Edmundas B -Malawi

All these ”news” reaching us these days are really sad. Actually, most of this information is not new at all for those who were working at Kalibu Mission in Malawi. It was not an easy decision to write this letter, but I understand that telling the truth can not harm anybody. Truth can set us free. I pray that God would empower me to tell this truth with love, that what is weak would not be broken but healed.

I and my family have spent five and a half years living in Kalibu mission, Malawi.

I know I was looking for something powerful, for somebody strong enough to help me to fulfill God’s plan in my life. I don’t think we made a mistake by going to Africa. We had a fantastic experience there.

If to go a bit back, our first Christian leader in Lithuania was the first person who had told me about Jesus. I didn’t like the way he was aproaching me, but I needed God. I didn’t choose him – God gave that family to us. We were praying and studying the Word together on Sundays. My leader was ”beating” me with the Word, telling me how bad I was. I was trying to be a better Christian, but never became one. One day I have told my wife that from that day I was not a Christian any longer. Not  because I didn’t want but because I was not able to be. My wife Kristina asked me to open Ezekiel 34:2-16. “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds ” – (Oh Lord, this is the only thing I can do – to prophesy against, – I was thinking at that moment). ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
My eyes were opened, I understood that the Bible speaks about our leader. I remembered all those of our friends who were searching for The Lord, who were gathering together every Sunday, and who were ”beaten” by this leader, and ”scattered around”.

And here came the word of consolation:

‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.  And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

This chapter had set us free and restored our lives. But, it happened that the story had repeated itself.

At the end of January 2006, my family arrived in Kalibu Mission in Malawi (Africa). How did we get to know Michael Howard? It happened that in 2004 Kristina went to a conference in Finland where Michael Howard was preaching. She was inspired by his message and invited Michael to come and share his teaching in Lithuania. He agreed and we started organizing conferences for Michael Howard in different cities and towns. Believers were inspired greatly by his burning passion for God and His word. Groups of intercessors were formed in different locations. Believers wholeheartedly prayed for the revival in Lithuania. Everyone was so excited and thanked God for what had started in Lithuania. It felt as if a new wave of revival is about to hit Lithuania. The word Michael Howard preached was so dynamic and so on fire.

We were glad we could be part of the work of spreading the message about the power of intercession in Lithuania and beyond. Kristina left her work just to have enough time to translate as many books of Michael as she could.

For several years we had a desire to work in Africa. We were thinking about going to Ghana because of my previous missionary trip to that country where I saw an opportunity to live and do God’s work with my family. But, because we were already fully involved in working with Out of Africa ministry, we were suggested by Michael to work with him in Malawi instead of going to Ghana.

(We wrote him a letter. We have received the answer that he is pleased to accept us in his mission.)

I (Edmundas) shared with Michael that I would like to be engaged in tourism. I got the approval, that I will be able to do a tourism business. So, in January of 2006 we went to Malawi. Michael told us that we have to buy tickets from him because it was cheaper, but actually it was not. At that time we couldn’t understand why he was so annoyed by our desire to look for a cheaper option. When living in Malawi, we found out that everyone had the same problem when buying air tickets. It can seem to be a small issue, but it wasn’t small for Michael at all. Many missionaries were upset because of this control and because they had to lose quite big money each time they wanted to come to or leave Malawi. We had received our first ”baptism” just after our arrival to Blantyre Airport. It was a light one – by ”sprinkling.”

Michael was so frustrated and impatient and he was shouting at us while we were still going through the passport control. He was angrily shouting over heads of other people that we should move faster and that we should not stop for checking our suitcases (which was not possible, of course). When we left the Airport building, Michael poured all his rage and anger on a driver who for some reason was a few minutes late. On our way to Kalibu mission a few other locals were screamed at through the car window for whatever reason. During that first hour in Malawi, we had been seeing a different Michael Howard – not the one who smiles and preaches about love in Europe. Our four children were sitting frozen and silently in the car not knowing what is going to happen next. No one wanted to say a word. Well, we knew we could not be offended; and once we came to Kalibu, we would have to learn how to work together. Just one thing I didn’t want to learn: to treat people like that. I don’t believe love is like that.

At the very beginning of our stay in Kalibu two thoughts came to my mind: How are we going to get out of here? Are they going to take our passports?

There in Kalibu, we got under the very strong control of a man, and into a brainwashing process. I always joke that brainwashing is very good because everyone has some rubbish of one or another kind in the brain and it has to be washed away. I really wanted to change my thinking in a positive way.  And so many statements of Michael are so absolutely right. But, like Michael himself says, ”it never ceases to amaze me” how people can teach others and not see themselves.’. So, the message was: die, die, die!

Listen and obey! Yes, I wanted to ‘die’ to myself and live for God. But the code hidden in his message was that we had to obey a man.

Again and again we had to believe that black is white, and white is black; that sin we were seeing there was holiness, and humble people who were working at Kalibu Mission actually were rebels. Michael liked comparing  missionaries and other people, pointing at ‘bad’ ones and giving an example of ‘good’ ones. It was always confusing, because it was wrong. Just black and white! No one was so bad, and no one was perfectly good. The missionaries and Bible students all were sincere and wonderful people. Not perfect, indeed. The plan was to make everybody to believe that he or she is so bad.

We were accommodated in the beautiful house on the hill. We were very grateful to Michael for that. For a while we lived for free, and then began to pay the rent. We sold our house in Lithuania to have finances to live in Malawi. In the first church service on Sunday we were honored by introducing us as a wonderful and committed family. When we said that we came to Malawi for two years (which was agreed with Michael), Michael was very angry and told us that we said that we were coming for good. We were shocked – we couldn’t understand how he could forget and deny what was agreed beforehand and what was even in our correspondence.

Well, after some consideration we made a decision to work with Kalibu longer – for five years. We gave all our hearts to the projects we were advised to start. Sadly, we were never allowed to finish any of them. It looked as if Michael didn’t want us to have success. For example, one day Michael asked us why didn’t we go to villages. We started doing that with a big joy. We liked going to villages, preaching and teaching people, helping them in their daily life. We used to come back with wonderful testimonials about how people’s lives were changing.

Some time later he started shouting at us, why did we go to those villages and who told us to do that. It was really confusing. So, we were banned from going to villages. Everything was terribly controlled and personal initiatives were not allowed. We were dying, dying, dying…

After a few years of living there we could feel that we lost our dreams and ambitions. Only one thing left – to obey Michael and to help the mission grow and prosper. There was a fear of man in the campus and everyone could feel it. There was still some fear of God left. I was asking God to give me understanding of things we were in. I prayed that God would send Michael a Spirit of repentance. I obeyed a man in things I agreed with and things I didn’t. Nevertheless, I knew that there was a line I could not cross. I knew I have to obey God more than a man. There were moments when I could not obey even Michael.

For example when we were robbed I could not declare more stolen property for an insurance company than it really was though I was strictly told to do so.

Also, many times I couldn’t pray what we were told to pray during intercession meetings. Often we were told to pray against righteous people while in reality Michael had to repent first of all. Another time, one of the students was asked to give an explanation for the fact that we prayed for freedom (just three of us were praying that time). He was asked what kind of freedom we were praying for. Then he was forbidden to pray with us.

Beatings was another issue. At the beginning we could not believe that staff and students were beaten by Michael and Paisley. Kristina was absolutely shocked when she saw for the first time how Michael with no reason was slapping to the face his four house boys in his kitchen. When she asked why he was doing it, Michael put his fist in front of her face and asked if she wanted one… We were explained that this is true love and that otherwise people will not change, will not leave their sins, and will not become humble.

The time has come when we got used to everything what was happening in the mission. The most frustrating was that we did not have a single person whom we could fully trust. We could not tell to anyone what we were experiencing, thinking, feeling and going through, – all because Michael knew how to extract information from people about people he wanted to know. Any careless word about another missionary, an employee or a student could provoke the wrath of Michael, and the person was publicly  humiliated. It looked as if he was living by the saying, ‘Divide and rule’.

After five years in Kalibu, we realized that it’s time for us to leave. However, to leave the mission was not so simple. We were family of six people. It took quite a long time to plan everything, to organize finances, and find the most appropriate time to leave. We left in the summer of 2011, after five and a half years we have spent in Africa. Despite all the difficulties, troubles and painful experiences, we are absolutely blessed that we had an opportunity to live in Malawi. We enjoyed the beauty of the country and have met many wonderful people there. Some of them will stay friends for life.

p.s. Even before going to Malawi, I had shared with Michael from the book of Ezekiel Chapter 34. I don’t know what he thought. We still love him and pray that the eyes of his heart would be opened to the truth.