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Vassula's visit to Malawi - Africa
February 24 -28, 2001
Last July when Vassula visited S.Africa, neither she nor the organisers would ever have imagined that only six months later she would be returning to the rainbow land as well as going to nearby Malawi and Swaziland, to once again be The Lord's Echo and to convey the love Our Father in Heaven has for all of His children.
The Maronite church in Johannesburg felt compelled to invite Vassula to return to Johannesburg for what was initially anticipated to be a Maronite audience but which turned out to be truly ecumenical in nature with many church denominations being represented. The Anglican Church in Johannesburg also showed a great interest in having Vassula come specifically to talk to people from the Anglican Church and so when Winnie Williams and Gracinda Jardim, two stalwarts in TLIG South Africa, saw the interest demonstrated once more, they got together as they did last year and made themselves available to assist in the organising of such an event.
An event in the sense that Jesus really had plans that this visit was not merely to be to S. Africa again but was to include nearby Swaziland for the first time, and a return visit to Malawi, the second visit in total and the first since 1993. Winnie and Gracinda had both discerned through prayer, that Swaziland was open to receiving Vassula and preparing for her visit.
In no time at all, Gay Russell based in Limbe near Blantyre in Malawi heard of Vassula's intended trip down to Africa and she also prayed as to the possibility of another visit to Malawi being added onto the planned trip. And so the visit to Africa was put together.
Vassula travelled from Rome to Johannesburg on 23 January, accompanied by myself, Carol Chamberlain, flying directly to Johannesburg but only as an overnight stay. As usual, and as I have often witnessed, Jesus' loving care follows her on these travels to His nations. Within a half an hour of the flight having taken off, one of the stewards on the AlItalia flight whispered to me as he handed beverages and a snack to us, "Look after your friend". Not quite realising just how appropriate these words were, I answered that I intended to do just that.
After having been met by Winnie and Gracinda in the late evening of 23 January at the airport in Jo'burg, a quick overnight stay in a nearby airport hotel allowed Vassula a good night's rest and the following morning she caught the flight to Blantyre in Malawi. On entering this plane and wearing dark sunglasses, one of the airhostesses peered into her glasses and exclaimed in disbelief, "Vassula"? Just listening and hearing this I was stunned and yet again not surprised. This airhostess recognised Vassula as she had attended the large meeting in the stadium in Jo'burg last summer. Her name was Debbie Anthony and she spent as much of the two and a half hour flight to Blantyre as she could sharing and talking to Vassula. She was able to learn that Vassula was to speak in Jo'burg again a week later and she was overcome at this news.
Approaching the narrow and rather tight airstrip in Blantyre, and visible from the window, a profusion of vibrant green vegetation, carpeted with tea plantations awaited Vassula's arrival to Malawi. This was as well as a smiling Gay Russell who, due to the fact that she is a pilot and well known at the airport, was standing on the tarmac at the airport in Blantyre to greet her. It is 8 years almost since Vassula's last visit to this country whose ancient name means 'flames of fire'. This little country sandwiched between Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania is no stranger to evangelisation. It shares a rich history of having experienced missionary presence since the 16 century, firstly by Portuguese Jesuits and Dominicans and ending with Livingstone, the Presbyterian missionary explorer from Scotland.
Gay was able to facilitate a quick immigration procedure and without any further ado, Vassula who had been filmed by an awaiting television crew, as she stepped off the plane, was being interviewed by the same crew in the airport car park. No sooner was that over than Gay drove her to the nearby and local television studio where she was given a 15 minute interview for a programme called 'Spiritual bag', and which was to be broadcast, as we later found out, once Vassula had left Malawi.
After having had a short rest at Gay's residence, Vassula was then taken to the local radio station where she participated in a live radio interview with two presenters. Although a live phone-in question time had been arranged, this proved unsuccessful, due to technical difficulties. But undeterred and full of words of wisdom, after having given a brief introduction about herself and her charism, she reminded the listeners that she had come for everyone to hear, Christians and non Christians, and not just Catholics or Protestants. We were reminded through her that we will be judged according to the measure of love we have shown here on earth. She spoke about Love being the Mother of all virtues and the pinnacle of these messages.
The following morning 25 January, she had another radio interview, the main points of which were translated in Chichewa the main indigenous language of Malawi. That same afternoon there was a talk scheduled at the French Cultural centre in Blantyre for church clergy. This was an extremely successful and well-organised meeting in that there were about 52 members of clergy representing ten church denominations. There were a few lay people who pushed the attending number of people to 60. After a short introduction by Gay and an invitation for everyone present to pray the Our Father together, Vassula began her talk by a brief introduction again. She reminded everyone that through no merit of her own and only through the mercy of God, she had been given this charism for the benefit of the church. Vassula emphasised that by remaining divided we audaciously offend God. Many people seem to have a lethargic attitude by not deciding for God because they do not seem to know Him.
There were several interesting questions asked by the attending clergy such as: "Is there any meaning to the words True Life in God?", to which Vassula was able to explain how Jesus chose the name of the messages in accordance to His desire that we live such; If God is so powerful why does wretchedness attract Him?; What is meant by dying to yourself daily?; Can you see ecumenism progressing?
One of the delightful fruits of this meeting was that there were members of different church denominations who had been in Malawi respectfully for over thirty-two years and had never met. Having come together in this forum provided by Jesus, clergy from all these different denominations were able to share the joy they had experienced hearing how much Our Father in Heaven loves all of His creation and desires unity amongst each one of us, not only in the church but in our homes and families. There are plans now being made by the association in Malawi to nurture this and to bring the Christian community together in an effort to get to know one another better in the Spirit of Love that God desires us to. The denominations present were: Anglican, Catholic,Blantyre Christian centre, Salvation army, Seventh Day Adventist, Blantyre Pentecostal, United Pentecostal Church, C.C.A.P, Living Waters Evangelical, Apostolic Church of Christ.
Gay had worked very hard in trying to over see that, as much of the community was able to come and listen to Vassula. Although the main meeting was scheduled for the Sunday afternoon of 28 January, she had anticipated that probably very few ex-patriates would attempt to attend it. She therefore arranged a meeting for the expatriate community for Friday evening of 26 January at the local Portuguese Club and to which 120 people, old and young alike came.
This was Vassula's old stomping ground, so to speak, in that she had experienced and lived an ex-patriate life, particularly in Africa and indeed when the charism was given to her, she was "at the most successful point in her life and was not looking for God". She was therefore able to relate to these people so easily and registered her speech and the content of it in such a way so that she was able to tell them of the call to repentance, a call to return to Him. She continued by explaining the purification that she had to go through and that all of us need to in order to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. We were reminded to stop looking at material things and to get to know Him. There are two keys to get to know Him. Firstly, we have to decide for God. With a light hearted humour she told us not to leave God for our retirement. Our souls have become so arid because we do not know God. To arrive at the stage of desiring Him we have to die to ourselves and be more in communion with Our Holy Companion, Jesus.
Vassula proceeded to then say how she was given a light of understanding as to what is meant by the second Pentecost. She explained that she was led to understand that it has started already and that it is an individual thing. When once a soul who seemed so distant from God and then through the power of the Holy Spirit, a resurrection breath is given and then this should becomes so full of the love of God and thirsts for God, this is the second Pentecost.
The meeting concluded with an opportunity for questions and answers. One of the questions from a lady who belonged to one of the Pentecostal churches was about God's Will. Vassula promptly answered that, "to love is to do the will of God".
"Renew yourselves in God, In His Love and learn to love one another - be good and holy. Do not lie to yourselves little children, following illusory desires. LOVE is to live in the truth, have you not read that, 'if you give away all that you possess, piece by piece and if you even let them take your body to burn it, but are without love, it will do you no good whatever'" (December 6 & 8 1993, Notebook 69).
This meeting was scheduled for an hour between 6 and 7 PM. Vassula left the hall at 8.45 and there were still people there and buying books. Many people appeared to have been touched by the almost tangible love of God emanating from her lips. One woman in particular cried form the minute Vassula started talking and it was very evident from people's faces that the message of Our Lord's desire for us to approach Him and to get to know Him, was penetrating the very souls of those who perhaps felt that they were beyond God's Love.
The following day was a cool rainy day scheduled for Vassula to have some 'free time' visiting some ladies form the Greek community living outside Blantyre in Malawi, having lunch and sharing. The whole scene reminded me of a Biblical scene. Vassula quietly enjoying some spectacular Greek cuisine, but at the same time, in her peaceful manner, witnessing to God's love for us all. The evening concluded by a meeting of the organisers in Gay and David Russell's house in Limbe, the highlight of which was the singing in Chichewa and then the attempt at everyone to learn and sing the Greek hymn of praise, Thoxa, Thoxa sto Theo.... This was an amazing scene with the background of the Limbe hills visible from the windowed verandah of Gay's house and all these wonderfully happy Malawian people singing in Greek with Vassula. It was a very moving experience. Sunday 28 January arrived and the day of the main meeting for Blantyre, which took place in the Comesa hall. As Vassula approached the hall, the melodious music of the music ministry could be heard. There was a buzz in the air and a lot of people gathering to attend. Inside there were about 1500 and about a half an hour later the numbers reached about 2000.
Fr Eugenio Cucchi, an Italian Montfort Missionary provided excellent translation for the talk, from English to Chichewa. As Vassula began by saying that the essence of the messages is love, peace, reconciliation and unity. She reinforced much of what had been said in the course of the last few days but to a throng of people who were eager to hear that we all have the same Father in Heaven and that we belong to Him and that only when we are in spiritual union with Him, the spirit in us calls out, 'ABBA, FATHER'. Vassula asked all the people there if they loved God. They answered "Yes" and she told them, as Jesus had told her, "Love me more". To love more, she explained the two approaches: To go like a child and to be in awe towards God, with reverence, to live in the fear of the Lord.... not being afraid of Him but that this is the beginning of wisdom. She then asked what is wisdom and answered, "Wisdom is to know God and to understand Him and to do His Will". Reinforcing what had been said earlier in the week she continued, If you do not decide for God, you tie His hands. Repent from all your heart for the wrong that you have done and in this repentance you will obtain the fruit of love. Coming towards the end of the talk, the rain, which was falling in heavy cascades, could be heard, but not a sound from the audience could be heard inside as Vassula concluded with these words,"I am not a God who can not be moved by your prayers".
Whilst the music ministry sang in their own tongue to a joyous melody, Vassula was escorted out to an awaiting vehicle and was accompanied to the airport where Gay was to fly her to Linlongwe for the following day's meeting.
At the airport there, the organising committee met her. Rui, a Portuguese Malawian, who had a strong conversion through the messages of True Life in God, was able to share how he had been very involved in Freemasonry and through the messages was given the understanding that it was wrong. This meeting to Lilongwe was short but nevertheless amazingly packed with eagerness to come and hear Vassula speak. The following morning at 9.00 am Vassula spoke to over 1000 people packed into Bwaila secondary School hall. The atmosphere was one of happiness and joy and the people there sang from their heart in praise and glory to God as Vassula approached the stage from where she spoke. We all joined together to sing, 'Ali Mommuno Ambuye' Yesu, invoking the Holy Spirit.
Here she talked about the importance of invoking the Holy Spirit and how our attitude changes due to the Holy Spirit within us, as God desires us to attain perfection. She spoke about unity, the love of Our Eternal Father and why God is speaking to us today. Many of the topics she had discussed in Blantyre she spoke about again to the people in Lilongwe. Having to be careful about the time and having spoken for one hour and 40 minutes, Vassula left to an ecstatic crowd of people singing with so much feeling hat we were sure the rafters of the roof would cave in.
Escorted to the airport by people one of the organising committee in Linlongwe, Katie, we arrived at the airport where Gay had checked in baggage and seen to the travel tickets, as she was also preparing to fly herself and other passengers back to Blantyre. No one could deny that this visit to Malawi had certainly brought to mind the ancient name of flames of fire, as that seemed to be what the Holy spirit was rekindling in what I witnessed there in this wonderful country in South East Africa.