This week, Mwawi Chilongozi reminds us of why Christmas is the most joyous day for Christians in Malawi and worldwide.
A landlocked republic in southeastern Africa, Malawi is home to over 19 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 77% of Malawians are Christians, 14% are Muslims, and 1% practice traditional religions.
Mwawi is pursuing 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.
An ordained minister in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Synod of Livingstonia, Mwawi ministers to the Zolozolo Congregation in Mzuzu. This year, Mwawi was elected Secretary General for the CCAP, General Assembly. The largest Protestant denomination in Malawi, the CCAP also includes synods in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Mwawi and her husband George have three children: a fourteen-year-old son Chisomo, and eleven-year-old twins Deborah and Emmanuel. Chisomo and Emmanuel are not pictured above because they are at boarding school.
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).
In Malawi, 77% 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).
1. Please pray for my family as we move from Mzuzu (where we have lived for 8 years) to Lilongwe, where I will serve as Secretary General of the CCAP, General Assembly.
2. Pray for me as I finish writing my thesis. I will submit my thesis in March 2021.
3. Pray for my children as they start new schools in Lilongwe.