] Chris and Joni, welcome home. And we’re gonna start with you, Joni. Alright. What are some of the areas of ministry, of service, that you are involved in over there?
[Joni Weaver] The women of the Mulunguzi community church wanted an outreach, and what is our part in the great commission as women? And so the Lord gave us the widows, and so we’re still going out to the widows every month, and we teach them in a group, and we’ve been going out one on one, and learning about their lives and who they are, and some of them, we’ve been pouring into their lives for ten years, and we realized we weren’t even sure what their personal walk was with the Lord, so the Lord introduced me to a woman named Catherine Zinpita, I think her picture is coming up, and the Lord showed me that she was growing up, she was attending a church that did not teach the Gospel. And I know what that’s like, I was at a church for 38 years that did not teach me the truth of God’s word.
[Ken Harrell] Hmm.
[Joni Weaver] And I just remember being so mad at the church. It’s right here in scripture, why didn’t anybody tell me that you must be born again? And so, when I found out she was growing up in a similar church, I wanted to go out to her, even before we left for home.
She’s 81, and I don’t know how much time she has, and I just care for her so much. And so I took a few ladies from the church, and we went with the sole purpose of sharing the gospel with her. And, I shared the good news of Jesus Christ with her, and she had never heard the message.
And so I said you have to confess and believe Jesus, and you shall be saved, and you know, she was hesitant, because she had never heard the good news, and she didn’t know God was waiting on her response, and I’m trying to draw out a response from her, and she just said, oh, thank you for your prayers, thank you for praying for me, and I said, Katherine, I cannot say enough prayers to save you. Only the blood of Jesus, to cover your sins.
[Ken Harrell] That’s right. You’ve got to confess and believe with your own mouth and your own heart, the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved and she said yes, I want to receive Christ. And so, I just thank God for that opportunity.
How about that, folks. Amen. Yeah, yeah.
You’ve gotta remember, he’s gonna talk about this farming, this sustaining, of how to grow food over there, and I mean, he’s gonna tell you a story, throughout, I’ve been to that location a couple of times, and there was absolutely nothing. People didn’t know how to grow anything, the ground, you couldn’t grow on that ground, and what God has done, and, would you, I love this story and how God gave you the property over there. And it’s not just one little acre, it’s multiple, and it is, it’s not mind-boggling, it is supernatural. How God brought this about. I mean, it is a… it is the hand of God, far beyond, as good as you are, how that could happen. So, would you…
[Chris Weaver] Yeah, so, I don’t know if you recall, last time that we were presenting, I showed you a couple pictures of compost piles, because we had started with an organization called Foundation for Farming to teach the Malawians how to farm a different way, to get a higher yield, more organic, and so we had started creating these compost piles behind the Mulunguzi Church.
And we needed a plot of land so that we could demonstrate now, field preparation, preparing. We needed enough land, and we didn’t have it. So we were praying.
So a pastor had asked us to go with him to the board, we had a cookout, I think at the Praters’ house, and one of the prayer requests, at that time when we closed, was, and one of the directors, I don’t know who it was, said, “Just pray, God, please open the door for property, because that’s gonna be the next thing.”
Well, we go back, and so, Michelle, go ahead and start that one picture of the Google Earth. So we had looked around all over the place, and looked at two or three places, and God took us to this place here. This is called the Namikango village.
And so we went out there, and this guy was there, and he said this is the piece of land I want, so we’ll show you this, highlight this first piece of land. And so that’s about, in the green there, that’s about an acre and a half. And, I’m like, well that’s a little too much, we didn’t need that much, but this will work.
And so at the same time, we’re constantly contemplating, the reason we went over there were to start businesses, to create jobs. And it, hadn’t any idea what business at the time God wanted us to go in, but it was just starting to become obvious, we’re teaching farming, the Lord is giving us this land that’s a little more than we need, maybe He wants us to go into farming, and I had to validate that a couple times, because, are you kidding me?
So, anyway, we felt the leading of the Lord to do the farming, but then it became clear if you’re gonna have a farm, you need scale, you can’t make any kind of profit on an acre and a half. So, we started thinking about how could we expand, and people said, well, you can’t go and buy property pieces in a village, because there’s so many weird pieces, and the shapes are weird, and the people will never agree, families and brothers and sisters and aunts, you’ll never be able to do that, you’ve gotta buy an estate if you want to buy anything of any size. And the estates that were for sale were pretty expensive. So we said, well, you know what, if the Lord wants us to do this, He’ll make this happen.
So we sort of looked at this land, and we started figuring out who owns what and what shapes they are, and then, so, we had a couple rules, we weren’t gonna buy a piece of land in the middle of something so we couldn’t get to it, it was sort of stranded, and so it seemed like, well, it was, an impossible task to get any kind of size based on the way that the village is set up.
But God opened a door, and we got a place right next to that place. And then we got another place. And then another place, and another, and another. And each one of these transactions was a separate deal with a chief, a contract, a negotiation, getting families together, and one by one, the puzzle started to fill out. And these are the actual shapes of these pieces.
And I kept wondering, when is this gonna end? And it just kept coming. And it kept coming, and it kept coming. And the Lord kept adding puzzle pieces. More, and more, and more, and more. So that’s what the Lord did. 35 acres.
[Ken Harrell] Amen.
[Chris Weaver] So, the cool thing is, God picked a place for us, that’s a heavily Muslim community, very poor, most of the children here don’t even go to school. And, before we came in here, really, there was, it was hopelessness.
And since we started having work here, started a Bible study right under that tree, is where we had our first Bible study, and a year later, we planted a church. And so, now, the dream that I really have, that God has put in my heart, is that, can you imagine, in 10 years from now, we can leave here, and this entire village has been transformed with the Gospel.
That church is the head of the spear, the point of the spear, and people are working, they’re supporting themselves this village becomes self-sustaining, the entire community is self-sustaining, supporting their church, and we can leave here, and this village and that church can function without any help, any financial help from the West at all.
This is one of our fruits, which we call V1 where we have planted several vegetables, like, what do you see here, we have some cauliflowers, on that side of me, we have some broccoli, and behind that, we have some onions. So this is part of V1 where we have planted several vegetables.
According to one of our principles in Foundation for Farming, we don’t waste anything. So here are some of the materials we collect around the farm, we do not burn anything, we are using everything to make piles for making compost. So these are some of the piles we are so far making, using our resources God has provided us.
Wallace was talking about resources, and here in Africa, one of the greatest resources we have is the sun. And so, we have actually been able to harness that energy into solar power, and it is pumping, a solar pump that’s 41 meters in the ground, so all that irrigation that’s going on is all done by the solar power, and it’s an amazing thing to see happen.
And also, we were talking about resources, we have a lot of river sand and quarry dust around, and we’ve actually started taking that river sand and the quarry dust, and turning it into blocks. These blocks are not, don’t use any heat, it’s all water and compression, so there’s no deforestation issues around that, so it’s really pretty cool to see us being able to turn those resources into blocks, and saving the forest at the same time.
But the most important resource of all that we have are the people. In all of those shots you saw of all those straight rows, and perfectly laid out boxes, are all done by hand. Not a single machine was used on this farm.
And so what God is allowing us to do is to take human resources, give them jobs, teach them quality, and all along, share the gospel. And so what we do is, when we, we have 22 full-time workers, but we hire piece workers, part-time workers, quite often. And we’ve had up to 80 people at a time working here.
So what we do is we divide the work. So if we need 20 people, we will go to the Namikango Church plant and talk to the pastor and say, we want 10 people to come, and we want them to work here so they can support themselves and that church.
At the same time, then we go to the Muslim community to get the other 10. And so we go to the local chief, he gives us 10 workers, and so, 20 workers, 10 will be believers from our church, 10 will be from the community, and during the process of work, they’re hearing the gospel. They’re seeing the gospel lived out. And we’ve actually had some of those workers come and check out our church.
And finally, when we’re talking about resources, I want to thank all of you for your support, because, without that, none of this would be possible. And I’m not just saying this out of duty, this is heartfelt. Every single day, we’re on our knees thanking God for you guys and being part of this team. Because without your support, none of this would happen.
So I want you to feel part of this, every time you see those videos, I want you to realize that you are part of that field, you are part of every job, you are a part of that church plant, and you are a part of this gospel being spread in this village.
So I want to thank you so much, and we’re so grateful to you and all the things you do, and thank you for your prayers.