It was Monday and with Father’s Day behind them, Dr. Michael Lanier and Harrison Hunter were ready to team up once again for mission work in Africa. Both were veteran travelers. Each knew to expect hindrances that would attempt to prevent their departures; they just didn’t know how they would come. Unlike the year before when Harrison was forced to endure a series of mishaps that threatened his mission trip, this time it was Michael’s turn.
Having awakened to a stormy morning, Michael and his wife planned to get to the airport in plenty of time to check in and pass through security with time to spare. As he said goodbye to his wife and made his way to the ticket counter, Michael made the sickening discovery that although he’d made his way to the airport intact, his passport and money had not. Not yet ready to panic, he called his wife, who was still parked at the curb. “Honey, we need to go back for my passport” he cried. Moments later, they were on their way home, wondering if it was even possible to make the flight. (As an added note, cheap flights booked over the internet don’t allow for excuses; “tough luck” is their motto. You don’t get to make changes to your itinerary if you miss a flight.) At his wonderful wife’s suggestion, Michael called the airline to update his flights status. Are you ready for what followed? Not only had Michael been delayed by nearly 2 hours, but so had his flight—also by 2 hours. After making a call to their neighbor, who found Michael’s money and passport sitting in the rain on his front porch, the couple retrieved the goods and made their way back to the airport. It is safe to say the couple experienced a new high in their praise and worship along highways 121 and 183.
The 50 hours it took to travel from the USA to Malawi, Africa, witnessed little excitement and much sleeplessness. However, local entertainment was provided at Dulles Airport in Washington D. C. when plain clothed security gang-tackled a rather large man standing nearby Michael and Harrison. The view of a hand-cuffed man shoved against the wall was the last thing the men saw as they boarded their flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The flight entertainment was rather bland in comparison.
What seemed like an eternity later, the 2 men arrived at their destination Wednesday afternoon, where they were met by a local delegation of minsters and their partners in ministry, Pastor Happy Gondwe, Regional Director for International Partners in Christian Ministry (IPICM), and Rey Malunga, their host. With so much ministry planned, they went straight to the house for rest. Though suffering from 3 days of jet lag, ministry was scheduled to begin the next morning.
Thursday morning marked the beginning of the 2013 mission campaign. Pastor White Banda invited the team to minister at his New Covenant Church in Lilongwe. Harrison brought the message to an assembly of congregants and a host of visiting pastors. As the Spirit moved, 18 individuals came forward to receive Jesus Christ and salvation. Following the sermon, Michael led a time of prophetic ministry and then Harrison and Happy joined as many in the assembly came forward for healing.
The time of prophetic ministry was unusually stirring. Michael spoke of 4 categories that the Spirit wished to address. First, several women were concerned for lost loved ones in their family, followed by more women who were distressed in their marriages; some younger men who desired to become ministers but were held back for various reasons; and finally pastors who were struggling in their ministries and personal lives. The applicable persons, about 25 in all, came forward for private prophecy and prayer. Harrison and Happy started with the women at one end of the semi-circle, whereas Michael moved toward the pastors. The first man began to relate his problem and need to the translator. As the interpreter readied himself to express the pastor’s words into English, Michael said “Stop. The Spirit will reveal the man’s need.” For the next half-dozen men, God’s Spirit faithfully addressed each heart without their having to do so. (The last 2 men didn’t even bother to tell their needs to the translator.)
While Michael was still ministering to the pastors, Happy and Harrison began the time of praying for healings. Happy began by calling forth a woman he’d seen in a vision the night before—dark in color; in pain for a long time; who’d consulted a witchdoctor for relief. As the woman responded, she acknowledged the accuracy of Happy’s vision and was healed. Then for the next while, the 3 men prayed for approximately 21 souls in need. All were healed. Hallelujah!
Friday morning saw a continuation of events. Michael brought a teaching (as part of the IPICM School of Ministry) on the subject of healing. Although originally designed for pastors and leaders, due to so many interested in the healing works of the Spirit, the teaching was adjusted at the last moment to be shared with the congregation as well. Following the lesson, it was time for learners to practice healing on the many new visitors that had come to be prayed over. Happy began the healing session by calling forth a lame man he’d seen in a vision the night before. Although the healing was not complete at the time, no one was deterred as all expected the man to improve through the day. Michael then asked those who wished to pray for the sick to come forward. About a dozen pastors responded. Then on cue, the sick came forward to stand in 1 of 3 places where teams of 4 pastors were waiting. After the approximate 15 individuals in need received prayer, the service was concluded with a child receiving Christ Jesus as Savior. Only 1 or 2 healings were uncertain for the day.
Saturday, the team of 3 arose long before dawn to make ready for their journey to Chipata, Zambia, where they were to minister at the Abundant Grace of God Ministries church. About 20 miles short of the Malawian-Zambian border, the men abruptly experienced an event all-too-familiar that reminded them of a similar journey the prior year. Without warning, Rey suddenly pulled his vehicle off the road with smoke billowing from his front left wheel. A bearing went bad and locked. About 2 hours later, the Zambian host pastor arrived to pick up Michael, Harrison, and Happy, leaving Rey to repair his vehicle along with the mechanic that arrived with the pastor.
With everyone finally in place, Harrison brought the morning message to a nearly full house. When the invitation to receive Christ was presented, 102 souls crowded the altar. As the team inquired whether it was the first time each person professed Christ, all agreed it was.
Michael brought the evening message as he primed the church for the healing seminar he was to teach the next morning. Everyone was clearly excited for what they would experience the following day.
Sunday morning, the congregation of approximately 250 was in place by 9:00. Around 10:30, Michael began the healing seminar. Again, the message was altered so it could be shared with everyone present. As he finished half past noon, the time for ministry began. Happy had experienced 10 visions of various individuals the night before and it was time to share them with the appropriate individuals—none of which he had had previous knowledge of. During the ministry time, he called each of the people he’d seen to come forward. Only 2 of the night visions pertained to healing, whereas the rest involved a wide range of issues the Spirit wished to address. Most amazingly, each person testified as to the accuracy of what God revealed as Happy prayed for them.
Following the prophetic ministry, Michael called forth those in need of healing. About 100 individuals responded to the call. The team then broke into 3 prayer lines and for the next 2 hours, prayed over all manner of afflictions. When finished, the 3 men compared notes only to discover that everyone they prayed for was healed—all 100 people. As usual, everyone they prayed over was requested to do what they could not have done before receiving prayer, with only a small number that could not be immediately verified. What an amazing time.
As the evening approached, the Zambian host drove the team back to the home of their Malawian host in Lilongwe. Little did the team realize until later in the night they’d left a towel (Michael), bible (Happy), 2 phones, and most importantly, a “yellow card” proving one’s vaccination record (Harrison) in Zambia. Obviously, the disturbing revelation brought a measure of concern as no one is allowed entrance into Tanzania without a vaccination record.