By Michelle Tom
This past May, I had the privilege of traveling to Malawi where God opened my eyes to see more of Him and His purpose in ways I could not have imagined. Our short-term missions (STM) team comprised of ten others from Christ Church and Wellspring Church located in the San Francisco Bay Area. I decided to go on my first missions trip primarily because I wanted to live out the gospel by serving and loving orphans and widows, as God commands in the Bible. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to serve with the team to help and bless others and to show the love of Jesus to those who may not have any hope.
During our time in Malawi, we visited two local communities: Tima and Mcheneke. It was such a blessing to meet and serve with the local volunteers at the care centers. Their love for Jesus was evident from the moment we met them, as they welcomed us with huge smiles and open arms. Despite the language barrier, I could see and understand their happiness in Jesus which exuded from them. I remember being overwhelmed with joy as we worshipped together on our first morning in Tima – we were with our brothers and sisters freely singing praises to our Lord.
Many of the volunteers live in the same communities and impoverished conditions as the orphaned children. They are a true example of selflessness and demonstrate what it means to fully trust in God despite their harsh circumstances. They give so much of themselves regardless of how little they have. It was truly encouraging to learn that the volunteers come from different local churches, which is a testament to their unity in Christ and His body working together sacrificially for the sake of the gospel.
The most impactful part of the trip for me was the home care visits, when we accompanied the local volunteers to the homes of the orphaned children. During my last home care visit in Mcheneke, we met a gogo (grandmother) who suffers from malaria and is the sole caretaker of her three orphaned grandchildren, who all attend one of the care centers supported by Hands. They live in a temporary dwelling, as their home was washed away during the rainy season earlier this year. I saw firsthand the suffering and despair they confront each day as it was clearly written on their faces.
Because the children seem so joyful at the care center during the day, it’s difficult to comprehend their situation and vulnerable circumstances without visiting them at their homes. This sharp contrast helped me to understand and appreciate the impact of Hands on the daily lives of the orphans and widows. Without the services that Hands provides through education, food, and healthcare, they would probably suffer even more from utter hopelessness.
After returning from the STM trip, I’m inspired to continue serving with my brothers and sisters as a unified body in Christ to further God’s glory and His kingdom. I look forward to the long term relationship that our churches will continue to build with Hands and the local church in Africa, as we partner together to bring the love and hope of Jesus to orphans and widows.