If you ask, most say it is their favorite holiday. Yet, Christmas in the villages of Malawi is very different than in the developed world. There are no lights. No Christmas tree. No parades. No Christmas movies or even shopping for gifts.
Instead of all these things Christmas in the villages of Malawi is simple. It’s about Jesus, family, and friends. In the village, Christian or Muslim, everyone knows Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. They might disagree on who Jesus is, but they understand the holiday is about His birth.
To celebrate families and friends come together for a big feast. Served that day will things like rice, potatoes, relish made from tomatoes and perhaps pumpkin leaves. Someone might donate a goat or chicken as the center piece of the feast. Then of course there will be plenty of Nsima, a local dish made from corn meal or cassava and boiled into a think cream of wheat like paste. There will be no silver, no glasses, no fancy tablecloth. In fact, there likely will be no table at all. Gathered around a cloth spread out on the ground, God made hands to work perfectly as a spoon.
The celebration won’t end there. There will be singing, storytelling, perhaps even a drama or two. Everyone participates, no one is left out. Everyone celebrates, everyone shares on this happy day.
There are many things the developed world can learn from the villages of Malawi. What Christmas should really be about is one of them.
Y-Malawi just launched a new initiative called, “Walk with a Village Church in Malawi.” Our prayer is to provide partners for 70 village churches working where 70% of the population are Muslims. These churches need our help!
To give you an idea of who you would be partnering with, meet one Pastor Gracious.
“My name is Gracious, I was a Muslim. One day in my village a group came with the Jesus Film. I attended without my parent’s permission. This was the first time I heard about Jesus. When I heard John 3:16, I knew that God loves me because of Jesus.
When I told my parents, they were not happy. They said, “Either choose to be a Christian or Muslim.” I chose Christian. They forced me to leave my house and my village. I lost everything. No longer would my parents provide food and schooling. My family and village no longer loved me. My situation was hard.
Since, for the last 20 years I have been a pastor. But still there are very few Christians where I live and have my church. In one village where I minister with my wife, there is only one family who are publicly Christians. In spite of the obstacles, we labor for the Lord. We have now 27 Bible studies in different villages. Some places are dangerous. These are remote villages and to get there we have to watch for elephants and monkeys. Yet, I am happy that God is always by our side, he protects His children.”
It takes just $60 per month to help a pastor like Gracious. To learn more and get involved just use click the box below.
Click here to Walk with a Village Church in Malawi
When Ed and Sue came to small group that night, they had no idea what they were in for. It was just a typical gathering of about 10. Then God showed up. Hundreds of lives were about to be changed forever.
At this gathering there was a presentation about what God is doing in Malawi through Y-Malawi. There were photos and stories of how God is moving in the lives of those who follow Islam. How churches are being developed to reach out to their communities, and how women and girls are being empowered to change their future.
That night Ed couldn’t sleep. He just kept thinking about what he had seen and heard. The next morning, he told Sue, “We just have to do something.” Together they decided to help fund a new roof for a clinic being built for children under 5 years old. Several village churches had come together to build the clinic for their community, but they could not afford tin for the roofing. Without a tin roof, and with the rains approaching, the mud made bricks could collapse as they get soaked with water. Ed and Sue couldn’t let that happen. They gave some money to purchase the tin needed to protect the new clinic.
When the villagers in Malawi heard about what Ed and Sue were doing, they couldn’t believe it. Then the day came when the tin sheets arrived. A day of celebration! The village Chief said, “I am so happy as a chief to have received these iron sheets, by faith together with the church in our area we saw the need and we mobilized the community to do something for the under-five children which includes pregnant women as they would walk long distance to the clinic so we come up with this structure. And today that some people, that we don’t even know, that we never expected come and assist us, we thank God!” That day they sang, they prayed, they worshiped God for what He had provided them through Ed and Sue. After seeing the photos of the gift delivered Ed said, “It warms our hearts to see the happiness on their faces and to know that the clinic will be safe from the coming rains. We are blessed to be able to help.”
Just a small group gathering? Not when God shows up. That one small group has now impacted the lives of literally hundreds of children and expectant mothers. People Ed and Sue will likely never see or know this side of heaven. Nothing is impossible with God. It does not matter how small the group or how small the gift. What matters is that we do what Ed and Sue did. That we listen to His voice and answer the call.
Click here to learn about how you can help
Her name is Esther. Like Esther of the Bible, her story is amazing.
Our Esther was married at an early age. It was an arranged marriage, she was not even in high school yet. Then quickly came two children. 15 years passed. She worked in the fields for day wages, washed clothes, cooked meals, and did everything she could to care for and provide for the children.
Life was far from easy, but she managed to provide school fees so that her children could get an education. As she worked hard each day, she often had thoughts of what life could have been like had she not married at such an early age. Then one day Esther thought to herself, “I am older, but my life is not yet finished. I can still make something of myself. God has not abandoned me.” Right then and there she decided to do something bold. She decided to return to school.
Before long this mother of two found herself back in a classroom, sitting next to her daughters among girls half her age. It was a humbling experience, but Esther was determined. Many days she felt overwhelmed, but she continued on. She refused to give up on her future.
Along the journey, just like Esther of the Bible, something incredible has happened. Esther has become a role model to others around her. She has become an encouragement to teachers. She sets an example for other students. Her life has become a living lesson to everyone she comes in contact with. There’s more. Esther and her oldest daughter have just completed primary school together. Now they are awaiting the opportunity to go on to high school.
God provided someone to redeem the Esther of the Bible. Our Esther is not yet sponsored by Y-Malawi. We are praying that God will provide her a sponsor, someone to redeem her soon. Esther had hope because she saw what others around her were accomplishing. Sponsorship is making a difference in lives.
Perhaps you could be Esther’s sponsor? If not this Esther, there are many others with similar stories, waiting for someone to come along side them. Waiting for someone to give them a hand up, to give them a new future, to give them the hope God gave Esther.
Click here to sponsor Esther or someone like her
None of his family believed in Jesus. Aloni grew up in that environment. Then one day he attended a showing of The Jesus Film near his village. He had never seen a movie before, and he just couldn’t forget about what he had seen and heard. It wasn’t just the images of people walking and talking, it was the story itself.
Aloni’s heart was telling him he had to do something more, but what? He decided to go to a local pastor who was part of the Y-Malawi Church Network. He went at night so that his going would not be known in the village. He had only one thing on his mind. Just one question. It was the same question Nicodemus asked Jesus in John chapter 3. His question was, “How can I be born again?”
The pastor shared with Aloni what it means to follow Jesus. Right then and there Aloni decided to become a follower of Jesus. He was so excited about his new life! He immediately ran home to tell his family what had happened. His family was not happy.
His parents threw him out of the house. They sent him away with nothing. No food, no extra clothes, nothing. The next day the family started telling everyone in the village that Aloni was no longer a member of the family. They mocked him and said awful things about him.
Aloni was distraught. He returned to the pastor and told him what had happened. Later the pastor said, “Aloni came to my house on several occasions, tears in his eyes, pain in his heart.” On each visit they opened the scriptures together and learned more about what it meant to follow Jesus. As Aloni began to learn more about what Jesus had suffered, he realized that what he was experiencing was nothing in comparison to what Jesus had done for him. He realized that suffering can be a natural part of living the Christian life. The Apostle Peter even predicted that we should expect it (I Peter 5:10).
Yet, as recorded in John 16:20, Jesus also said our suffering will turn to joy. That’s exactly what happened to Aloni. He has now married. He married a woman who had 5 children from a previous marriage. Then they had a child of their own making them a home with 6 beautiful children.
Life is not easy for Aloni. It is difficult to make ends meet for such a large family. They sometimes struggle to feed everyone. On balance, what they lack in material goods, is not even close to the joy of serving Jesus. Aloni is proud to tell others he is a follower of Jesus. He cleans and works at the church almost everyday. He is happy to be playing a small part in helping others to come to know Jesus as he did.
Aloni gets it. He understands what Jesus meant when He said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” There is a lesson here for all of us. Aloni’s old life is gone. In his new life he is ministering to people he will never even meet. Even to people on the other side of the ocean.