On Sunday morning we arrived at Mchengatuba for tea at 8:00 am. Really though we were there for a preview, for a review, for a time get the story straight. Norman walked me through his version. He highlighted the way the choir were quick to claim that the money given to pay for the roof of the church was indeed theirs.
For the past year, Norman and his wife Jennifer have suffered in various and sundry ways because of the attempt made on behalf of some of the choir members to capture some of the funds raised during their tour of the North Country. The stories they told, the rumors they mongered, and the, well, the lies took a toll. Rocks have been thrown through Harra’s windows and then last month Chimwemwe’s father came with some men and took the Harra’s furniture out of their living room and threw it onto the front lawn saying, “we are throwing you out.”
The police were called in to address the malay and ultimately they arrested Chemwemwe’s father and the others. (They were released the next day, but it was all in the papers.)
Listening to the foolishness that had transpired I couldn’t help but wonder how God endures us. How often he laments the choice of a church to bring the redemption of his son to the world.
I made it clear what I was going to say and then during the church service I offered the same with a twist. The twist was a the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. I said, after all the offerings were taken and all the bills were paid it was just like the loaves and the fishes, there were leftovers.
What was interesting was that before the church service many of the choir members came and greeted me. Afterward only Anthony. I am still not convinced Anthony understands a great deal. Anthony is consistent with many Malawians who were most likely malnourished as children. There is only a certain level or critical thinking possible for him and many others.
Afterwards we gathered in Norman and Jennifer’s home to share a meal. There was a palpable sense of relief in the air. It was as if a corner had been turned. I didn’t share this feeling.
My unease came from seeing Chemwemwe’s father seated in the first row of pews during the worship service. That is a bold man. Something tells me my explanation to the congregation may have garnered some support for Rev. Harra, but the real battle was yet to come. It may just be my imagination, but people like that are hard to beat. There was a look on his face that said, let us see what tomorrow brings.
Kathy noted this as well: during the service, Lusaka came over to him, knelt down and spoke something to him. Now people come and go during a Tambuka service all the time. So it wasn’t odd that someone walked through the worship service to say something to someone. It was odd that he did so with this man on this Sunday.
I hope for the day when I can sit with both Lusako’s and Chemwemwe’s families and listen to what they have made of all we gave to their children. It will be interesting to hear how they justify what they have done and said. Something tells me it will also be sad.