Every Wednesday night, all of the missionaries working with ABC meet for a Bible study at the Chinchen‘s house (they’re the family that started this school). At our most recent meeting, the Chinchen’s weren’t able to be with us because of a health related trip down to South Africa. We still met, but just for prayer and worship.
Upon arriving, I took my seat and noticed that Guise was still going to lead worship. Guise is a native who earned 3rd place for Malawi’s version of American Idol. He is very talented, and is famous enough that he’s well recognized in the community.
Last Wednesday, Guise had us sing a few songs before pausing a moment to tell us a story. “I don’t know if you’ve heard the news” he said, “but it’s caused me to think about our next song: Blessed Be Your Name.” He went on to tell two heartbreaking stories.
The first was about his fellow band member, Donya. She was traveling on a minibus down to Blantyre the previous weekend. During the trip, one of the rear tires blew out, and the bus started to swerve. As the driver strove to gain control, a second tire blew out which sent the bus into a violent somersault. The sliding door flew open, and 3 people were ejected from the tumbling vehicle. Donya was the third to fly out, and land unconscious in the road. The bus continued to roll up a hill, it peaked, and then descended back towards the road. The bus rolled over Donya, and killed her instantly.
The second story was about Cheye. Cheye was married the same day as the aforementioned bus crash. He spent the next day at a pool, teaching his new bride how to swim. When the two got out, they were walking along the side of the pool, and Cheye slipped. He hit his head, and plummeted into the water. When his friends tried to revive him, he coughed up blood, and passed away. Cheye is gone, but his wife has not yet accepted reality. She’s still asking for prayer requests that he would “feel better.”
These two events happened a mere 4 days before Guise was in front of us leading worship. He told us that it’s during times like these that he has no words but to cry out to God, “Blessed Be Your Name.” After telling his two stories he took a moment to pause. The entire room shifted in their seats. Then Guise began singing.
I was so affected by Guise’s testimony that opening my mouth to sing coincided with a struggle to hold back tears. My lips quivered over every verse. I had watched as Guise laid bare his suffering right there in front of me. His vulnerability allowed me to see, with clarity, the immense strife that this world endures. But at the same time, I witnessed a man whose only available reaction to that suffering was to offer up the praise, “Blessed Be Your Name.”