By Rick Los
For those of you who have never been to Malawi, I can honestly say that it is a beautiful country populated with warm-hearted and loving people who are even more beautiful than the country itself.
My wife Ruby and I were very blessed to be able to visit again in July 2015 and it was like falling in love with Malawi all over again, but this time the love grew even deeper.
After 4 weeks in Malawi, we were finally able to visit the little town of Nkhoma. To be honest, Nkhoma wasn't really on our holiday itinerary, but our close friends Dan and Irene Schat through their organization 'Stand as One Ministry' were supporting a few projects there so we thought that in the best interests of our friendship we had better check things out.
We left the capital of Lilongwe enduring a typical Malawian drive through the countryside avoiding dogs, goats, chickens, cattle and people - kind of like a real life video game, but the goal is not to hit anything. We left the main highway and turned onto a paved secondary road that was in better shape than the main highway and I secretly hoped that just maybe we were heading somewhere special.
I have to admit that I'm not a very emotional man, but something inside me kind of lit up when we approached Nkhoma - and I knew it wasn't heartburn. I knew what it was, but I thought it best to keep my feelings to myself because these things don't happen to me very often. I had been expecting to find a dusty little outpost at the end of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere that just happened to have a field hospital and a school, but what we found was much, much more.
As we approached Nkhoma mountain I began to feel a peace from God which I hadn't felt in the previous four weeks of our visit - I later found out that Ruby felt the same way. Driving into town we found that Nkhoma was a historic mission town built on the side of the mountain with many majestic trees planted by the founders of the mission - some dating back over 100 years. This was quite special, but there was something different here - the people that we encountered during our brief stay inspired us and ministered to us without them even being aware that they were doing so.
The first person that we connected with was Heather who Dan had arranged for us to meet and to stay with at the CCAP Lodge. Heather was a bundle of energy and a great source of information/inspiration who directed us to the projects being supported by Stand as One Ministry.
Our first guide for the day was the lovely Chisomo who toured us through the soy milk production facility which has been producing over 800 servings a day of this highly nutritious drink- and as Dan continually reminds us all; "it only costs 4 cents to feed one child - $40 dollars will feed a thousand!" #feed1000. That's a great perspective and it's really a great program. The facility was super clean, well organized and quite obviously well run.
The next stop was Ebenezer Christian School where we toured some newly constructed classrooms, the library and the beautiful new teacher's residences. The school was situated in a lovely setting, it was well maintained and it was great to see that the teachers were being taken care of and blessed with some very nice housing. We had been fortunate to visit many schools in Malawi both private and government run and this facility was right there with the best of them.
Last but not least we were able to visit the home of Nicole where an orphanage was being run out of a modest home. Nicole has an amazing story, which is hers to share, but what struck us the most is how God is working through her to give hope to orphans throughout the region.
We were very inspired by how God is using Stand as One Ministry to support these impactful projects that are funded and very well run by (extra)ordinary people.
So Nkhoma, turned out to be much more than a dutiful stop to satisfy our friends - it was really a revelation of how God always has the ability to amaze us, even in the most unlikely of places. This is a place where God is quietly working through His people and providing a beacon of hope in a country that desperately needs it. I'm so glad that we came, but more importantly, I know that we'll be back........