Hungry bodies and hopeful souls
Story and photos by Gary Fallesen
Climbing For Christ
The little girl knelt in the dirt and scooped up the two handfuls of maize kernels that had dropped out of a small hole in the sacks being distributed to mothers at the clinic. She painstakingly collected the kernels and held them tightly in her skirt.
She knew how precious each kernel of food was, Mission: Malawi veteran Michele Annibal observed.
The thought of such incredible need, such agonizing despair, coupled with the realism that outside the Majority World – in the so-called developed world – there is so much ingratitude for God’s blessings of plenty, pained our team as we worked in southern Malawi from March 4-13.
Michele, Elaine and Hayley Fallesen, and I walked through heart-wrenching and conversely heart-warming moments seemingly with every tick of the clock. It truly was the best of times and the worst of times; a 10-day period that was both terribly hard and joyously blessed.
The praises from Mission: Malawi 2016 included:
- Feeding thousands of hungry people thanks to God’s provision of about US$7,500.
- Teaching 17 children – orphans sponsored through Climbing For Christ – that God has a plan and purpose for each of their lives. They are loved!
- Dedicating a new clinic that, prayerfully, will provide health care to countless children who otherwise would go days before being treated – if at all – for illness or injury.
- Meeting and providing for dozens of previously forgotten widows and widowers.
- Encouraging the churches of ministry partner Pastor Duncan Nyozani’s Searchlight Ministries.
- Starting a new chapter of guides and porters working on the Mulanje Massif. These men will be discipled and taught how to evangelize for God’s glory and the expansion of His kingdom.
So much was accomplished in so little time. God at work. We were thankful to have a front-row seat to watch Him touching so many hurting lives with such divine compassion.
“Being part of the food distributions and watching such joy and relief; hope filling the desperate eyes of these brave and hurting people was an absolute highlight,” Michele said. “They celebrated more about some kilograms of maize than some Americans would celebrate a free car.
“It underscored for me just how hungry they are, how every day is a struggle, and yet they persist in hope and praise God for what little they have. Seeing them relax with a shred of dignity – I will never forget that.”
Malawi is one of the 20 poorest countries in the world. The poverty there has been magnified in the past 15 months by weather (destructive flooding followed by near-drought conditions) that has destroyed crops, driven up food prices, and left millions on the verge of famine.
This was the backdrop for the time that our team – “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand
” (Ephesians 2:10
) – should walk in. The original goal of this fourth mission to Malawi in eight years was to care for and provide more Bible-based instruction to our beloved orphans. That goal was achieved, but God had much, much more in store for us.
Feeding, encouraging, teaching, preaching, providing for, praying for, lifting, and loving. This is why we’re called to Malawi, a landlocked country in southern Africa.
Elaine talked about hearing the “frenzied cheers from very hungry people” and seeing the “humble gratefulness from the poorest of the poor” as they received help. She said it was “the first time I experienced this,” despite having served on numerous Climbing For Christ missions to Haiti, Nepal, Tanzania and Turkey. This was Elaine’s third trip to Malawi.
“I enjoyed going back to the old Mothers & Babies Centre,” she said, referring to our visit with 89 widows and widowers that our Malawi missionary Damson Samson started serving after CHRISTmas 2015. “What Damson is doing with his new widows group is pure compassion. He is truly being Jesus’ hands and feet to people no one else cares about.
“He is becoming a great role model and leader for his people.”
Damson and Hayley speaking to widows in Msema.
Hayley, who was on her first Mission: Malawi, said: “I am proud to call that man my brother. He just goes to show God can work mightily through someone’s life, regardless of their age (Damson is 33). He’s done so many amazing things in such a short time in his life already, and I was super encouraged by him every single day. Seeing him with so many different groups of people – his church, other churches, orphans, widows, his family, the mothers and babies – was even more encouraging as he maintains his positive and helpful demeanor regardless of who he is with. It’s just who he is!”
The blessing of serving alongside brothers and sisters, singular in focus and purpose, is inspiring – no matter the challenges. Then there are always those little moments that provide uplifting glimpses of God’s heart.
Michele felt it when Dixon, a 12-year-old orphan, reached out and held her hand during one of our times of prayer. Another day, she asked Clement, the 13-year-old she sponsors, who was his best friend. “You,” he answered.
Clement and Michele.
Hayley recalled an interaction with another teen-age orphan.
“A moment that sticks out to me was Evans showing me his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 27:10
,” which says: “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
“I was overwhelmed by how much someone who lost their parents could still love God,” Hayley said. “It was just a very real situation.”
There were many very real situations on Mission: Malawi 2016.
“True tragedies that broke my heart and will haunt me for some time to come,” Michele called them. “The pain and weariness in the old men’s eyes at the old Mothers & Babies Centre. The sunken cheeks and stooped posture of the women caring for many on not nearly enough.”
The little girl – “so tiny and skinny” – gathering those few fallen kernels of maize.
“Appalling signs of a broken world,” Michele declared.
They were signs of the least of these in a place most do not even know exists. Signs from a place where God blessed us by sending us to GO with Him to serve and love His creation.
One of the old widowers we met (above) stood in front of us, joy exploding from his once-weary face. “We are so poor,” he exclaimed, “we never expected to see you sitting in front of us.”
We had been made God’s physical embodiment (1 Corinthians 12:27). We were there to provide a sign of hope: Never give up. “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:15-17)
For more on Mission: Malawi 2016 please CLICK HERE
and read our daily Dispatches.
Our short-term mission to Malawi is finished, but the need continues. People are still hungry and hurting. Climbing For Christ provides ongoing support to Pastor Duncan Nyozani and missionary Damson Samson every month, including the sponsorship of orphans in the care of Searchlight Ministries. If you are moved by this Trip Report, please respond by supporting the work God is doing through us in southern Malawi.
You can contribute to the physical and spiritual feeding of thousands by sending a donation to Climbing For Christ c/o Feeding Malawi at P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616-0290 USA. Or CLICK HERE
to give via PayPal and email info@ClimbingForChrist.org
to alert us to your donation.
In Canada, make checks payable to The Great Commission Foundation, and on the memo line add Climbing For Christ CANADA c/o Feeding Malawi. Mail your support to: The Great Commission Foundation, #3 – 1335 Trans Canada Way SE, Medicine Hat, AB T1B 1J1. Or give online at http://tgcfcanada.org/donate. Mark your contribution: “Climbing For Christ CANADA c/o Feeding Malawi.”
Thank you for anything you can give. Anything is more than most in southern Malawi have. Please keep this mission in your prayers.
Malawi (green) located east of Zambia, west and north of Mozambique, and south of Tanzania.