The Landscape of Malawi

Jan 24, 2022 | Sports Friends Africa, Sports Friends Malawi

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 8: 5-8

As carriers of God’s good news, Sports Friends coaches must be aware of the terrain they work in. Because the vast majority are volunteers working in their home lands and cultures, they simply must become attentive and responsive to the needs around them. They must recognize how the enemy seeks to steal the seeds of hope and truth they plant in the minds and hearts of young people they serve. They fight the threats common to their communities, working to clear out the “rocks” and “weeds” so that youth have the best chances of growing deep roots of peace, purpose, and joy. When young people on Sports Friends teams decide to follow Christ, they are mentored in this work within their own lives. We all have rocky places and strangling weeds in and around us that threaten our thriving.

There are several typical barriers to hope and change in Malawi. Parts of the country have long struggled against poverty. The southern region is populated largely by families with subsistence farms, and when climate is bad the people go hungry (this year it was too hot and dry; in past they have suffered devastating floods). The harvest this year was very small and insufficient. Just like the sun scorches young plants and causes them to wither, suffering can scorch the hope of young hearts and cause futures to wither away.

Father, let us bring the sheltering shade of loving presence, and the refreshing, nourishing water of Your encouraging word to these tender souls.

Other obstacles make the spiritual soil of Malawi hard and impenetrable. Generational cycles of surrender to joblessness, failing education systems, and poverty seem to pack young hearts down into the dirt, to be trampled by injustice and invisibility. Seed sown on ground like this can be easily snatched by an enemy who perpetuates these ideas in peoples’ very own minds, convincing them that this is how it is for them, that this is how it will be.

Lord, let us break up the unyielding pressure of injustice with generous love. Raise up Your people to advocate and work for good education, for creation of jobs, for innovation to change social systems that entrap Your beloved generation after generation. Bring refreshment to Malawi through a Church empowered and inspired by Your Spirit. 

Finally, we come to the weeds. Somehow those ugly weeds can take root in shallow soils and swallow up the little opportunity and energy there was to start with. They try to choke out fresh new life and dominate the landscape. Youth in Malawi have had learn to cope with a painful undercurrent of suffering that marks their lives. The education system is so poor that many drop out of school. The opportunities for employment are so few that many have nothing to do. They begin to drink, and spend their days drunken, often gambling with whatever they can get ahold of. The girls often drop out of school very early and get pregnant as young teenagers, sometimes turning to prostitution to make a little bit of income. The pandemic made things worse for everyone by increasing isolation, despair, and the destructive responses to such hardship.

Jesus, You grappled hand-to-hand with the human responses to suffering. You still seek out the shamed, the hardened, the hopeless. You still confront both visible and invisible systems of oppression and extend freedom to live different. You overcame this world and call us to live in Your victory, and to offer it to all others. Would You send forth Your workers all throughout Malawi to bring relief and comfort, challenge and change. Multiply growth of Your kingdom’s abundant love and life, and preserve a harvest of righteousness, in Jesus’ Name.