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Big smiles in the warm heart of Africa


Children play outside the D-Malikebu Church of Christ in Jali, Malawi. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Blogging live from Thondwe, Malawi
The D-Malikebu Church of Christ is a simple brick building with stone pews that seem to melt into the floor. I’ve never seen anything like it.
There’s no sign outside the building.
But everybody seems to know that it’s here.
It’s been here — in a small village of the southern African nation of Malawi — since 1964, though the Christians had to rebuild it once after a fire. About 170 members worship here. The church has four elders.
Damison Nsapato has served as minister here since 1978. He and his wife are the proud parents of seven children and have 18 grandchildren.

The pews inside the meeting place of the D-Malikebu Church of Christ. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

I asked him in what year he was born and then stood dumbfounded as I scratched out the math on my reporter pad.
He’s 88.
I’m here in Malawi, known as “the warm heart of Africa,” as part of a reporting trip to southern Africa. I’ve also visited (and blogged from) Swaziland and South Africa.
Malawi’s people have lived up to their country’s slogan. Finding Brother Damison off a winding dirt road was an unexpected joy.
I’ve heard that there are 4,000 Churches of Christ here, although some members think that number is low. Everybody here has head of the Church of Christ, which has roots that reach back more than a century.
Repeatedly, I’m meeting gray-haired Christians who grew up in the church. On African soil, that’s rare.

Damison Nsapato (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

I asked Brother Damison how more than 100 people fit in the tiny church building. He looked at, shrugged and (through an interpreter) said, “Yeah, sometimes it’s full.”
After visiting the church, I watched as members of The Malawi Project distributed much-needed medical supplies to a rural hospital. In the afternoon, we rode far out into the countryside to present wheelchairs to a community action group that helps the disabled. More on that later.
And now for the obligatory animal picture. I shot this just before lunch in Zomba, Malawi. Who needs to go on safari when baboons roam the streets?

Baboons in Zomba, Malawi (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

  • Feedback
    The churches in Africa are growing, but our big problem is now church building. Most of the preachers are without jobs. Some could not take their children to school.
    I end here that churches need to visit the churches that they support in Africa. Fellow workers, come, come and let as work together in Africa.
    eric asante obeng
    August, 20 2010

    Hi,
    It is very interesting to see that The Christian Chronicle has published something on Malawi, my home country. This is typical of village setting Churches here in Malawi. We believe and trust that God is with us. Slowly but surely we will be there. To the writer, I know he may not have come across such type of Churches in America, but I know pretty well that he will or may have seen a lot more churches of such nature.
    Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. Its people are always happy regardless of the type of structures they are congregating in.
    Pious Chavula
    August, 20 2010

    Thanks be to God that brethren at Swedru Churchhas been freed. My prayers that may God give us understanding, wisdom and knowledge in such incident.My little suggestion to the Church is that if it will be possible, they must make a baptistry at the Church premises since rainfall and its heavyflood is yearly occurence so that such can be avoided.
    Alfred Koomson
    August, 25 2010

    May God bless our brethren at this congregation as well as Eric. May their soul be enriched with the Holy Spirit.Regardless of what they are going through in terms of infrastructure let the will of God be done. Brother Damison is a manifestation of what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18.
    God bless
    Eliam Kasambara
    August, 27 2010

Filed under: News Extras Travel Reports

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