Mission Trips to Malawi, Africa

“Do you have black mamba in Malawi?” asked the visiting evangelist from US.

“Of course, we have a lot of them, I even killed one near our house,” said Jack. The evangelist asked, “How about church?”

“There are many churches, but none like ours where there is good bible teaching. You should come and start an assembly in our village.” responded Jack.

It was this conversation between Bro. Alexander Kurian while he was visiting Dar Es Salaam (DAR), Tanzania and Jack, a Malawian brother working in DAR that triggered the expansion of mission work to Malawi. When our Indian missionary in Tanzania, Bro. Vinoji Samuel, invited me to come to Africa for training the national leaders from Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi, we prayed that God would open a way for the expansion of the work in Malawi. So we planned to make a mission trip to Malawi in December, 2009. It was a great blessing that we were not only able to travel more than 1300 Km as a team and begin a new assembly meeting with breaking of bread in Kande Beach where Jack is from and we conducted a baptism service as well at the Lake Malawi. This was followed by many trips by mission teams and the evangelistic activities by the local brethren. Excited by the response and growth of many churches within few months, we as a family (my wife Beena, Lydia and Daniel and David), decided to make a mission trip seven months later in August 2010. This was mainly to teach and encourage the new believers who came from the neighboring villages. Teaching on basic doctrines and practical Christian living to the African brethren was a unique and fulfilling experience for all of us. The assemblies have grown in number and have extended even to the capital city Lilongwe because of these efforts.

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size is over 45,560 sq mi with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe, the second largest city is Blantyre and the third largest city is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed, "The Warm Heart of Africa." Malawi is among the world's poorest countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality. There is a high prevalence of HIV/ AIDS, which is a drain on the labor force and government expenditures. Christianity came to Malawi through the pioneer missionary David Livingston and others who followed him.

It took us three days to get there from DAR by road. The 4WD Toyota Prado that Vinoji had was very useful for this trip it was difficult going through the rugged hilly terrains. Knowing that once we leave the city area, we may not get anything to eat, we had packed some lunch and snacks for the way. The road to Malawi was good for the African standard, except for the sharp bumps it had near the villages. The scenic view was beautiful, especially the Mikumi Wildlife Park through which we had to travel. On either side were animals like elephant, deer, zebra, bison, monkeys, lions, and so on. When they cross the road, we yielded to them as it was their way! The journey was strenuous but it was joyful because it was with a mission. We sang songs in English, Malayalam, Hindi, Swahili, and Chichewa, and cracked jokes, and laughed. We prayed on the way for many matters. I still remember the Malawian brethren sing with their natural joy and passion: “When Jesus says “Yes” nobody can say “No” and When Jesus says “No” nobody can say “Yes”. How true!

One thing that touched all of us is the joyful singing of the people and the unforgettable smile on their face in spite of being poor and affected by diseases like HIV/AIDS. The governments are dependent mainly on foreign aid for major projects and are corrupt in most cases. Many children are practically orphans as their parents have died early due to diseases. Malnutrition is very evident in the physical condition of the kids. They live in small huts, and live of the land growing yucca, mango trees etc. The water and the fish from the Lake Malawi is a great blessing for their livelihood. However, we did not see any large scale cultivation or marketing of products. All domestic products are very expensive as they all have to come from outside by road. However, there is good news as well. The people pride themselves being conservative from the rest of Africa. They love the Lord, and are eager to learn the Bible. When we distributed Christian literature on our way, it was so surprising to see their interest in receiving and reading them. Even the policemen were asking for more books. They deserve good education, food, medicine, shelter and steady income and more than anything the true gospel of the Lord. While we enjoy many blessings on this side of the world, remember, we can help them in some measure by showing Christian love in many practical ways. What will you do?