Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, is among the world’s least developed and most densely populated countries.
Extreme poverty, hunger and the prevalence of HIV and AIDS make life difficult there. But with help from ELCA World Hunger, the hunger-fighting ministry of the ELCA, the people of Malawi are improving their quality of life.
They experience God’s work with the helping hands of others, and they continue God’s work with their own hands.
In October 2009, speaking from the pulpit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi Cathedral Parish in Lilongwe (the nation’s capital), Philip Knutson cited Matthew 14:13-21 (feeding of the 5,000) as the gospel text to preach on the new ELCA tagline, “God’s work. Our hands.”
In the Gospel story, Jesus’ disciples wanted to send the people away. There were just too many to feed with only five loaves of bread and two fish. But Jesus performed a miracle and fed all the people with just what the disciples had.
Knutson stressed that God’s work is found in everyday life with just what the people have. The sermon came at the end of an eventful week. Christopher Carpenter and Sue Edison-Swift (who both work with ELCA World Hunger), accompanied by Knutson, revisited two communities in Malawi. They saw the positive effects of ELCA World Hunger gifts.
They saw many people doing God’s work with their hands — baking, irrigating, planting seedlings, taking the pulse of a patient and giving medical care.
In Samuel/Chakwela Village they found God’s work in the hands of a woman who pumps clear water from a borehole.
In the village of Kambuzi the travelers saw chickens, pigs, goats, seed banks and a shallow well, the results of gifts well tended by the hands of the people of Kambuzi.