"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." (Romans 12:1, MSG)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Foto Friday - Y-Malawi, Day nine: World Vision

Our ninth day in the mission field of the Nkhoma/Chilenje region of Malawi was spent with World Vision.

World Vision is Y-Malawi's largest partner and the primary source of funding to the other partners. Members of Y-Malawi partner churches sponsor nearly 6,000 World Vision children in Nkhoma/Chilenje. Because of these sponsorships, entire communities are being transformed in amazing ways:
  • Malnutrition reduced from 51% to 26%
  • Positive HIV testing reduced from 55% to 21%
  • Access to safe water increased from 21% to 68%
  • A 107% increase in children enrolled in primary school
These are just a few of the statistics but they speak volumes about the way hearts and lives are being changed in Malawi every day! Glory to God!

A primary purpose for our trip to Nkhoma/Chilenje was to facilitate meetings between World Vision sponsors and their sponsored children. Two members from Trinity were able to meet their children for the first time since beginning their sponsorships more than three years ago. It was a heartwarming experience to say the least.

Every time we arrived in a village for a visit, we were welcomed by not only the sponsored family but the entire community. Nearly every greeting included singing and dancing.
Janet brought a lot of fun things for her child to enjoy.
The entire village watched as Janet gave her gifts.
Janet was given a tour of the family home.
In addition to the gifts for the child, Janet brought the family gifts of necessities like maize, rice, oil, soap, etc. Here the mother is reacting to the gift of rice. She told Janet that they eat rice only once a year as part of their Christmas celebration, making the gift of rice a very special treat.
Janet received this clay bowl as a gift from the family.

Barbara's visit was very similar to Janet. She brought gifts for her sponsored child and the same staples for his family.

One particularly moving experience of the day happened on Debbie's visit. Debbie first visited her sponsored child in October 2014 and couldn't wait to visit again.

Their happy reunion.
While visiting with the family, Debbie learned that they had lost their home (a mud hut) earlier in the year during a rainstorm. So, the child and her mother were sleeping on the kitchen floor of one of their neighbors. They literally had nothing left. The mother had expressed her sadness that she was unable to return Debbie's kindness since she had nothing to give. Hearing this part of their conversation, one of the neighbors went to their home and returned with a chicken for the mother to give to Debbie.

Now for the rest of the story...

While petting the chicken on the bus as we made our way to the next visit, Debbie asked the World Vision representatives traveling with us about how much it costs to build a home for her sponsored family. The World Vision rep said materials for a brick home with a tin roof that would best withstand the elements cost about $300. Debbie then asked about the labor, since her sponsored child and her single mother would not be able to do it on their own. Labor to build the home would be about $100.

Now, before Debbie left for Malawi, she had friends and family give her some money to take on her trip. Debbie confessed that this bothered her somewhat, as if they were trying to "ride on her coat-tails or something." The amount she had been given? 


Debbie made what is known as a "Gift Notification" through World Vision, designating the $400 specifically for the purpose of building her sponsored child and her mother a new home.


So, what about the chicken? It would have been rude for Debbie not to accept the gift. Still, she couldn't bring it home either. At the next village, Debbie asked the World Vision rep to find the family with the greatest need so she could give them the chicken. Debbie also made the family promise not to kill the chicken for one meal but to allow it to live and become an ongoing source of sustenance for them.  

It was an incredible experience for me to see how $39 per month is truly being used to change hearts and lives, not just for the children but their entire communities. Before going to Malawi, my family sponsored two World Vision children already - one in Ethiopia, the other in Malawi (sadly, in another region so I was unable to visit). We've sponsored the children for years but never had any personal interaction with them, by letter or otherwise. I was so moved by how much good the sponsorships do, that I came home wanting our family to sponsor another child - specifically in Nkhoma/Chilenje. I also wanted to give the people of Trinity the same opportunity.

So, we contacted World Vision and secured additional sponsorship forms for children in Nkhoma/Chilenje. On World Communion Sunday, 150 of those children were sponsored at our three worship services, taking the number of children sponsored by Trinity to around 350. Praise God! 

My family chose a little boy named Promise, who happens to share my birthday. Now, Lenora and I have our own children here at home (two daughters and a son), plus three sponsored children in Africa, two girls and a boy in honor of ours.

If God has been piercing your heart for the people in Malawi and you are also interested in sponsoring a child, please let me know. I have a few forms left for children in Nkhoma/Chilenje. There are still more than 4,000 children on a waiting list so every sponsorship matters. Pray about it!

Up next, the beauty of God's creation in Africa - I'll be sharing some shots from our time on safari before heading home!

Mulungu akhale nanu (God be with you),


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