Born healthy their names are Denala and Talitas. They are now 8 years of age. First to be born, their parents could not have been more excited for their arrival.  When the day final came everyone praised God for the gift of children.

At first the children seemed to be growing well and healthy, but as they grew their parents noticed something was not right.  After several visits to the local clinic, the difficult news came.  Both children had Polio.  The doctors told them that there was no cure.  They also told them that the twins would never walk. The news was devastating.

The diagnosis wasn’t just hard to hear.  It meant there would be lifelong challenges for the family.  The difficulties of this new life stressed the marriage.  Finally, the father became so depressed that he left the family.  The mother was now alone, with two children to provide for all by herself.  Not only was she now a single mother, but a single mother with twins facing challenges. The family was suffering. They lacked food, clothes, and other basic necessities.

In the culture of Malawi, people who are different can be misunderstood.  In the village, out of ignorance, they can even be thought of as either having special powers or possessed.  These misunderstanding caused even further isolation for this family fighting to survive.

Enter Tondwa Baptist Church. After attending a Disability Inclusion training program hosted by Y-Malawi partner World Relief, they learned that disabilities have nothing to do evil. They learned that people with special challenges are made in the image of God just like those without challenges.  Once they realized that God’s love extends to everyone He creates, they realized they had to do something to help.

They began raising funds to help the family with food, clothing and other items. When the church came to her home to offer help, the mother couldn’t believe what was happening.  The family follows Islam, but this was a Christian Church sharing help and love.  She said, “I am amazed! I never expect to be visited by you a Christian church.  My fellow Muslims know about my problems, but no one has ever visited me and my children.  May God bless you.  I have witnessed the love of God.”  One of the church Elder’s talked about how sharing the love of Jesus in this and many other ways is transforming their community.  As one of the churches in the new Church Empowerment Zone, the church has learned how important it is to reach out to their community to demonstrate the love of Christ.  One of the church Elders expressed what they have been learning like this, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.’’

Disability or opportunity?  You decide.