Mwawi Chilongozi in Malawi

Dear Friends,

This week, Mwawi Chilongozi reminds us of why Christmas is the most joyous day for Christians in Malawi and worldwide.

Mwawi and George with their children, nephew, and niece

A landlocked republic in southeastern Africa, Malawi is home to over 20 million people. Lake Malawi runs across most of the country’s eastern border and covers almost a third of Malawi’s area. Largely agrarian and rural, Malawi relies mostly on cash-crop and subsistence agriculture. According to the 2018 census, around 82% of Malawians are Christians, 14% are Muslims, 2% report no religious affiliation, and 1% practice traditional religions. In November, Malawi’s currency, the kwacha, fell 44% in value against the US dollar to adjust for economic imbalances, raising prices of basic supplies in one of the world’s poorest countries.

An ordained minister, Mwawi serves as Secretary General of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) and Parish Minister of the Thanthwe CCAP Congregation. The largest Protestant denomination in Malawi, the CCAP also includes synods in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. With support from Scholar Leaders, Mwawi earned a PhD in Practical Theology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Her research focuses on how the Church can promote socioeconomic empowerment through microfinance, especially among rural women, in order to alleviate poverty and strengthen social networks. Mwawi and her husband George have three children: a twenty-year-old son, Chisomo, and seventeen-year-old twins, Deborah and Emmanuel. 
Mwawi shares the following devotional and prayer requests:

Jesus Christ is the Reason We Celebrate

Do we know why we celebrate Christmas? Is it just a tradition that we repeat every year? Luke 2:1-11 and Matthew 2:1-11 tell us that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of Herod the Great, when Augustus was Caesar in Rome. Guided by angels, shepherds came to visit Jesus. Summoned by a star, Magi brought their gifts. Jesus’ birth fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus was no ordinary baby but the long-promised King, who had come for the salvation of the world.

The first visitors – the shepherds – were men from the margins of society. Angels called them to see what God was doing for Israel and the whole world. A Savior had arrived humbly, dwelling among the poor and lowly of the earth. Yet, the child was a threat to King Herod (Matthew 2:3). He was born for the salvation of the poor and the rich, the educated and the uneducated, men and women, and people of all races. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  

Lake Malawi Sunset by Gift Bwanali (Unsplash)

Christmas Traditions

In Malawi, 82% of the population is Christian. Christmas is a time of celebration and family get-togethers. In Malawi, the festive season usually lasts two weeks. Schools are closed, and sometimes government offices are also closed for two weeks. The celebrations span Christmas and New Year’s Day. However, Christmas is the most joyous day. On Christmas Eve, as Presbyterians, we sing Christmas carols (in both English and our vernacular) from 8pm until midnight.

On Christmas Day, we go to church for prayers. During the service, children perform a drama on the birth of Jesus Christ. Some read from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, while others recite verses from memory. Afterward, people return home to have a family get-together and Christmas meal. The traditional Christmas meal is rice, chicken, and vegetables.

On Christmas, our church also has a program to reach out to the elderly, the sick, and the vulnerable. We give gifts to church members who are 80 years and above. This is to show the love of Christ, who did not come to judge the world, but to save us. Christmas reveals God’s love – “for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He is Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).

Malawi by Abrahan Echeverria (Unsplash)

Prayer Requests

1. Since January 2021, I have been serving as Parish Minister of the Thanthwe CCAP Congregation while also serving as Secretary General of the CCAP General Assembly. In January 2024, I will begin working full-time in the office of the General Assembly. Pray for me as God is leading me in this new direction.  

2. Pray that the financial situation of the CCAP General Assembly will stabilize.   

3. Pray for my children as they are now completing their secondary school education.   

4. Pray for Malawi as the country is going through an economic crisis. The Malawi currency was devaluated by 44% in November 2023. As a result, prices of commodities have gone up. Life is tough for most people as they cannot afford to buy basic supplies needed day to day.

Mwawi Chilongozi

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