By Ray Stewart. Edited & Compiled by Britney Hamm
A Rich Country Stricken by Poverty
Malawi. A country few Americans could point to on a map. A country rich with diverse wildlife, indigenous culture, and breathtaking topography.
Despite this richness, Malawi is among the world’s least developed countries. Around 85% of the population live in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs. Only 9% of the entire country has electricity and running water. Only 20% of children go to secondary school, and less than 1% go to college. Life-expectancy is low and infant mortality is high. HIV and AIDS are highly prevalent, which drain the labor force and government expenditures. The staggering impact of poverty strips Malawi and its people of their inherent richness.
Combatting Influences of Islam and Witchcraft
There is great spiritual and physical need among our brothers and sisters in Malawi. Though Malawi is a majority Christian country, there is a significant Muslim minority that is steadily growing, as evidenced by the mosques –inarguably the nicest and most cared for structures in the country – that can be found every 5 kilometers. Along with the growing presence of Islam, ancient witchcraft is still heavily infused in the culture.
Recently, the Lord opened the door for me to travel to Zomba – one of the poorest districts in the country –to work with an organization called “The Passion Center for Children/Passion Center for Pastors.” I had the opportunity to proclaim the gospel in the villages and equip pastors in their study of Scripture so that they can “rightly divide the Word of Truth” and stand against Islam and witchcraft.
I have been invited to travel to Malawi at least 3 times a year to teach in the Passion school. My wife is invited to come with me and teach a Titus 2 women’s study. It is our hope that through these trips we can continue to encourage and equip our brothers and sisters in Malawi to proclaim the riches of His mercy among their people.
Increasing Crop Yield Through Biblical Discipleship
Along with the need for spiritual nourishment, one of the greatest problems the people of Malawi face is shortage of food. Malawi is primarily a nation of subsistence farmers who rarely grow enough food to meet their needs. The Passion Center has launched “The Elisha Initiative” to help end the cycles of pervasive hunger through a discipleship training program that addresses the practical issues of crop yield within a comprehensive biblical discipleship model.
Through the program, villagers are reminded that God has given them everything they need to grow enough food for their families, to give to their churches and to sell as surplus. The Passion Center believes that through this initiative, the people of Malawi can not only feed their families for a year but also give 10% back to God and sell 20% to provide a living for themselves, all while using the same plot of land. Pray for this initiative!
Defending the Fatherless & Protecting the Widows
James tells us that caring for orphans and widows is “pure religion.” Deuteronomy tells us the Lord “ensures orphans and widows receive justice.” And the Psalmist tells us that God is “the helper of the fatherless.” Clearly, God cares about orphans and widows. This is a third area of ministry for us in Malawi.
We have connected with three opportunities in Malawi to care for widows and orphans.
- The Champions Club works with special needs children, who are often considered a curse in their village.
- The Child Headed Household (CHH) seeks to improve the lives of the many children who are left to be the head of household due to both parents dying or leaving their homes because they are unable to feed their children. CHH builds homes for these children and helps them support themselves and their siblings.
- There is a great need for Widows Assistance because of the many women left to fend for themselves, often due to deaths associated with HIV/AIDS.
The needs are plentiful, but the opportunity is ripe to help our fellow image-bearers in Malawi to loosen poverty’s grasp on them – spiritually and physically. I am praying that the Lord will open doors for me to continue to travel to this country and bring members of our church with me. We welcome your prayers and financial consideration to help in this effort.
Contact Ray Stewart for more information
View from MacMcClear: Taken by Martin Lopatka. Used under the Creative Commons License. Original file
Nyika Plateau II: Taken by Ludger Heide. Used under the Creative Commons License. Original file
Lilonge: Taken by Neiljs. Used under the Creative Commons License. Original file
All other photos taken by Ray Stewart. Used by permission.