Africa: More Than Just Flannelgraphs

We’re moving to Malawi! It’s a small country in Africa, but to many of us, Africa is one big country. Everybody has their own zebra, and they live in small huts on the edge of a vast desert. I’m quickly learning that this is not true. I think my perceptions of Africa are largely based on VBS missionary stories that were told with large colorful flannelgraph pictures. I figured I wasn’t going there, so I didn’t need to spend a lot of time making sure my mental image of Africa was accurate.

And here we are. We have plans to move to Malawi in the spring, and we’re going to visit – my first time to Africa! – in about 2 1/2 weeks. I’ll tell you a few things I know – or I think I know – about Malawi.

It’s green! That’s what I hear, and what I’ve seen in Matt’s pictures. Trees, fields, crops… it looks beautiful! Lake Malawi boarders most of the eastern edge of the country, which would explain the green.

Matt posted a lot of pictures of Malawi on his site – click on the picture below to see more.
It’s not always green, but they do have a rainy season and the lake, so it’s a lot more green than I thought it would be. There’s plenty of browns and reds too, especially in the bricks of the mud huts.

It is poor. I was just looking online to make sure I had the right info. Matt and I had been telling everyone that we had heard it was the 4th poorest country in the world, so I figured I’d check the stats before making any declarations in writing. I found several sites that said that Malawi was the poorest country. And then several commentators who said that those sites were all wrong. One thing they agree on: at a GDP of $800 per person, Malawi is definitely in the bottom ten.

The people of Malawi are happy. Happiness has nothing to do with money. The country is stable, they are able to survive from day to day.
Matt was so struck by this that he took a series of pictures of the people of Malawi that he entitled African Joy. It’s a separate set of pictures from the ones we linked above, so click on this picture to see even more of Malawi!

The last thing I’ve learned about Malawi that I’ll mention here is that a lot of people have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but there has been little training in what to do with the gospel – how to teach the Word of God to others, how to apply the gospel to their lives as growing and learning Christians. That is what pierces my heart. I want to go. I want to give my life and my energies to helping them learn what this precious gift of the gospel is, how it can give them true life, hope, and joy.

The gospel is there. This reminds me that we are stepping into a great heritage of those who love the gospel and love Africa. Our desire is to be good stewards of this gospel, to encourage the church in Malawi, and to be a faithful brother and sister to the believers there who desire to learn and grow in truth.

Thanks for reading through the first blog post. We’re excited to have you join us as we start out on this journey. The next six months will be full of getting things ready to go, and I hope to share with you the funny stories and the random deep thoughts that fill our days.

“I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages – villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.”
– Robert Moffat, Scottish missionary to South Africa, son-in-law of David Livingstone

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