Namikango Mission

Our News Articles

Who Needs a Roof?

Jan 9, 2015

by Justine Hayes

Before we moved to Malawi, we had heard about the common problems among the villages and churches.

We came to Malawi hoping to equip people to find solutions for problems for the church and their communities. Rather than dwell on struggles, we will focus on the resources and strengths of the community. This works against the “victim mentality” that is common among underprivileged communities. We knew of individuals who would travel long distances to Namikango to share their need for a roof on their church, kindly requesting financial assistance to fulfill their need, as well as asking for transportation back to their village. For the most part, Namikango encourages these churches to gather funds and build from within their own community as an effort of local commitment.

One Sunday we drove to a village and stopped in the middle of a field. Our companions pointed to a foot path, and directed us, "just drive down there." Cautiously, we drove along the foot path, by fields ready for planting to our right and our left. Several yards down a hill, we parked in front of an unfinished building. The sun was shining down directly on top as if to emphasize its lack of roof. Within minutes, people began arriving from the surrounding area, carrying a table for communion, benches for the men to sit on, sacks to spread for the women and children to sit on, and sacks to spread over our heads to block the sun. The preacher, my husband, however, was victim to the sun's blaze and without protection until the congregation had mercy halfway through his sermon . . . . and allowed him to move under the makeshift shade of maize bags that shielded the congregants.

 

This was . . . “church without a roof.” It is a testimony to the commitment of this church that they continue to meet, despite inadequate facilities. We have visited other churches that have been less steadfast and all but disappeared when a roof went amiss.

The church is not a building, nor has it ever been. It does not need a roof to exist, it is a living organism. It is the body of Christ. However, my home congregation meets in a building that has a roof. For health and safety reasons, I doubt it would have been given clearance to operate without one. I have never imagined what it would be like to attend a church without one. I cannot judge my brother or sister who becomes discouraged when they lack a roof on their building. I cannot judge their priorities nor their hearts. But we can go and worship with them. We can visit them and ask “Why is there no roof?” We can speak to them the truth of other small congregations like themselves that are gathering to praise Jesus a world away.

Church visits can be challenging - visiting a congregation we know little about, people we will likely not see again, as we will be visiting another place next week. Seeing this church without a roof was just another reminder of why we are here. We pray that our being here will be an encouragement to people. We pray that by God's grace, He will allow us to strengthen their faith and their commitment to Jesus.

As we work through Community Health Evangelism and Micro-Finance loans, we also are learning more about the people and the life of the Malawian churches that we work with. They share with us what their desires and visions are, and what they hope to see in their future. We pray that in the future we can help people to discover their own resources and strengths of the community, and not dwell on struggles and problems. We hope to see churches find solutions and gather the funds from within their own community “to put a roof on their building,” as well as to provide for the poor in their community.