The 10 Bible Clubs running in the area of Tchoda are a testament to 10 pastors from different denominations who share a vision for a generation of God-fearing children through which God might transform Malawi; testament to their belief that child-appropriate Bible teaching is the way this vision must be achieved; testament to the individuals from their churches who have been trained and tirelessly bring the Gospel to a total of 850 children week by week; and testament to the Children for Christ Ministries (CFCM) team who have trained the teachers and who continue to encourage and provide resources for these clubs.
CFCM were asked to help with the running of a Christmas party for these combined clubs – and that party finally took place on 24th January. (‘TIA’ – This Is Africa!)
Children love a party – and Malawian children are no exception. 400 children were expected – but in the end there were about 470. Some of them walked up to 10km to get there, some of them carrying younger brothers and sisters on their backs. Church members had given sacrificially so that all the children and their teachers could receive a meal. And it was a privilege for us to help make this a special occasion for every single child.
The children packed into the Tchoda ZEC church building for a time of singing and Bible story, and many of them had prepared songs to sing and verses to recite. As well as telling the Bible story, I (Ruth) also taught them to sing an old favourite “Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah, We’ll praise the Lord” – where alternating sides stand to sing alternating lines of the song. They loved it!
Later they all spilled outside into the sunlight, and Myles took up his challenge – organising games for 470 children! Never in 35 years of running children’s clubs and SU Scotland camps had he taken on such a crowd. Again, the old favourites (but new to these children) went down well – Hot Potatoes (with stones rather than bean bags), Simon Says, Stuck in the Mud, Fish in the Net (aka ‘Chain Tig’), Over and Under (also with stones). He had been asked to do 20 minutes of games but in the end had to keep things going for 2 hours (without a megaphone or even a whistle!), while the children were fed in shifts.
This is a difficult time for Malawi, as floods have ravaged the country leaving many destitute. And January at the best of times is “the hungry month”, when many families struggle to find enough money for food. Even though there was not enough chicken to go round (because of the extra children who turned up), and some children only had a plate of rice to eat, they were shining examples of being content in all circumstances and being grateful for all they have. I (Ruth) had the job of collecting in all the empty plates – and they were indeed empty – not even the chicken bones remained! The CFCM team also gave each child a little booklet –which they immediately started to devour – and a lollipop – which many of them were still sucking slowly as they walked back home.
Seeing their gratitude for a simple plate of rice, a 4p lollipop, and a little booklet to call their own, reminded me of another very old favourite – so old that we don’t sing it much in the west any longer, and maybe we are the poorer for having forgotten, in our plenty and self-sufficiency, the truth contained in the words:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.