Two years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Malawi with Michael Weaver on one of Summit’s Africa teams partnering with Children of the Nations (COTN). Our team was tasked with constructing new roofs on homes in the village of Mgwayi. With Michael’s background in structural engineering, he was a natural fit for this kind of work. But what started out as a very task-oriented trip, quickly turned out to be something so much more.
When Michael first discovered that the need this team would meet was so in line with his vocation, he felt this could be a place where he could make a real impact—he felt confident his team could accomplish this task despite the limited time they would have there.
But things soon changed in-country. Michael says, “During the beginning of our time there, I was feeling a bit uncertain because I thought we were going to be more project-focused, but I was surprised that half or even more than half our time was focused on the people there and experiencing their lives. At first I was frustrated, because I’m a task-oriented person, and our task was to construct roofs.”
But Michael quickly changed gears. “At the time it was challenging, yes,” Michael begins. “But looking back, it was actually the relational time spent with the Malawians we were working alongside that touched me a lot more than I thought it would.”
Michael quickly began realizing he was there for a greater purpose—that God not only wanted to do work through Michael, he wanted to do work in him as well.
Michael’s most significant moment of the trip happened one morning under the gazebo where we began each day doing devotionals with the COTN staff. During a time of song and prayer, he felt the Holy Spirit come to him in a way like never before. “Before that, I had read, and been taught, and knew about God,” Michael explains. “But when that happened I felt so much peace and joy. I suddenly felt like my relationship with God was more than just knowing about him—it was the moment I truly believed, as if the knowledge had transitioned from my head to my heart.” That day on the trip, Michael went on to communicate to our team what had happened that morning.
He describes now that, even though he had experienced something so significant in an unfamiliar cultural context and with people he had only known a few months, this group absolutely felt like people he could express it to. “I had heard them share their own stories, and it made things a lot more comfortable for me,” Michael explains. “Once you’re outside your comfort zone, it’s easier to step a little bit further outside. It’s like running a marathon. Once you’ve already run 20 miles, you feel good about running the rest.” And he found himself in a setting where the people surrounding him were encouraging him to run those extra miles and to take those extra steps.
Michael had experienced one of the surprising truths about vulnerability. It’s contagious.
Often all it takes is one person sharing something personal to inspire others to do the same. And while it may have been sparked in another country, God has leveraged this experience to further his Kingdom not only in Malawi, but also in Michael’s relationships with family, friends, and coworkers back home. It has given him greater confidence to share boldly with others the work God is doing around the world and even in his own heart.
By stepping outside his comfort zone, God used Michael’s faith within the context of community to push him forward into further acts of obedience. He didn’t need to go to Malawi to find community, but that’s what he encountered there. My hope and prayer for each of us is that whether we find ourselves already in community, or debating entering one, we faithfully take the next step in whatever direction God nudges.
God has fashioned each of our hearts to meet a need in this broken and hurting world. This weekend, as we celebrate Africa Sunday, we will see what God has been up to in Africa in and through people like Micael, and how we all can be a part of it. Join us!