My First Ninety Days: Bill Ashbury in Malawi

Bill Ashbury

I. Help Your Wife And Your Children Feel Comfortable In Their New Home.

Going to a new mission field can be very exciting for the man, but it can be avery fearful place for your wife and your children. It’s very difficult for your wife to leave her family, her friends, and her comfort zones in the States. The husband must help his wife to feel comfortable in their new place of service. Spend a lot of time with her these first three months.

Make sure she has four properly working appliances- an oven, a refrigerator, a washer, and a dryer. I know one missionary, who bought his wife a washer which would fill up with water, but his wife had to empty it out by hand. Life will be enough for your wife–don’t make it more difficult for her. Cooking can even take lots of time. A great book to have on hand is “Cooking From Scratch On The Mission Field.” It was written by Mrs. Neva M. Pugh and Mrs. Jan Cunningham, a mother and daughter of a former missionary. This book tells you wife how to make “Stovetop Dressing,” “Taco Mix,” soap, and even bread elements for the Lord’s Supper. Their address is as follows:
602 E. Hancock, McPherson, KS 67460 USA.

Make sure your wife has a nice home in a secure place. Her home doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be cozy and designed especially for your wife. Paint all the rooms with the colors she wants. Your wife is going to spend most of her time there. So make it pleasant for her. It is very important she has what she needs to do the work. Security is a factor in most countries. Crime is a big problem in every country. Make sure your home is in a secure place and that all the proper security measures have been taken. Being concerned about thieves coming around can work on your mind and literally drive your wife and children crazy. I hired a yard worker and a night security guard. I had two dogs and I later had to get a shotgun. One right, fifteen thieves came to our house. The Malawian government gave us permission to buy a shotgun after this incident took place.

Help your wife learn about the city or the village in which she lives. Take her to the grocery stores and the bakeries. Let her see some of the nice things they have to offer. Take her to the post office. Getting mail and parcels from family and friends is a very exciting thing to do. Find an experienced doctor and a nice hospital to relieve the concerns of your wife. Mothers like to know that when their children are hurting, they are able to get the necessary care they need. We used the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital who provided excellent care for our family. Make sure you have proper health insurance too. And be aware that some hospitals in foreign countries don’t accept American health insurance in paying your bills. These doctors and hospitals want their money, cash up front. You will be able to collect the money later from the States, but it may take some time to get that money. Our mission board helped us when our son, William, was born three months early. We had to fly him to South Africa in a special medical airplane. His bill was $70,000.00 U. S. Dollars. We asked the hospital director for a discount and he gave us 50% off our bill. WWNTBM helped us pay the bill, and we collected the money later from our American health insurance provider.

Make one day a “Family Day.” Friday was our family day. Your wife and children need to get out of the house at least one day a week for personal and enjoyment reasons. We would go to town and my wife would have her physiotherapy in the morning. Then we would eat at the Hong Kong Restaurant. After we did these things, we would go and get a cup of ice cream. Then we would go shopping for groceries and window shopping. I would also buy the family two candy bars for family night. After we got home and rested, we would play a game as a family. The one, who won the game the previous week, would choose the game for the next week. Every one of us looked forward to our “Family Day.” I had an American missionary tell me that he had never played one game with his girls. What a sad thing to say! Have “Family Devotions” on a regular basis. We would have “Family Devotions” on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We wouldn’t have them on Sundays or Wednesdays as we went to our church services those days. We would have one main subject for our “Family Devotions” every month. And we would memorize one Bible verse every month as a family together. I would read a devotional from “Our Daily Bread,” “Streams in the Desert” or from a well known preacher. I used the “Wordsearch Computer Program” for our devotionals. I would pray on Mondays and Thursdays. My wife would pray on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And our two children would pray on Fridays. On Saturdays, I would even have a question of the week, that if they answered my question correctly, they would receive MK 500.00 ( about 30 cents). Be consistent in your “Family Devotions!” It is shocking that missionaries on the field don’t have “Family Devotions” with their families.

II. Get To Know Your People.

Mingle with the people as much as possible. Walk the village roads with them. Ride the buses and minivans with them. Let your family do this with you too. Learn how to say personal and simple sentences like- “Who are you?” “What is your name?” “How is your family?” “What village do you come from?” These sentences will give you confidence in learning their language. And the people will like you more because you are trying to learn and to converse with them in their own language.

III. Let The Lord Break Your Heart Over The People And The Things That You See.

Go to the city and take a close look at the people there. Look at the street children, who have no Dad or Mother because they have died of AIDS. Look at the blind people, who are asking for a handout so their family can have some tea and bread. Look at the people, who have deformed legs and crawl around on the pavement trying to get some money for themselves and their families. No, God has sent you to your field of service to teach them how to live, not to take care of them. But when your heart will be broken beyond words; you will be a missionary fuIl of compassion.

Then look at their spiritual condition. They have been taught that by doing good works they will get to heaven. Look at the Muslims. They believe that by serving Allah, they will make it to heaven. Many of them say they are Christians, yet they don’t know God. Most of them haven’t heard the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have heard the gospel of men and of religion. Ask God to help you remember every person has a soul, and they will spend eternity somewhere. Look at the people God has entrusted you with. Let God break your heart over their spiritual condition.

Visit their religious bookstores and you will see that their books contain very little truth. I visited over ten religious bookstores in a two weeks time. I tried to find something that could be called Fundamental Baptist teachings. But I found from April 22nd, 1994 to this day, I have written over 200 Bible lessons in English and in their Chichewa language. I have people weep when I give them one of my Bible lessons. I have seen some of my Bible lessons read so much that the ink had been rubbed away. Our National Pastors have rejoiced because of the Bible lessons that I gave them. I have written Bible lessons on “Salvation by Grace.” I have written others on “Doing the Will of God,” “The Christian Family,” and “The Second Coming.” I have written Bible lessons on “How to Prepare Bible Lessons.” Let God break your heart over the bad and unscriptural Bible lessons that they have.

Last of all, make sure you know what God wants you to do. I came to be a church planter. God wanted me to win the lost, make disciples of believers, and to teach them all things. He also sent me to plant Bible-believing, Fundamental Baptist Churches. Church planting is actually the cheapest and the most rewarding ministry of them all. But I have met many missionaries who don’t know what God wants them to do. Some missionaries have changed their ministries from church planting to orphanages. Some missionaries just want to lead people to the Lord and boast of great numbers. Some become businessmen of the field. They make assorted cards and sell them for profit. They buy a bundle of clothes and sell them for profit. They have raised dogs for profit. Don’t be sidetracked. Find out what God wants you to do and do it with all your might.

Keep in mind that eternity is a long time. Visit the graveyards and look at the freshly, mounded graves of people who have died young and who have died old. God broke my heart over all of the fresh graves I saw. Funerals are too common here in Malawi, Africa. Remember there is a heaven to be sought and a hell to be shunned. Make a plan to reach the lost. Reach the masses with Gospel tracts. Give them the Gospel in the cities and in the villages. Go from house to house. Teach the saved National Pastors in Bible colleges. Teach them one on one. Teach them 50 by 50. And them when all is said and done; give all the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you will make plans and do these things the first three months on the field, God will bless you abundantly.

Bill Ashbury

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