By the Rev. Patrice Fowler-Searcy
A delegation of eight from the Pittsburgh Presbytery Malawi Partnership, including me, departed from Dulles Airport in D.C. on July 11. A day later, we met up at Addis Ababa Airport in Ethiopia to continue our journey with Abusa (Pastor) Joseph and Elder Ngang from South Sudan. Arriving in Chileka Airport in Malawi on July 12, we were met with singing and dancing, as well as welcoming arms by our brothers and sisters from various CCAP churches—but most prominently by members of ELPC’s sister church, Balaka CCAP! My bags were whisked away, flowers were thrust into my hands, and thus began my two weeks in Malawi.
The beauty and majesty of Malawi is only eclipsed by the love, faithfulness, and hospitality of the people and specifically the members of Balaka CCAP. At first, the members of the congregation didn’t quite know what to make of me. But after breaking bread, worshiping together, traveling to a prayer house in the “country,” attending weekly worship at the Railway Zone, and worshiping with the older women of Mvano on Saturday, I felt and was treated like a long-lost daughter who had returned home. The warm hospitality I received in the homes of the three families where I stayed—as well as those who opened their homes and hosted dinners and gatherings—was beyond compare.
I also witnessed the poverty and need of many traveling to a village close to the border Mozambique with staff from the Sue Ryder Foundation. We traveled there to check on and administer medication to people who suffer from asthma, cerebral palsy, and other physical disabilities. I was saddened and alarmed as the physical therapist on the team tried to manipulate the arms and legs of a four-year-old child—no larger than the average American two-year-old—thinking she suffered from a form of physical disability, only to realize she was unable to sit or stand on her own as a result of severe malnutrition. My heart broke.
There is so much to share, but time and space didn’t allow. However, I will share that the people of Malawi are filled with the Spirit of God, they worship and are joyful in spite of their difficulties, and they welcome strangers and missionaries with open arms. God is truly at work in that country where so many have so little.
I learned a lot from them in my two weeks there, and pray that the lessons I learned will continue to renew and transform me and my faith daily. Ambuye alemekezeke! Praise be to you, God!