Children ask for Bibles in Malawi

God’s word is changing the lives of Malawi’s children. Now more and more of them are asking for Bibles, as Alan Kember explains.

I’ve recently returned from Malawi, and this had been the situation in every church I visited. Families are too poor to buy children’s Bibles of their own, and churches often see children’s ministry as unimportant. It’s up to us to provide God’s word to these little ones, so they can learn about Jesus and grow in faith.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than half the population is under 18. You see this as soon as you enter a township; there are children everywhere, barefoot, playing in the dirt, roaming in groups and jumping rubbish-strewn streams.

Many youngsters I met had few toys and not a single book at home. On Sunday, these children turn up at church in their hundreds. Volunteers do their best to retell stories from Scripture, but it’s a challenge. So for the last few years, our colleagues in Malawi have been providing children’s Bibles to Sunday schools.

Wanga with his children’s bible.

These Bibles are changing the lives of children. I met Wanga (in above picture) at his home in a Malawi township. He’s been going to church all his life, but he never really understood God’s word until a delivery of children’s Bibles arrived last year.

Now, he says, the simple language and pictures bring the stories to life – and his faith is growing. This studious, articulate boy has even preached to the congregation of 400 people since he received a children’s Bible.

“The Bible teaches us to obey our elders and be honest, and be active in the church,” added Wanga. “Having a better understanding gave me confidence to preach to the whole congregation, and I help lead Sunday school now. I’m inspired that Jesus began teaching when he was just 12.”

I was amazed by Wanga’s sense of purpose and hope. His dad, Peter, told me, “Even Wanga’s conduct has improved. He always reminds us to pray at mealtimes. He is learning and changing, and it’s making a difference in our family.”

The Bibles also attract more children to church. Previously around 70 children attended Wanga’s Sunday school. Now, more than 120 kids turn up each week, eager to hear the next story.

Wanga invited me along, and it filled me with joy to see these children proudly read from their own Bible books. Hearing their beautiful voices sing praise to God made me more certain than ever: We must provide more Bibles to Malawi’s children.

My friend Clapperton, who leads our ministry in Malawi, said he provides 3,000 children’s Bibles a year – but could distribute 10 times as many if only he had the funds. Every week, church leaders phone him up and ask for Scriptures. “We don’t feel good when we can’t help, but our finances mean we have no alternative,” said Clapperton sadly.

Even when our team can provide Bibles, there are never enough. Clapperton told me about a time he took 120 Bibles to a church, thinking that would be plenty. But when he arrived, he discovered 750 children in the Sunday school! 

I hope you’ll pray for Wanga and his friends; God is clearly at work among these young people. And thank you for your partnership in the gospel. Together, we’ll see a generation shaped and inspired by the Bible, so more communities across Africa can be transformed.

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