God's Light Shines in Malawi
January 11, 2011 - Many people gave their lives to Christ through the My Hope Malawi project.
If I can trust God for my salvation, this is the same God who can provide and meet my everyday needs.—Kingsley Saka
by Richard Greene
In early November, Malawi—a country of some 15 million people in Southeast Africa—was the setting for BGEA’s first nationwide My Hope World Evangelism Through Television Project in Sub-Saharan Africa—those countries south of the Sahara Desert. More than 5,000 churches were trained and nearly 50,000 homes across Malawi committed to hostMy Hope presentations. Programs aired on national television and radio and were also shown by DVD. Numerous Christian leaders from several other African countries were on hand to observe and are praying about bringing My Hope to their nations. BGEA launched My Hope in 2002 and has since conducted the project in more than 50 countries.
No Electricity? No problem! Portable battery-operated projectors made nighttime showings of My Hope programs possible in rural villages throughout Malawi.
Struggling to support his family financially, Kingsley Saka turned to an unlikely source for additional income in 1990. He became a witch doctor.
Kingsley’s clientele around Nkhata Bay—a resort and port city of about 15,000 people in northeast Malawi—quickly grew. Twenty years later, almost a dozen people daily would seek Kingsley out for medicine and to perform dark rituals over them.
Recently, with more money in his pockets, Kingsley had been feeling satisfied. Or so he thought. Then about six months ago, he became restless. Is this really the truth? he wondered. Is this all there is?
Meanwhile, Kingsley’s friend Peterson Nyamwela grew increasingly concerned. Peterson, who lives about 200 meters down the rutted dirt road from Kingsley, prayed intensely for his friend. For months he challenged Kingsley from the Bible about the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He brings His light into spiritual darkness.
At one point, Peterson told Kingsley that he believed a day would soon come when he would surrender his life to Christ and renounce his practices as a witch doctor. Kingsley smiled. Peterson kept praying.
Now searching, Kingsley decided to go to a service down by Lake Malawi where an evangelist from Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial center to the south, was proclaiming the Gospel. Kingsley listened but felt he wasn’t ready yet to yield to Christ. But his heart was open to the Gospel—and he was on the verge of commitment.
Then Peterson, who owns a nearby shop and restaurant, invited Kingsley to his home for the My Hop broadcast. First, music from popular African artists. Then, testimonies from well-known Malawian Christians. Finally, a powerful Gospel message from Franklin Graham.
“God loves you and sent His Son Jesus Christ to Earth to die on the cross for your sins,” Franklin declared, his sermon dubbed into Chichewa, one of three primary local languages. “But you must repent of your sins and turn to Christ and receive Him by faith.”
The light came on in Kingsley’s heart. On that sweltering Saturday evening in early November, he joined the 17 others in Peterson’s living room in bowing his head and praying to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
Later that night, at home, Kingsley tore down a poster advertising his witch doctor services. Now when people show up asking him for medicine, Kingsley boldly tells them that he is a new creature in Christ, that he has abandoned his former practices.
“I got into being a witch doctor because I wasn’t satisfied with how much money I earned as a watchman to take care of my two boys at home,” Kingsley explained.
“If I can trust God for my salvation, this is the same God who can provide and meet my everyday needs,” he added. “This is a fresh beginning for me.”
Peterson expressed gratitude to God for what He accomplished in his home through My Hope. “I thank Him that I can be used by Him for His glory,” Peterson said.
Kingsley was one of tens of thousands who committed their lives to Christ through the nationwide My Hope outreach.
“For Malawi, when you consider the extent of the reach and the number of people who heard the message of Christ and responded, I believe this would constitute the biggest Gospel harvest in the history of the nation,” said national coordinator Patrick Semphere.
The Reverend Francis Mkandawire, general secretary of the Evangelical Association of Malawi, said there is a tremendous spiritual hunger throughout his country.
“Malawi is open to the Gospel, and it seems that with so many coming to faith in Him through My Hope He has overtaken us with an incredible blessing,” Mkandawire said. “This is exactly what we needed.”
In Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, a pastor and his wife had repeatedly invited a neighbor to their home for a meal, but he had always turned them down. Their friend had been divorced twice, and every weekend he would leave home on Friday to carouse and would not reappear until Sunday night.
So, with some apprehension, the couple invited him to watch the My Hope program on Friday night, not expecting him to accept. But he came. And when an invitation was given to receive Christ, the man prayed for forgiveness of his sins. And for the first time in years, he spent the entire weekend at home!
In addition to television, radio also proved to be an effective media tool for My Hope Malawi—and sometimes in creative ways. In one village about 30 kilometers outside Lilongwe, a pastor gathered about 25 people to use the TV at a neighbor’s house. But the owner of the house was nowhere to be found.
It was pitch dark, and the crowd was getting antsy, so a guest opened the doors of his Toyota Corolla and turned on the radio. The signal was clear, and people crowded around and listened to Billy Graham’s message about the cross. Nine people committed their lives to the Lord.
In villages with no electricity, battery-operated projectors were used to show DVDs of the My Hope program. Sixteen-year-old Doris was invited to one such presentation. Doris, who loves to party on weekends, usually enjoys mocking Christians, but she agreed to come to the My Hope showing with some Christian friends. While listening to the program, the Holy Spirit stirred her heart. Doris knew she was a sinner, and during the showing, she asked Christ to forgive her. “This weekend onward, I will be in church,” she said.
In Malawi’s southern region, a 17-year-old sat on a barstool at a pub in Phalombe. He had run away from home. Forty kilometers away, in Blantyre, his parents were faithfully praying for him, not knowing where he was or what condition he was in.
The 17-year-old was living a reckless life, full of drinking and drugs. On this particular Friday night, he was alone and despondent.
The TV in the pub happened to be showing the My Hope telecast. No one else was paying attention, but the young man sat transfixed as Franklin Graham preached about the prodigal son.
The teenager came under conviction of the Holy Spirit and wanted to confess his sins and commit his life to Christ. But where do I go forward at a bar? he pondered.
He went outside, and not far away, he saw a man who he learned was a pastor involved in the My Hope project. The young man received Christ then and there. After thanking the pastor, he caught a bus to Blantyre and was reunited with his parents, who joyously forgave their son and welcomed him home.