As 2021 winds down, our GS team of staff and volunteers continues to pray for the world to open up again. While we wait, we invite you to explore with us the regions where our global ministry partners work. These places are unique and vibrant, each boasting their own special beauty. And the people? Well, we believe the people are extraordinary. And we think once you get to know them better, you will too. So we invite you to venture out with us virtually as we celebrate the people, places, and ministries God has called us to serve around the world.
ON THE MAP
For some years now, Malawi has been called the “Warm Heart of Africa” and this tiny nation has surely embraced the moniker. Friendly people, a vibrant culture, and a relatively stable government has made this Central African nation of roughly 19 million people an attractive destination for travelers seeking an African adventure.
Malawi is dwarfed by its massive neighbors, and is just 900 miles across at its widest point. Zambia is to the west, Tanzania sits to its north, and to the south, the long, thin Warm Heart of Africa seems to stretch leisurely, like she’s dipping her big toe into the heart of Mozambique.
From its place in the sub-Saharan southeast, Malawi has much to recommend it. Making the most of its position in the famous Rift Valley, it boasts the third largest lake in Africa, numerous national parks and wildlife reserves, forested highlands, and Central Africa’s highest peak. The famous Lake Malawi makes up one fifth of the nation’s geography. It’s length neatly divides into relatively even thirds, forming regions known as North, South, and Central Malawi. The North is the least populated area and unspoiled in its beauty. It’s characterized by rugged highlands and dramatic beaches along the northern lakeshore. Heading south, parks and wildlife reserves are plentiful and there are many tourist attractions along the lakeshore. the commercial capital and the old colonial capital sit on a high temperate plain that gives way to the hotter, drier south. The nation’s capital city, Lilongwe, sits in Central Malawi and makes a great launching point into the other regions, especially for international visitors.
As Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, Malawi was part of the Maravi Empire, a vast expanse of southeastern Africa which included Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. Organized by tribe, the area was mostly agrarian, farming millet, sorghum and later maize. The Europeans arrived en force in the 17th century and the tribal leaders began trading ivory, iron, and slaves with the Portuguese and the Arabs. It was the British who ultimately succeeded in colonizing the region, dubbing it British Central Africa. Unfortunately, during the colonization era, wars erupted between the Christian missionaries that came with the colonizers, like David Livingstone, and many of the powerful regional tribes. One of those tribes was the Yao.
Originally from Mozambique, pressures like famine and tribal conflicts had led the majority of the Yao to migrate eastward into Malawi. When they settled, they established trade with neighboring Swahili Muslims and became one of the most powerful tribes in Africa’s southeastern corner. The ivory and slave trades were not all they dabbled in; they also adopted the religion of Islam and did not appreciate the attempts of 19th century Christian missionaries to convert them. Today, two million of the roughly 2.8 million Yao live in Malawi. They continue to practice Islam and remain collectively resistant to the gospel message. But little by little that is changing.
Deep in Malawi’s south and sitting on the border with Mozambique is Nsanje where native son Pastor Medson Mzonda leads a small congregation. Life in the region is difficult; the geography lends itself to extreme heat and little rain which wreaks havoc on agriculture and thus the food supply. Medson began preaching here in 1985 as an evangelist but settled down to plant a village church in 2000. There was little gospel presence in the area, and much opposition, but He felt the call to serve among the unreached. Over time, many have come to faith in Jesus in an area dominated by animism and the worshiping of spirits. Medson faithfully serves his community, meeting practical needs, feeding the hungry, and encouraging his flock to reach out and press into villages across the border in Mozambique who need to hear the good news.
Joseph Chikopa was raised in the commercial capital of Blantyre, but like Medson, the Holy Spirit called him to press into areas without a gospel presence. So, he set out for the region of Machinga, where he trains the Yao tribe to farm, using a DMM discipleship tool called Farming God’s Way. DMM is rooted in relationships and by training Yao farmers in simple agricultural methods, communities have been blessed by increasing maize crop yields. The two together communicate the love of Jesus both physically and spiritually. In a land that has been plagued by seemingly endless drought, the villagers are learning how to engage in sustainable farming AND many in the Muslim community have given their lives to Jesus in the process. Whether it’s leading Discovery Bible Studies or strategically gifting Audio Bibles, Joseph continues to creatively present the gospel in word and deed among the Yao, and they are hungry for it. But the Yao tribe has a long memory and the key to the success of Joseph’s ministry has been this: He went not as a missionary, but as a servant. And they have welcomed him.
Global Sharing is proud to partner with both Medson and Joseph as they serve the Kingdom in Malawi. We will continue to offer the encouragement of friendship, prayer support, and teams of volunteers (when we can travel) to both these ministries as they continue to faithfully serve in their little corner of Africa. As both men press on with their work, we will continue to tell their stories, support them how and when we can, and invite you to join us in walking the Kingdom path with them.
As our partners press on in Africa, pushing further into the darkness with the light of hope, we will continue to tell their stories, support them how and when we can, and invite you to join us in walking in the way of Jesus with them.
Pray for continued fruitfulness as the Yao respond to the Word of God.
Pray for wisdom as leaders are identified and trained for the work ahead.
Pray for spiritual opposition from religious groups mounting against those who follow Jesus.
Pray for spiritual fruit from the solar-powered audio Bibles recently donated by GS partners in the US.
Pray for continued groups of families and villages to respond en masse to the gospel.
Thank you for making our partnerships with both Medson and Joseph thrive. Thank you for praying for these partners and the beautiful people they serve. Thank you for seeing the challenges and being part of bringing change to this corner of the world. We press on with your help, and we press on because the hope and healing of Jesus is the only change that will last.
To receive our prayer email updates for our partners, click HERE.
To give to our Malawian partners through Global Sharing, click HERE.
Thank you to all who have journeyed to Malawi with us to serve our friends and partners there! We hope to visit them again when we are able to travel!