Malawi is alive. Visit this tropical highland nation on the shores of Lake Nyasa and you will soon know what I mean by alive. As your airliner glides toward the runway, terrain that could only be Africa swiftly passes by your view. Though you have never been here before you can almost remember it - scenes from childhood films, television nature programs and carefully crafted novels created all this in your imagination before you were ten. Stepping into the African air you are confronted with another world's breath - hot, humid, pulsating, alive. This is not Atlantic Canada's uncertain stumble into spring. Everywhere there are trees laden with red, purple and yellow flowers, groves of bamboo swaying in the wind, and hidden wild animals watching you from the darkness. As you are awakened from sleep by the cry of howling guard-dogs, cawing exotic birds and the endless array of sounds emanating from the insectarium just beyond your window, a sea of humanity rises and falls in astounding poverty. This is another place, completely unlike your own, where a family eats only what cannot be sold at market, where a brook is at one moment a baby's bath and the next a festering sewer, and where the good hearts of men, women and children pump HIV-poisoned blood through failing flesh. Malawians suffer in a pandemic of poverty and illness that has produced a sad scenario where a child dreams of only living to forty - an age our culture jadedly mourns in a "middle age crisis." And yet somehow many of them still smile. My white hand lifted for a moment causes adults and children carrying firewood on their burdened heads to grin and wave. How horrible must have other white hands in the past treated them, that my voiceless hello from a passing missionary truck yields such surprising emotional relief. Malawi is wonderfully, tragically alive.
Though Malawian Christians share the pummeling poverty and all too brief life expectancy of their people, the Church that has arisen here is joyful in worship and excited about sharing the Good News with fellow Malawians and the continent of Africa as a whole. Firefox, a vibrant group of interdenominational leaders has an incredible vision to reach the nation's youth. They dream of connecting with a Malawian youth culture that is remarkably inter-connected with the global village. A simple surfing of Lilongwe's radio stations for their top ten tunes yields a play list that is similar to anywhere in the western world. The Malawian Church, knowing the need, envisioning the revival, and offering themselves to the great task, prayerfully came to the conclusion that God desired them to share their national mission with Christians from Canada. And so... quite incredibly… they have asked us to be their partners, where together we will host YC Malawi. Certainly, no one needs to teach these people how to sing and dance ... we can only learn from such a living evocative praise. They have simply asked brothers and sisters from the other side of the world with the means to help, and the vision to act, to do just that. And they know we will, for they have seen YC House and the children that laugh within its walls. Now we have the honour of actually physically uniting with our Malawian friends, celebrating together in a stadium of praise, and ministering throughout the nation including the Village of Hope! To walk away from such an invitation, offering only predictable shallow rhetoric to explain our absence would be a paltry response to such a divinely offered opportunity. Would you sincerely pray about your part in this mission? We need your prayers, your encouragement, your resources, your skills and yes ... many of you to minister on the ground in Africa! Nothing under heaven brings a Christian more alive in their faith then sharing in our Lord's mission!
Despite all the challenges this little nation has faced, Malawi is known beyond its borders as "the warm heart of Africa." When I heard this phrase I smiled, thinking of my own land - Newfoundland and Labrador - also known far beyond its shores for both hardships and wonderfully warm hearts. Just imagine the moment when both our "hearts" gather together in Silver Striker Stadium and erupt in praise to "the warm heart of God!" It is only when that heart is celebrated in every city and village will Malawi truly come alive. Until then YC and Malawi will await your reply.
YC Malawi Missions Director