Empower Missionary Sally Bryant recently returned from her annual trip to Malawi, where she had the opportunity to train teachers in an under-resourced school, and see how the love of Jesus is transforming a Muslim village. Here is her report:
What a difference a person of peace can make! I have just returned from Malawi (my 8th trip), where I had the opportunity to meet a woman of peace, the village chief in her majority Muslim village. Pastor Arnold Phiri, Empower Malawi Coordinator, asked the chief last year if he might start a school to teach the children basic educational skills as well as teach them about Jesus. She said yes. Previously, the only schools in the vicinity of the village were madrassas (Islamic learning centers). The school, called Amazing Grace Christian Nursery School, is now attracting children of the local sheiks, who find that their children are learning math, and how to read and write in Chichewa (their local language) as well English. Since last year, the school has expanded to include an orphanage hosting 15 children, all from neighboring villages.
Many obstacles often block the opportunity to get an education in Malawi. Some of these are gender-based: the result of the Fall which created strife between man and woman. Too often, parents chose to educate a son rather than a daughter. Girls without an education tend to marry early and have children early – often when they themselves are still a child. Children born to mothers who have limited education are 40 percent more likely to die before they reach the age of five. However, children of educated mothers are more likely to be vaccinated and less likely to be stunted because of malnourishment.
If you educate a daughter, you educate the country. If we want strong countries, we must have strong communities. Strong communities require strong families. And strong families require a biblical understanding of man, woman, and God’s original intention in creation.
Girls and boys who learn to read, write and count will provide a better future for their families and country. Education is a powerful thing, especially when joined with the life-saving gift of Jesus Christ. Thanks to this woman of peace, the chief in a predominately Muslim village, these children are getting both an education and an invitation to know Jesus.
Teachers Alice and Mary are truly doing an amazing job teaching with no resources! Imagine trying to teach with a very rough chalk board and limited chalk…and nothing else. They have no books, no paper or pencils, no DVDs. I was invited to give a “Train the Teacher” workshop, giving them ideas on how to teach with extremely limited resources.
Thirty-five men and women attended the three-day workshop. One of our highlights was learning to “cross the midline.” The “midline” refers to the midline of one’s body, an imaginary line running vertically down the body. When we read (or tie our shoes), we must cross the midline of our body. Recent research has shown that learning to cross the midline is an essential skill for children to master as they learn how to read. Without mastering this skill, children often get lost in the middle of a line of text. When their eyes reach the middle of the line, they are unable to continue and may return to the beginning of the line. We enjoyed much laughter as we practiced this while standing in a circle. This is one example of teaching without resources.
Pastor Arnold was very pleased with the training, and is hoping to expand the training into other villages next year. Please keep these men and women in your prayers as they bring education and the love of Jesus to precious children.