When I speak with someone for the first time here in the U.S., my accent always provokes the question, “Where are you from, originally?” When I answer, “Malawi,” I anticipate a follow up question: “Where is Malawi?”
Perhaps you were about to ask the same question or pull up your smartphone to look for it on Google Maps. I totally understand, and I am not offended at all because Malawi is one of several small countries in Southern Africa.
Like many other small countries in the world, it is also little known. So, let me briefly tell you five fascinating facts about Malawi, which is known as “the warm heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of its people.
1. Christianity Arrived in the 1800s
Christianity first came to Malawi in the mid-1800s. Dr. David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer, was the first missionary to come to Malawi. A few years after his death in 1873, missionaries from the Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, and other denominations began trekking down to Malawi, then known as Nyasaland (literally “lake land”), to evangelize and establish churches. A number of places in Malawi have names connected to David Livingstone. The second largest city in Malawi, Blantyre, was named after Livingstone’s home village in Scotland.
2. English is the Official Language
For most Malawians English is either their second or third language. Malawi has about 14 tribes and most of these tribes have their own languages. In addition to tribal languages, Chichewa [chi-chey-wah] is the national language (spoken across tribes). But English is the official language. The Bible has been translated into the national language and most of the tribal languages.
3. Almost 1/3 of Malawi is Covered with Water
Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and ninth in the world. David Livingstone called it the Lake of Stars. It is also known as the calendar lake because it is 365 kilometers long and 52 kilometers wide.
4. Host to One of Africa’s top Netball Teams
Malawi’s netball team (I am sure many in America will have to google “netball”) is one of the best in Africa. Actually, two years ago, it was the reigning champion of Africa. Netball is generally a lady’s game played with hands like basketball except they don’t bounce the ball.
5. Reformed in Name Only
Lastly but more importantly, although Malawi was first evangelized by Reformed missionaries, the confessional Reformed faith is almost dead now. There are very few confessional Reformed churches in Malawi. For instance, Blantyre, where I will be planting a church soon, the Lord willing, has fewer than five confessional Reformed churches. I know of only two. Our church plant will be the first confessional Presbyterian church in the city.
This is where Malawi Reformation Network comes in. By God’s grace we would like to plant more reformed churches that are faithfully preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We long to see Malachi 1:11 fulfilled in this land: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations… says the LORD of hosts.
Thank you for being part of this network. Through your prayers and financial support, we believe the Lord will biblically revive and reform his church in Malawi to the praise of his great name.
Rev. Confex Makhalira
Founder and Board Member of MRN