Courageous in Malawi – The Resolution

This is the 3rd of 3 blog posts (taken from a newsletter she sent to her supporters) about the impact a young missionary, Anna, had on a tribe in Malawi (the Tumbuka tribe) when she decided she was going to show the movie, Courageous to the tribe.  They had never seen a white person or a movie…ever.  In the first post, Anna shared why she even thought this was something she should do.  Then, yesterday we followed the story to the tribe actually sitting down to watch the film, even though they didn’t understand the language.  There is really no other explanation than…God.  In today’s final chapter, hear what the men did AFTER they saw Courageous and how it changed their lives, their marriages and their families.  It may have changed the entire tribe for eternity!  Amazing.

They Watch Courageous in Malawi – Final Post

At the end, Auter, like in the film, encouraged the men to sign the Resolution promising they will care for their family. To protect and serve them. To be faithful to their wife. To love and honor her .

He asked them, “Are you willing to sign this? This is a very serious decision. A decision you make before God. This is not something you sign to please me or to please the man next to you. You are signing because you want to change. You want to be the man God created you to be. It’s going to mean that you have to stop drinking, to stop beating your wives, and instead start helping your wives. Help them carry water. Help them carry firewood. It means a whole different way of life. Are you ready? Are you willing?”

Tumbuka Tribe signing The Resolution from the movie, CourageousAnd you know what? 30-90% of the men who came to watch the film, first of all accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. They realized they had done wrong and needed God’s forgiveness. Then, most of them signed the Resolution (that was now translated into their Tumbuka language).

Auter continues, “There will be times you fail. But you get up and start again… and again. With God’s help you can do this.”

A few men commented that they were about to be married and that that was how they wanted their family to be. They wanted to give a copy to their future wife so she could hold him accountable to do what he promised!  Change is coming …. for the men and … for the women and …for their children. Not sure how quick. I know it won’t happen overnight but there is a beginning!  And I am excited!

Watch Courageous; Become Courageous

They are eager to start their new role in life. Here is an email I received from Auter this week about a man in a village we had visited back on July 26.

 “Hello Anna, When we were at Mchinkhula for follow up I met with a man who had attended the Courageous movie. He told me he is very, very happy because he now goes everywhere he can with his wife. He stopped drinking beer  & he talks with his family & helps his wife. He promised me that if you will come again, to come to his house so you can see for yourself.  God can change my country because of these teachings.   Auter.”

On Aug. 24th, the last day of our trip of visiting different villages, we had prearranged to meet with as many chiefs  and village headmen as possible to show them the film. Fifty-six came to watch Courageous. The response was the same. Amazing, amazing!  Many chiefs invited the team to come to their villages and do all the programs with their people there.

I just praise God. I had a vague plan to help a few abused women. God had another  plan. A much, much greater plan. His plan was, “I’m going to change the men from the inside out!”

All the men received a Tumbuka New Testament. They are encouraged to study God’s word together and grow in their new faith and in their new roles.

What a privilege to be a part of this mission. Whether you donate towards the Bibles or whether you pray for them, or whether you go to the mission field, everyone of us plays a part. All glory be to God.

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What an amazing story of how a film that was bathed in prayer for years before it hit the big screen and the TV screen, is being used by God as a tool to change lives in remote tribes across the world.  Because Anna stood firm and decided to do that which seemed impossible or unlikely (or even scary), these men and families lives are changed for today and eternity.

What are you and I doing each day that requires more than we can do on our own?  Let’s follow Anna’s lead.  For some of us, it might be doing the hard thing in our family.  It might be making the first step toward reconciliation with our wife, our children or another relationship.  Anna’s story should inspire us that nothing is too hard for God to overcome if we will just take the step of faith.

Courageous in Malawi – Part 2

This blog series is from a young missionary woman who shared this experience of how the movie, Courageous, helped to change the culture of a tribe she has been ministering to for a number of years.  The Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi is the tribe that she has been sharing her life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s such a great story that she decided to send it to Sherwood Pictures to let them know the impact that the movie, Courageous, was having half a globe away.  It’s a powerful story of how a person who was courageous in Malawi, helped changed many lives and how the power of film impacts culture and, in this case, for GOOD!  We will share her story  just as she wrote it and split it into three blog posts.  Her name is Anna Ebert and she has given us the permission to share her story.  We know you’ll be encouraged.  Read Part 1 here…

Courageous in Malawi – Part 2

Tumbuka Tribe getting Courageous in Malawi

After first teaching the team about the film and the message in it, I said, “Let’s show it in the afternoon and only allow men and older boys can come and watch the film”. I thought this way the men would not be intimidated. Auter, a native member of the team was put in charge of showing it. I thought he would be the perfect one of the team to do this. He does not back away from confrontations. He has gone through a lot in his own life and would be able to teach and understand the men.

Auter began by explaining to the men what the film was about  None of the men left. Well, I thought, that’s a start. Then he turned on the film. Every one sas motionless. Now I must add that they had never seen a white person before, and definitely had never seen a movie before.

When the movie ended, Auter explained it more to them. Then, I received the biggest surprise of my life. The men almost unanimously said , “We want that (pointing to the film). Our culture is bad. We have to change. We want to live with our wive’s and our daughters like they do in the film.”

Now you must keep in mind, that they did not understand a word. No, I shouldn’t say that. They did understand it . They understood it through seeing the actions. They saw the men in the film caring for their families, their wives, their children. They saw a father even risk his life for his baby…and they understood. They saw men giving their lives to the Lord and how it brought such peace to them.

These men were introduced to a whole new way of life. They never knew there was another way to live. “Why has no one ever told us this before?” “We only know our culture and our culture is bad!” “I never knew that there is another way!” … They never knew that there was another way to live! Can you imagine that? How thrilling it is to be able to give them new hope.

Well, by now, I was just jumping for joy inside. Is what I was hearing and seeing actually happening? Are they really that open to change? Are they really that sick and tired of their bad culture? Are they that tired of having no purpose in life? Is their life that void of meaning? Yes, yes, yes and yes. I realized that if we do not do what we are created for, there is a void, there is no meaning to life. These men have proven that. Their culture has robbed them of life – physical life, spiritual life.

Then, a problem arose. As we showed the film in village after village, the same question was raised again and again. They noticed that the men in the film had only one wife. “But I have two wives so what do I do?” “I have children with both my wives, now what do I do?”  (And no doubt that was a huge problem).

Auter explained to them, “I cannot tell you to divorce your second wife but I can tell you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savoir so He can direct you and show you the way to what you can do. What you can do is to come together and talk to your second wife with all your children and teach them the Word of God because they don’t know what has happened to you. You should treat your children in the [same] way the Bible teaches.”

One of the men responded with, “I will try to do that, please pray for me so Jesus can lead in my life. On my own I cannot make a good decision. Sometimes I treat my wife very badly and now I want to do what is right.”

Wow!!  Tomorrow we’ll see what the men did to put a “stake in the ground” as a statement about carrying out what they just saw and believed!

Courageous in Malawi–Part 1 of 3

The follow blog series is from a young missionary woman who shared this experience of how the movie, Courageous, helped to change the culture of a tribe she has been ministering to for a number of years.  The Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi is the tribe that she has been sharing her life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s such a great story that she decided to send it to Sherwood Pictures to let them know the impact that the movie, Courageous, was having half a globe away.  It’s a powerful story of how a person who was courageous in Malawi, helped changed many lives and how the power of film impacts culture and, in this case, for GOOD!  We will share her story  just as she wrote it and split it into three blog posts.  Her name is Anna Ebert and she has given us the permission to share her story.  We know you’ll be encouraged.

Courageous in Malawi–Part 1

courageous in malawiWhen I returned from my fourth mission to Malawi in 2011, I was determined to help the many abused women there. The culture of the Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi says that their purpose in life is to get together with other men and shoot the breeze while drinking beer (made of corn husks) and other alcohol. This is what about 80% of the men do from around noon until midnight every day of their lives. They drink all the resources the family has for food and necessities. All gone! How sad. Such a waste of their lives.  They believe their wives (or women in general) were created to serve them ……..after all, they are the head of the family.

When the women complain or cannot do all that is expected of them, the men either beat them, divorce them, or marry a second wife to “help” his first wife. Women are not allowed to fight back, they are only allowed to cry. Because so many women were abused or left with nothing after a divorce or now have a second or third wife to live with, I really had a huge burden to help the women. I didn’t know how exactly but I had some ideas. The only problem I had was that the problem was bigger than I knew what to do with. How can anyone help hundreds of thousands of abused women? I had heard about the story of the 1,000’s of star fish that had washed ashore and a man throwing one back into the water and thus saving its life and was asked does it do any good? Well, yes, to the one starfish it did. I thought I will save that one woman.

It was only a couple of weeks before I was to leave for northern Malawi that I felt a strong urge to bring the “Courageous” film along.  For some who may not have seen this movie, it’s a film that teaches the Biblical role of a man and of a father. I knew this film to be totally opposite the Tumbuka culture. What I didn’t know was how it would be received. How will they react? Would the men rip up the screen? Would they destroy the projector? (as my native Tumbuka team was afraid of) Would they just shake their heads and walk away? Or, perhaps, maybe, would they take it in and apply  it to their lives? I didn’t know what to expect. But I took it anyways. I always love a challenge.

And so, I brought the film with me along with many posters and a copy of the resolution that went with it.  However,  there was another issue. The film is in English!  Why even bring it, What was I thinking?

But there are a few,  maybe only 5%, who could understand it to some degree, so I decided I’ll work with them.  (to be continued…)

Tomorrow’s post…we’ll find out what happened when Anna showed the film to the tribe and they became Courageous in Malawi!

Advice Worth Taking–3 Keys To Teaching Your Teenager to Drive

teaching teen to drive

Guest post by Bill Eyster, Executive VP and COO of FamilyLife and Fatherhood CoMission Board Member

Advice (Opinions) are like noses…

If you are around people, you undoubtedly are getting all sorts of advice. Someone said, “Opinions are like noses, everyone has one”. Those opinions often show up in the form of advice in all sorts of areas…

People give stock tips – wish I had bought Apple a few years ago when a friend suggested. Another friend recommended I get in on the Facebook IPO!

Diet aids give advice on how to trim down. Those pills that cause the pounds to just fall off sound like great advice. Why go through all the pain and suffering of exercising when all you need to do is take a pill and before you know it you are a new slimmer version of yourself.

Match making companies give plenty advice on who you should date. Just plug in your parameters and expectations and bam… you find your soul mate.

Advice worth listening to…

Needless to say, there is plenty of advice out there. But at the risk of adding to an already overcrowded array of advice to choose from, I want to share some that I got from a wise friend of mine named Crawford Loritts.

A group of friends were out to dinner one night and as each of us shared what was going on in our lives, I mentioned that our daughter had just gotten her learners permit. Now any time this topic is shared in a group of people, the reactions range from hysterical laughter to looks of pain, sort of the, “better you than me” look.

3 Keys to Teaching Your Teenager to drive

After the group settled down and had their fun at my expense, Crawford spoke up. He shared that when he started teaching his kids to drive, he had three unwavering rules that his kids had to agree to without question:

1.) Do everything I tell you

2.) I am always right

3.) Don’t say, “I know”

Now understand that Crawford is a well respected pastor, author and speaker. He and Karen also have some terrific kids that are now young adults with fantastic families of their own. So, if Crawford is giving advice I am very likely to take heed.

The next day, I sat down with my daughter and outlined these three simple rules. I didn’t give Crawford appropriate attribution but I was firm and explained that a condition of her ability to drive was that she agrees with these rules. Needless to say, she agreed.

I cannot tell you how effective these rules were. I was amazed at how simple yet profound they were as we worked through the challenges of helping our daughter and then later, our son, become a safe and effective driver.

So, take some advice from me (passed down from Crawford), use these rules when you start teaching your teenager to drive. You will be glad you did.

P.S. Too bad Crawford wasn’t the one who suggested I by Apple a few years ago!

By: Bill Eyster

In addition to being on the Board of Directors for the Fatherhood CoMission, Bill is the Executive Vice President and COO of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru (formerly, Campus Crusade for Christ) and one that was created on the principle that the family provides the foundation for society. The ministry offers a wide range of tools to help families become stronger.

 

Dad, Are You Tempted Today to Think You Don’t Matter?

Guest post by Leon Wirth, Sitting member of the Fatherhood CoMission Board and Executive Director with Focus on the Family

It’s natural for us to struggle with this question.

Sometimes we really do wonder…we wonder as dads if what we do really makes a difference in our family’s life.  Do dads matter?  What if I wasn’t there?  Would they miss me?  Do they really need me?  Don’t they get most of what they need from their mom, the church, their teachers and coaches and friends?

The temptation comes because we feel discouraged, questioning whether or not we matter at work, at home and elsewhere.  It comes when we wonder what it would like to be “free” from our family, without the daily grind that comes with family responsibilities.  It comes when we’re tempted by the enemy to fantasize about starting a new life, a “mulligan” of sorts.

However and whenever you are tempted to think you don’t matter, whatever the reason, I challenge you to “perish the thought.”  Think about the importance of your dad, present or not, in making you who you are.  Look at the many examples in Scripture of reasons that dads are important and dads matter (and the Heavenly Father most of all).

Dads matter…an example

But if you need a practical example to encourage and inspire you, if it helps (and it sure does me), I urge you watch the following video, or find your favorite similar such video, and bookmark it to watch it from time to time.

Because few videos capture the importance of a dad in a family’s life, without any words needed, then a video that shows the homecoming of a military dad.

Wow.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ashamed to admit these scenes bring tears to my eyes every time.

Look at the joy.  The relief.  The desire to be in each other’s arms.  Notice how the kids drop whatever they’re doing?  Do you think there is anything more important than being in their dad’s arms at that moment?  Do you think they’re thinking about sports, relationship problems, money, video games, homework, or what anyone else around them is thinking?

Dads can stir courage into their kids

The courage of the kids, in a way, is remarkable.  They seemingly could care less about anyone else.  Everything else seems to melt away as they rush to their fathers.  Do you think they care what their peers think about them?  Not a chance.

Dads can stir the courage and hearts of their kids in powerful ways.

In fact, study after study actually shows that the impact of a dad is powerful.  Dad’s positively impact a child’s social, academic, relational, emotional and spiritual health.  Some studies even show the impact of a dad is greater than the impact of a mom in certain aspects of a child’s life.  That’s not to say dads are better, but it is to say that dads certainly matter.
Yes.  It’s true.  Dads really do matter.

Maybe that’s what these kids in the videos know better than we do as dads sometimes.

Those families are not perfect any more than yours or mine are perfect.  They have problems.  The dads eventually will get crossed up with the kids over something, just like you and I do with our kids.  But at the moment of that reunion the message is simple:  Dad, I’m so glad you’re here, you’re home.

The first question this raises for me is about my relationship with God.  Do I enjoy my time with God like these kids do who are reunited with their dads?  Do I run into His arms to tell Him I love Him?  Do I accept His love in return as these kids so eagerly do?

The second question is for me as a dad in my family:  Do I do everything I can in my time with my family that they’ll look forward like that to my coming home?

Sometimes I travel for work.  And I love coming home and hearing “Daddy’s home!”  But how I leave, and how I come home…where my head and heart and attitude are…can either help or hurt that “re-entry.”

But even on regular days, wouldn’t it be great if my kids and wife were like those families in the video, wanting my presence and longing for my hugs and words of love? Again, how I leave home and how I come home either helps or hurts my return.

The bottom line is this:  I want to live in such a way that I’m missed, that my return home is exciting, that my presence is meaningful.

Yeah, when I watch those videos, I want to be THAT DAD, like one of our great military servicemen, who gets that kind of reception.

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Leon C. Wirth is a Christian speaker, husband and father. He serves as Executive Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family and host of the Dad Matters podcast with Dr. Greg Smalley. He is the co-author of the book The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Leon lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.