Mission Moments: Malawi
Madness in Migowi
Ministry partner’s home attacked; Mission: Malawi 2023 postponed
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Pastor Duncan surveyed the damage on his property following an attack by a violent mob on Thursday, March 2.
Pastor Duncan Nyozani was called to the gate of his house in Migowi, Malawi by a police officer the morning of Wednesday, March 1. He was told a man riding his bicycle from the nearby border of Mozambique had struck a child, who was injured, and the parents of that child caught the man and were holding him in their house. But no one knew which house.
Duncan told the officer, who was surrounded by a large group of people, “all my kids are OK, nobody is injured. The group insisted to search in my compound and found nothing.”
End of story.
No, sadly, this was only the beginning of what turned into Migowi madness.
The next day at 8 a.m., Duncan said, “the same group came to our compound for the same reason. This is the day I was going to distribute food to Msema and Kambona church members.” Climbing For Christ had provided $5,000 USD in aid to purchase food for Duncan’s hungering congregations.
This time, no police officer was present. Duncan called the Migowi police who arrived on the scene and told the people that the house had been searched and no one was found. “But the crowd insisted to search again, which they did,” Duncan said.
A police officer (striped shirt) speaks to the man Duncan said was the leader of this large group of people who gathered outside his home Thursday, March 2.
“All places (in and around his house) were searched and (they) found nobody,” Duncan said. “The situation became violent, and the police called their fellow police from Phalombe (the district headquarters) to control the situation. The crowd started throwing stones and breaking into my buildings. The crowd was so huge that the police failed to control it and ran out of tear gas.”
The police could not protect Duncan, his wife, one of his older sons, and a brother. “By God’s grace, we hid in a small room that was not destroyed,” he said.
Duncan’s house was looted, windows and doors broken, his car and his friend’s car were destroyed. The violence escalated. “One police car was damaged, some police officers were injured,” Duncan reported. “They had to use live bullets, which injured four people. This happened from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the police from the regional office (in Mulanje) finally controlled the situation and we escaped to the Phalombe police station.”
Broken doors, windows, cars, and hearts were all that remained when the area was cleared.
I received a text about the attack Thursday evening in Moshi, Tanzania, where we were on Mission: Kilimanjaro 2023. Damson Samson, our Kingdom worker from Malawi who is on our team here, had been receiving messages from his wife, Selena. Selena is Duncan’s sister and the Samsons live down the road from Duncan, but Selena and their three children were staying in another village where the children go to school. Selena sent Damson a video from Migowi. In it, people are running through a tear-gassed street near Duncan’s house.
“I was dragged down not understanding how it could happen in such a way,” Damson said, referring to this sort of mayhem so close to home.
For the next 48 hours we grappled with what had transpired and why. Duncan lost all his personal belongings, including phones, ATM cards, driver’s license, and a laptop. “All these things are happening because of jealousy and poverty,” he said.
“So far, over 30 people have been arrested. I thank God that He has protected my life.”
We agree and say, “Amen!” We commit Duncan’s family and ministry to the Lord’s care. Duncan added that food was distributed that day (“I just called them to distribute the food without my presence”) for which we are thankful to God. None of the children in the Project 1:27 orphanage were injured.
In the meantime, Duncan asked us to postpone Mission: Malawi 2023, which was scheduled to follow Mission: Kilimanjaro from March 11 to 20. “I believe it would be a good idea at this time,” Duncan said. The mission will be rescheduled, and our travel plans changed.
Duncan was traumatized by the attack, one of his friends in Malawi told me. Damson, who has spoken to his brother-in-law the past two days, said “the situation is hard for him.” It is hard for all of us, as we suffer with our brother.
Duncan has done many things to help the community around him. We have partnered with him since 2010 in his villages in southern Malawi and will continue to provide support – physically and spiritually.
We believe, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirts in the heavenly places.” Pray on!
The final Word
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NLT)