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September 2016

Lutheran Mobile Clinic (CAMM)
Malawi Africa
September 2016 
      There's a gospel song by Marvin Sapp that we sang at St. Marcus called 'Praise Him In Advance".  The first few verses go like this:
I've had my share of ups and downs
Times when there was no one around
God came and spoke these words to me
Praise will confuse The Enemy

      My favorite line is, ‘Praise will confuse The Enemy’. I love the idea of ruining the devil’s efforts to drag us down by singing praises back at him when he’s doing everything he can think of to make us curse and cry. I don’t know how many of you are football fans, but the image of confusing the enemy with praise is personified for me in retired Green Bay Packer, Donald Driver. He was extremely small for his position, graduated from a school no one heard of and was even homeless for a time. Despite those challenges, he became one of the most successful receivers in Packer history. Perhaps what he is most remembered for, however, is his smile. He has a smile that can light up a stadium. He didn’t just smile when he was running in for a touchdown untouched by the opponent; he saved his biggest smiles for when someone was trying to knock him down. Whenever he would be knocked down by a defender’s hit, he would jump up off the ground and flash those pearly whites. His enemy in the game was trying to send the message of, ‘Stay down, and remember that pain the next time you think about getting up to do something good,’ but his winning smile’s unspoken reply was, ‘What pain? It’s gonna take a lot more than that to keep me down. See you in the end zone.’ I don’t doubt many times he did not want to get up. Yet, he chose not only to get up, but to get up with joy and energy. How frustrating and infuriating that must have been for his opponents and how inspiring it was for his teammates and fans. He definitely played as if he was ‘Praising in Advance’. 

     You might be wondering what Donald Driver and a Gospel praise song has to do with LMC this month. Well, perhaps you remember my prior letter that if something could go wrong, if something was going to break, if bad news was going to be delivered, February 2016 was the month for it. Just when the costly repairs were piling up at a higher than average rate, we were being told a significant source of our funding was being taken away due to Malawian government cuts. It seemed the timing couldn’t be worse, and we had more questions than answers to our new financial challenges. We did not know how we would meet these challenges. 1 John 5:14-15 reminds us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” Did you notice that John says our confidence comes in knowing we already have what we ask for? Not will have, but have it right now. That’s because it’s already happened for God. He tells us that we can start praising him now, Praising Him in Advance, for the answers to our prayers. Even if we don’t see them yet, it’s a done deal.  

     The Devil was trying to knock down LMC.  We did not know how we would solve seemingly significant short-term and long-term financial issues, but thanks to the reminder in 1 John, we took the advice of the writer to the Hebrews when he said, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:16). We presented our concerns to God and to you. We have received such generous outpouring of support. Some of the unexpected gifts are significant donations from the amazing students and staff at Wisconsin Lutheran High School (my alma mater) and Shoreland Lutheran High School (Amanda’s alma mater) towards a solar energy system at our property. This will not only help us keep the property and medications safe during the current frequent power cuts but also save a significant amount of money on energy costs for years to come. Students at many of our grade schools have raised an amazing amount of support for our Nutrition services through the LWMS kids c.a.r.e. program which should cover the costs of our Nutrition Program for several years. A huge blessing as Malawi is currently enduring one of the worst famines and food crises it’s seen in years. This among many other individual gifts has been daily reminding us of another thing God tells us through John, “…we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him…There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:16,18a) We can be fearless in the face of adversity because of God’s loving faithfulness.

     I doubt Donald Driver ever imagined being a Super Bowl Champ with the Packers when he was living out of a U-Haul at 14.  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” We did not know how our prayers would be answered. LMC is being sustained by God’s unfailing grace delivered through the prayers and gifts of each one of you; that same sustaining grace belongs to each and every one of us in Christ. Even when our bodies and spirits may be aching from the last blow The Enemy has delivered, let’s be like Donald Driver. With 1 John confidence, we can jump right back up, flash the devil a smile and say, “Nothing you can do is gonna keep me down. God’s got this. See you in the end zone.”

Yours in Christ, Alison Westphal