This article appears in our Winter 2022/23 magazine and was written by Heidi Pronk, the Project Manager of Malawi.
An October whirlwind trip through Malawi with Paul Beezhold and Karen Vander Sloot provided lots of heat, dust, bumpy roads, smiling children, and reasons for praise. For a quick flyover tour of our projects there, read on!
Lizulu Orphan Care is one of our oldest and most reliable children’s programs in Malawi. There are 540 orphans scattered amongst six villages near Dedza, along the border with Mozambique, an area known for its moderate temperatures and tasty potatoes! Lizulu Orphan Care’s long reputation in the community means that they are often approached in crisis situations, like earlier this year when a grandmother brought them an 18-month-old child. The baby’s parents had died when their hut caught fire. The child was thrown out of a window by the father and managed to survive the blaze. This baby is living with its grandmother but is being cared for through the program.
Thandizo Orphan Care is located about 45km from Dedza and supports 600 orphans in six villages. In addition to the nursery schools (for ages 3-5) and the Bible clubs (for ages 6-12), they have tried to provide mentoring and support to older students. A recent self-sufficiency initiative involves taking 30 high school graduates and sending them to a vocational training program for three months. The students can choose skills like cellphone repair, plumbing, sewing, bricklaying, and motorcycle maintenance. If this pilot program is successful, Thandizo hopes to make it a permanent feature of their ministry.
Chibulika Orphan Care, our northernmost project, is the smallest of the orphan care programs. They focus on nursery school support for orphans aged 3-6, but they also have Bible clubs for older children. Because Chibulika operates in six villages in very rural areas with limited access to social services, their needs are very basic. Nutrition and evangelism are key elements of their program. Earlier this year, they requested pit latrines for five of the nursery schools. The absence of the most basic hygiene facilities in these communities is an indication of the severe poverty there.
Neighbor Mission Orphan Care is the most picturesque stop on our trip as it lies along the beautiful shores of Lake Malawi. Neighbor Mission oversees 660 vulnerable children in six villages. Each village committee consists of individuals from the local churches. The growth of Islam in this area means that church involvement and evangelism must be a central component. In Kamuona village, we met with local leaders who had taken the initiative to start building a classroom adjacent to the church so that the children’s program would have its own space. Word & Deed has agreed to help them with some final costs.
The last stop on our quick tour is Logos Ministries in the capital city of Lilongwe. Logos is the theological and leadership training program that Word & Deed has been supporting since 2008. Over the last several years, Logos has added satellite offices in the north in Mzuzu and in the south in Zomba. With the added reach of these two offices, Logos was able to impact over 1,500 lay leaders with biblical training last year. The trainings range from three-day intensive conferences, to weekly classes, to a diploma program through Mukhanyo Theological College. The basic theology classes are being expanded over the next couple years, a development that allows the training team to build relationships with the students over the course of 6-10 months. New classes being developed by the Logos staff include soteriology, biblical stewardship, and the Holy Spirit. The board has also worked diligently this year to put many new policies and governance procedures in place so that as the ministry grows, it does so with professionalism and effectiveness.
We are grateful to the Lord for faithful believers in Malawi who continue to work diligently to serve their communities in the face of mounting challenges with inflation, food supply, Islam, and weak theology in the churches. In spite of these obstacles, our visit also gave much hope that God is at work building His kingdom and preserving His church in big and small ways.