Today (Tue 24th) was probably the day I have been looking forward to the most – being back with the Children for Christ Ministry team, on the road, doing Bible clubs.
Joseph, Elevate and Lackson collected me from the ZM office at 7am, and we headed to the beautiful mountainous area of Phalombe. Four of CFCM’s volunteer trainers live in this area, and they are doing an amazing job at establishing Bible clubs, training teachers, and generally raising the profile of children’s ministry in that area. Gazeni and Chipoya had organized three Bible clubs for us to visit today, each with about 150 children. Everything ran to schedule, with the children gathered in each location as we drove up, and the singing already started. Unfortunately, as the day got hotter and hotter, the mango trees we sheltered under were getting smaller, till at the last club there was very little shade!
I taught the story of the siege of Samaria from 2 Kings 6-7. These children really understand hunger. They know what it’s like to go to school or to bed hungry because there’s only enough food for one meal in the day. They know what it’s like to survive on a diet of mangos when the maize has completely run out. So it was good to teach them those wonderful verses from Lamentations 3:22-23, “The Lord’s compassions never fails. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness”. They memorized the verses well, and we pray that they will be able to recall them and be comforted when they go through bad times as well as good times.
When we finished and started heading back home, the wind was getting up, and then the rains came. This is the usual pattern at this time of year, and people are relieved to see the rains arrive; they are already preparing the ground for sowing their maize next month, and if the rains are good, and their crops do well, their hunger will be minimized.
The problem is that sometimes the rains come with a bit too much gusto. The area of Phalombe has suffered badly in the past because of sudden heavy rain destroying homes and crops. A few years ago CFCM provided blankets for some of these children whose families had lost everything, and the steel sheets for the roof of Chipoya’s house which had to be completely rebuilt. Teaching children God’s Word is always CFCM’s priority, but in a land as impoverished as Malawi, where life is lived on a knife edge between having just enough and having nothing, the physical needs of the children and their leaders cannot be ignored.