Namikango Mission

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Victory Out of Tragedy

Jul 3, 2013

This month ended with one of the most exciting events we've had since my family arrived in Malawi. It was born out of sadness: last year, one of our students completed his semester of study and returned home to find that his wife had left him. We all grieved for him here, and decided something needed to be done for the families of the students, while they were apart – something in addition to the training the students receive. This has been a concern for a long time, and now we have a good answer. The solution was for us to bring the spouses of the students and their infant children to our campus for a two-week program. It was a packed schedule. The aim was to spend time together, studying subjects that would benefit the whole family.

This program also helped us achieve another goal as well. We wanted to cover other subjects in our studies in addition to the Bible subjects taught in our regular curriculum. We began with a week long course on HIV/Aids. Bruce and Beth Smith, an American couple, are here in Malawi for this very reason; to teach Christians and non-Christians throughout Malawi about the virus; so they understand it intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As HIV/Aids touches almost every Malawian’s life one way or another, it is an extremely relevant and important topic, the knowledge of which can help us as Christians meet the broken and hurting people of our world. They graciously agreed to come and teach for the week. This was one of the highlights of the whole program.

 

The second week consisted of a full schedule on a variety of topics.

"Financial Management" was taught by our assistant director, Bisani Mphongolo. One important element Bisani highlighted was the value of saving. He took a survey from the 14 couples asking what they would do if they were given the equivalent of $1000. Only one mentioned saving, and it was far down the list of priorities. Bisani proceeded to show how school fees to educate their children might be effectively paid for if only 50 cents/month were saved; a new concept to almost everyone.

"The Christian Family" was taught by our administrator, Rodrick Maluwa and his wife, Falless. It is safe to say that Rodrick is one of the most skilled individuals, both teaching people and relating to people that I've ever met, and those strengths showed this week. In the Malawian culture affection of any kind shown between husband and wife is looked down upon in public, and that does not inspire strong marriages. But, Rodrick and his wife taught through Scripture on the ways to build a strong and lasting marriage. When the couples returned from a leisurely stroll that evening, the husbands and wives were holding hands. It was evident that Rodrick's message had been received.

Becca taught the ladies a wonderful course on "The Fruit of the Spirit," in typical Malawian style, with a baby on her back half the time, and the other half nursing the baby. This, and our daily lunches with the students and their wives, really opened the door for good relationships between Becca and the ladies.

 

Other courses included "Agriculture," taught by one of our Mission staff, Alex Nunu. He continued the teaching he has done for us recently on “Natural and Improved Methods of Farming.”

We also invited a couple of guest speakers from nearby; Marieke, a lady from the Netherlands who taught Biblical principles of stewardship, and applied it by teaching the ladies how to use locally available fruits in different ways; and a Malawian nurse who taught on hygiene and nutrition.

The wives also had a chance to sit in on their husbands’ regular Bible courses and were able to get a taste of what their day in, day out schedule and learning was like. We spiced the two-week long event up with some sports as well: a game Malawi excels in internationally, “Net Ball.” Since I have enjoyed sports myself, I was quite ready for the competition, though I had never played this particular game. Then, on the day of the tournament, I found out that it is a game primarily played by women. So, the spouses of the students proceeded to battle against the spouses of our staff for several hours of good enjoyment and entertainment.

All in all, it was a beautiful two weeks. The Spirit of God was powerfully present in many ways, and it was evident that the students and their wives were soaking in the time that they had to learn God's word together. For many of the wives, this was their first time ever to be away from home, where the responsibilities of cooking and taking care of the home were not there. In the U.S. we are used to marriage retreats, where husband and wife can get away and spend focused time on each other and their relationship with God, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime event for these couples; a time where the regular distractions were removed and significant time was spent on improving their marriages and families. To me, this was the most valuable gift of the whole two weeks: to provide an opportunity to improve the lives of our students in a way that will have an impact on their homes, their villages and their communities.

Please continue to pray for them, as they return home to share what they've learned. Pray that the seed planted in this short meeting will bear good fruit for generations to come.

Ben Hayes