Cover story: ‘The God who cares’- SLC 2017


Our annual Spiritual Life Conference (SLC) is a time to come together to relax, refresh, and enjoy good Bible teaching. This year, we had a new venue and learned some new skills – some more useful than others!

How do you transport a cheese ring from one end of a line to the other using only a straw held in your mouth? Or how much dry spaghetti can you get into someone’s hair – and what is the best hairstyle to allow the maximum load? Or how can you decorate a cup cake to make it look like it’s come from a professional patisserie?

These are three ‘skills’ that were learned at the 2017 SLC – the last probably being the most useful and long-lasting!

SLC is the chance, at the end of July, that everyone in the field in Malawi has to come together to meet up, renew friendships, relax and enjoy fun and sound Bible teaching. This year, SLC2017 also had a new venue. Having travelled to Kamuzu Academy in Kasungu for many years, the organisers this year took us to Blue Waters, a hotel complex on the shores of Lake Malawi. This opened up new possibilities for the children’s and youth work, as well as giving the adults plenty of space to unwind and good facilities in which to enjoy the Bible teaching.

A useful skill? Intense concentration needed to transport the cheese ring from one end of the line to the other

The Bible teaching was led by Revd John Thomas, recently retired senior pastor of King of Kings Baptist Church in Cape Town and the founder of a Church-based HIV and AIDS organisation called Living Hope, which was originally started to meet the HIV and AIDS needs within its greater community.

In addition, Mark Conard, a Chaplain with the SIM Health Ministries Team, also spoke on ‘Member Care’ and was available as a listening ear for people during the week.

John (left) concentrated for three days on our response to the poor and needy. He did this by walking us through three key thoughts; What does Isaiah say about being eager for God? What did Jesus say about the poor and the needy? and What does God require of you?

“Our personal theology may be based on one passage of scripture or another,” he said. “But when it comes to the poor and needy it is all over scripture.”

He illustrated this as we worked through Isaiah 58, Micah 6, sections of the four Gospels and also Paul’s letters.

His final talk was a warning not just to those at SLC but to Christians around the world. Under the title ‘God’s people are like blocked-up wells’, he warned about the dangers of our becoming blocked up and not allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through us.

Share and Prayer: Time was taken each morning to pray for the team in country, on home assignment or due to be joining us

“Why is it a struggle walking with God?” he asked. “And why is it that we often lack the Holy Spirit?”

In answer, he looked at the Philistines’ war tactics of stopping up the wells that Abraham had built, to starve the Israelites of water, and how Isaac unstopped those wells after defeating the Philistines (Genesis 26:8). He said the devil’s war plan is to block us up to impact negatively our walk with God and our effectiveness in and through the Holy Spirit.

John’s talks were uplifting but, at the same time, challenging, and it will take a lot of mulling over and listening to them again and again to grasp fully the depths of them.

While the adults were under John’s preaching, the children and youth had their own teaching based loosely on the passages being looked at by John. As well as their own Bible-study times, there was also time for fun and games, and parents were delighted to receive tired young ones back from Eva Neukom and Peter Bates (children’s work leaders) and Naomi Farrimond (youth work)!

The evenings were spent in the usual mix of games, talent show and a team meeting, but this year had the added bonus of toasting marshmallows over a beach bonfire!

Our thanks to the organising team – Carolyn Moore, Helen Fazakerley, Peter Ong and Jo Ong – to the adults’ speakers, children’s and youth team leaders, and to the management and staff of Blue Waters for their welcome and service to us, and the excellent facilities and food!


The Team(s): The SIM Malawi familyand one family SIM Mozambique at SLC2017