March 22nd 2011
Teach Every African Child Hope is the acronym and motto for Project TEACH. Hope is exactly what I see when I look into the eyes of the children in this program. Each day during the program the children gather with excitement and joy in the small red-brick, tin-roofed, open-windowed school rooms to begin another afternoon with hungry hearts and minds ready to learn, and full bellies from the after school feeding program. They are hopeful as they study various subjects with the youth leaders, working hard in order to succeed and excel in their education, and trusting in the Lord to continually provide for their every need. They are hopeful as they look up to the youth leaders as positive role models who they strive to be like someday, and as they look to their futures with vision and inspiration, knowing that because they are a part of a program like Project TEACH they are blessed.
The children begin the program with prayer, which they say in English since I am their guest and they want me to understand, thanking the Lord for the food and asking His blessing on their families and teachers. They line up out the door to receive either their snack, which is served on Mondays and Wednesdays, or a full meal, which is served on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This week was especially exciting for the children as we focused mainly on the development art program that I am doing with the various ministries. The children do not have the privilege of studying art in school, and so it is very fun and exciting for them to set aside an entire afternoon during the program to simply draw a picture. They are even more excited by the idea that some of their pictures will “become famous” in the United States, and will be turned into prints and note cards that Urban Promise International (UPI) will sell on behalf of the ministries here in Malawi.
Another very exciting time for the children is when I simply take the time to sit down with them as they do their best to teach me new Chichewa (the national language) words. I have some trouble with pronunciation; it is not the easiest language to pick up as it is very different from English. They laugh and joke with me as we learn together-- I, Chichewa, and they as they practice their English. I can now form sentences to say a simple greeting, that I love Jesus, and some other very basic words. It has been a lot of fun to learn their language, and sometimes I actually build up enough courage to speak it to locals; they are extremely surprised and happy that I can greet them in their national tongue.
Hope was in the heart of every player on the Project TEACH soccer team this past Saturday as they had a match against one of their biggest rivals. The team has practiced and prepared for this game for weeks, and the anticipation for the outcome of this match was through the roof. We showed up at the field about an hour early to set up the nets and prepare the boundaries of the field, and the players suited up in their yellow uniforms and waited for the opposing team to arrive. Hundreds of people from the local community and villages came to watch the game. Soon a large flatbed truck came rolling onto the field, on the back of which was the opposing team and a crowd of supporters waving flags, cheering, and blowing their game trumpets upon arrival. The players unloaded onto the field and began their warm-up alongside of our team.
As I was standing on the sidelines watching all of this take place, I noticed that some of the opposing team members were not in the middle of the field taking part of the warm-up, but were instead walking around the field and stopping at every corner to do something. I asked George, one of the youth leaders who is currently injured and cannot play what the opposing players were doing. He laughed and explained to me that the opposing team must have gotten some advice from their local witch doctor who told them that they should perform this ritual around the field; it will bring their team good luck, and will “tie” the feet of the Project TEACH players so they will play poorly. You see, witchcraft is something that is very real here in Malawi. The people whole-heartedly believe in witchcraft, and some people actually practice it. However, our team certainly was not affected by the “spell” that the other team was trying to put them under. The Project TEACH team gathered to pray before the game, played with great skill, and beat the opposing team with a score of 3 to 0, an amazing victory for a team who stands for the only true God and highest power of the universe.
We drove away in Sullivan’s car, blasting their victory song, which is a rap version of the song “Our God is an Awesome God!” Some of the lyrics are, “Our God, is an awesome God, He reigns, from heaven above, with wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God.” As we drove home under the dusk of the Malawian sky I couldn’t help but think about the meaning of these words, and suddenly I was so overwhelmed with the reality of what it means that our God is an awesome God.
He is above all, greater than ANYTHING you could ever imagine. He is so much bigger than what we can even begin to understand. He created the moon, the stars, the earth and everything in it, and you and me. He holds everything in its place, He keeps your heart beating every second, and He loves you so much that He sent His Son to earth to be the sacrifice for our sin, which we are absolutely helpless to escape from. He is outside of the boundaries of time, He conquered death, and He showed us how to live through the life of His Son Jesus Christ. He is an awesome God!
How else are we supposed to respond to this awesome, loving, just, merciful God, than to surrender our lives in their entirety to His will, to stand in awe of Him, to fear Him, to love Him from the very depths of our souls, and to share His love through the way we live with others. It is so easy for us to become wrapped up in this world, focusing on our lives day to day and to trying to take our lives into our own hands instead of entrusting them to the one who created life. Our God is an awesome God, and I am so blessed to be able to share Him with the people here in Malawi.
- That the Lord prepares my heart and mind to leave Project TEACH and enter into a new site this coming Wednesday- Rays of Hope in Blantyre.
- For the continued example and testimony of the Project TEACH soccer team to the other teams they encounter and to the community of Mulanje.
- Praise the Lord for how awesome He is. He is more than deserving of our whole-hearted love, devotion, and praise.
- Pray that the Lord would continue to give me strength and motivation as I continue to work with the ministries here in Malawi.