Namikango Mission

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Don't Forget the Women!

Sep 28, 2018

Every year since I have been in Malawi, we have received requests to hold a Women’s Seminar on Namikango campus. Instead, we have held seminars for women out in various village areas.

We have diligently taught about "Women in the Bible" and "Ministry for Women" etc. Plus, we encourage women to attend the Village Bible Schools along with the men. The Women's Seminars have been held in various village areas, but we have not held a seminar on the Namikango campus where everyone could come. This is because we felt we were not equipped to accommodate a huge number of attendees. We suggested our staff request the churches to send us 10 women from each congregation and then we would send that same invitation to 50 other churches. This is how we handle Men’s seminars and we could handle this number of women. But when word got out last month that Namikango was having a “Women’s Seminar” there was no holding them back. Those ladies were desperately hungry for Spiritual food!

We planned for, and budgeted for, approximately 500, and sent out the invites. The day before the 3-day seminar, women started showing up. Some came early, wanting to claim a spot to sleep, before everyone else arrived. When it was all said and done, approximately 1,200 ladies with small children, were spread out all over the Mission grounds. We were busting at the seams, literally.

It is seen as a special honor to be invited to Namikango, and since this was finally happening, the numbers swelled to over twice what we expected. Women were in the Mission offices, in the classrooms, in the shipping container (where construction materials are stored), and in tents erected especially for this event. Naturally, there were some massive challenges in hosting so many people – allocating a place to sleep, locating tents, washing facilities, and providing food. Even with the kitchen staff working overtime, some people did not get fed until midnight. But, the overwhelming response from the ladies was, “Thank you!” And, “Please do not stop doing this, in spite of the challenges.”

Before I began work in Malawi, on my very first survey visit, one of the Malawian staff members told me, “Remember! When you come, don’t forget about our women.” Similar to other cultures throughout the world, culture in Malawi tends towards the oppression of women. Women are responsible for much of the work done around the home and tend to be the ones who are illiterate and don’t get to finish their education. This was similarly true in Jesus' day, and thus, one of the very noticeable things about Jesus was how He constantly sought to uplift and honor women. In fact, in the Old and New Testament, we often see God’s love manifest in a Mother’s love.

Namikango has always tried to serve in ways that honor and elevate women in the culture, whether through the Maternity Clinic or the Village Bible Schools. This last year, we moved one of our staff members into a role as, “Women’s Development Minister,” in order to continue in a more intentional way to serve the women in Malawi. The successful Village Savings and Loans is another ministry that largely empowers women, as they are the ones who often handle finances in the home. And just a few months ago, we started a Women’s Discipleship mentoring group. The new Bible School we are planning to have on campus will be different in that husbands and wives will be invited, and will be encouraged to come and study together. All of these efforts are for the purpose of lifting up both men and women as image bearers of the Creator, and empowering both to live out their God-given identity to its full. Imagine the power to come from a home with both parents serving God faithfully.

By Ben Hayes