A letter from Timothy and Rachel Stone leaving for Malawi
Hello from Greenport, New York!
By the time you read this, we will likely be on our way to Malawi. We will be leaving from JFK airport in New York City on November 6 and arriving the next day in Johannesburg, South Africa. From there we’ll fly to Blantyre, Malawi, and then drive an hour or so to our new home in Zomba. It is, as you might imagine, a busy time for us, assembling the many things we need (or think we need!) and getting all of our documents in order.
We’ve recently received word that due to various factors—including political turmoil earlier this year and some bad weather—Malawi is once again facing famine. In September President Joyce Banda attended the UN General Assembly and said, “We are facing a food crisis in Malawi. We need help. I am asking you to save the lives of the children in my country.” The Blantyre Synod, which has a long-standing partnership with the Pittsburgh Presbytery, is working with established ministries in Malawi to raise funds and to distribute food aid.
As we hear these calls for help in the form of food, it reminds us of a different call we heard nearly a year ago now—the call for a different kind of aid to meet a different kind of hunger. Christianity is growing more quickly today in Africa (especially south of the equator in countries like Malawi) than any religion has ever grown anywhere, throughout history! And there is a chronic shortage of trained clergy to "feed" people spiritually. Zomba Theological College, where Tim will soon be teaching, is doing important work to meet that need. When the school partnered with Presbyterian Mission Agency to bring an Old Testament professor to ZTC, we were honored and humbled to answer that call.
Tim often says that to have had the chance to pursue nearly 12 years of education in the Bible is a privilege, much as it is a privilege to grow up in a country like the U.S.A. and to never know hunger. But just as Christ calls us to share food with those who have none, because we are only giving from what God has given, we also believe that Christ is calling us to share the blessing of theological education.
Over the last months we have been visiting various churches in Long Island (New York) Presbytery and Sacramento (California) Presbytery, as well as attending the Malawi Mission Network meeting in Allenspark, Colorado. It has been a great encouragement to meet other people who are excited about the vibrant and growing church in Malawi, and who are committed to partnering with us as we work to help “send out laborers into God’s harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Thank you for your prayer and support. The next time you hear from us, God willing, it will be from our new home in the Warm Heart of Africa!
Peace and blessings,
Tim, Rachel, Aidan and Graeme Stone
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 117