Hello From Malawi
Hi, we’re Matt and Lisa Sliva. Our missionary journey began on a chilly February morning in 2013 in the kitchen of our newly purchased home, two months after we got married when Matt turned to me and said, “So what do you think about moving to Malawi?”
Thus began a somewhat circuitous and fairly unconventional path towards missions. We didn’t actually move to the capital city of Lilongwe, Malawi for another year and a half after that first February conversation, but ever since we did, we’ve lived more fully than we could have imagined.
We lived in Malawi for about two years before a quick shift to the Philippines. We were only in the Philippines for about a month, and then returned to Baltimore to regroup.
It was during that first winter back in Baltimore that we found ourselves in Federal Hill attending our first services for what would later become the congregation of Sailors Union Grace Church. Before we knew what was happening, we found ourselves fully immersed in renovating the current building we know and love as Sailors Union Grace Church. Matt wore the project manager hat, and I helped organize paint nights in the yet-to-be-heated old building.
It was a season of team building, personal growth, and, most of all, reverent amazement for the way God was moving in our little corner of Baltimore city. Less than a year after attending our first service, we had the profound privilege of sitting in the newly refurbished pews of our very own church building as the lights went down for our inaugural Christmas concert. It was a night to remember.
Fast forward to 2018 and we once again found ourselves boarding a plane for Malawi. The season at SUGC had prepared us for a return to foreign missions. We have been in Malawi ever since, and it has been another memorable season of growth. Matt was ordained as a pastor in April 2019, and about six months ago a team of us, under Matt’s leadership, began commuting to a small fishing village called Senga Bay, about two hours from Lilongwe on the shore of Lake Malawi, to start a church.
We have been amazed at the hand of God moving among these wonderful people. In just six short months, our Sunday morning services already feel crowded inside the classroom we rent, and my Sunday school class is bursting at the seams! We have a budding women’s ministry that meets biweekly and is already growing strong. On top of all of that, we are running a full-time free Bible college that meets on weekends.
Needless to say our hands and hearts are very full. With all of this comes spiritual warfare, however, and we could never do this without your love, prayers, and support. If you would like to partner with us in prayer and/or financially it would mean the world to us. Here are a few specific areas you could focus on:
- We are still commuting every weekend from Lilongwe for Bible college and church services. We are praying for direction about moving to Senga Bay since fuel prices are high and staying in a motel every weekend quickly loses its adventurous lustre.
- We couldn’t do this alone, and the team we have with us has been invaluable. Please pray for wisdom and unity among us as we navigate the nuance of a multicultural team in the midst of a very traditional cultural village.
- It is our sincerest hope that people in our congregation will begin to sense the personal drawing of Jesus in their hearts and lives in tangible ways. Basic needs are never certain to be met for most people here, yet we believe in a God who says He will always provide what we need (Phil. 4:19). It is our prayer that as people grow spiritually, they will begin to discern God’s wisdom and direction for their lives personally.
- It is about ten degrees hotter in Senga Bay than Lilongwe, so sometimes the heat can be a bit oppressive. Combined with the long commute and rigorous weekend schedule, we can find ourselves a bit exhausted by the end of it. Pray we have the stamina to continue to serve there for as long as God asks us to.
- Finances are always an area of trust and faith towards God. Beginning a church contains a plethora of little expenses that can add up over time. On top of that, our entire team is self-supported so, in addition to the daily cost of living, the expense of the church, at least for now, falls upon us. We believe in the same Phil. 4:19 we encourage our church members with, and we trust He will provide what is needed.
The door is always open on this side of the equator, so let us know if you ever want to see what God is up to in Malawi. In the meantime, you can follow along with us on Instagram at @theslivas and be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything!
Until then, Mulungu akudalitseni! (“God bless you!” in Chichewa, the local language.)