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Helping Kids in Malawi Live God’s Word

MULTIPLYING IN MALAWI: Teaching otLIVE in public schools

In one of the poorest countries in Africa, God’s inspired Word has breathed new life into schoolchildren. Walk Thru the Bible’s otLIVE (our live event that teaches the big picture storyline of the Old Testament), and soon ntLIVE, is bringing lifechange to children (and their parents and their teachers) in Malawi.

Walk Thru the Bible Global Trainer and Southern Africa Children’s Coordinator Lynnette Stander regularly communicates with WTB trainers, instructors, and classroom teachers in Malawi. They report that not only are the children turning to God, but the fruit of their growing faith shows up in their daily lives. Teachers, parents, and even the children themselves say that their behavior has changed. In addition, they’re excited about what they’re learning about God’s Word. Lynnette says, “The children want to learn more about the Bible, and they are asking meaningful questions.” kids in Malawi are eager for more.

And Walk Thru the Bible is answering kids in Malawi.

Small Window/Big God
In keeping with one of Walk Thru the Bible’s growth initiatives for this fiscal year, WTB continues to reach and teach children who are biblically unengaged through our global children’s ministry. One country that has seen much fruit from teaching God’s Word to children is Malawi.

A small, landlocked country in southeastern Africa, Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries. Its economy depends heavily upon agriculture. Most of Malawi’s families, struggling under the weight of crop failure, government corruption, and the HIV/AIDs pandemic, live on less than $1 per day. A majority of their children will not finish primary school. In fact, given the cost of secondary education and the high rate of adolescent pregnancy, Malawian girls have only a slim chance of remaining in school past eighth grade.

There’s such a small window of time for these children to learn. With God’s help, WTB is shining the light of Christ through that window for more Kids in Malawi each year.

This year, Walk Thru the Bible will reach and teach God’s Word to at least 1.5 million children around the world! We are helping kids in Malawi–and everywhere!–live God’s Word. And you can help!

Teaching the kids about God and His Word
Throughout Scripture, God’s prophets encouraged His people to teach their children about Him and His ways, so they would know Him and what He had done for them. In the New Testament, Jesus made a point of gathering children to Himself, giving them inherent value by paying attention to them, something the current culture did not do. He encouraged adults to teach the children, to accept them as important in His kingdom, even pointing to a childlike heart as a model for adults.

It’s clear that God loves children. And in keeping with its global mission, Walk Thru the Bible is reaching at least 1.5 million children around the world this year with His Word, His truth, and His love.

One such area is the Southern Africa region. In partnership with Starfish Malawi since 2012, Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa has been involved in the ongoing training of full-time otLIVE instructors in Malawi. These WTB-trained, local instructors teach the Bible in their home language, Chichewa, in 54 Malawian public schools where otLIVE is taught in weekly lessons to more than 8,000 children each year.

Karen Melby, a board member of Walk Thru the Bible, was able to witness the teaching in Malawi last year. There to visit some family members, she also wanted to see Walk Thru the Bible’s work in Malawi public schools. Karen and her daughter drove to Salima to the offices of Starfish Malawi and  met Starfish Malawi’s Director Emmanuel, as well as Wiseman (a WTB instructor and trainer), and Sarah, another WTB instructor.

In partnership with Starfish Malawi since 2012, Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa has been involved in the ongoing training of full-time otLIVE instructors in Malawi. These WTB-trained, local instructors teach the Bible in their home language, Chichewa, in 54 Malawian public schools where otLIVE is taught in weekly lessons to more than 8,000 children each year.

“Starfish Malawi ministry is a wonderful partnership that Walk Thru the Bible is tapping into to help implement its mission and vision,” Karen says, “which is teaching the Word of God and helping people understand and engage with it.”

The Starfish team took Karen and her daughter to Kalonga Primary School. As they waited for the teacher who would tea

ch otLIVE to the 6th graders, Karen asked, “How can you teach the Bible in a public school?” They explained to her that the department of education in Malawi has a Bible component to their national exams that children must pass. “They told me that the schools and teachers welcome these Bible lessons with open arms,” she says.

But God’s Word is not always initially well-received in the areas populated by people of other faiths. Three years ago, the Gideons placed Bibles in one elementary school in the Salima district, in an area where Christians are a minority. The reaction? The school principal not only refused to allow the Bibles to be used in the school, but also instructed the children to destroy the Bibles to make the point.

But this scene of destruction was not the end of the story.

A few years later, WTB Southern Africa tried a different approach: bringing otLIVE into that school to satisfy the curriculum requirement of Bible Knowledge. In a moment that can only be credited to God’s grace and His working, the principal at the school—who let the children tear up the Bibles just a few years earlier—agreed to allow WTB instructors teach otLIVE there in order to fulfill the Bible curriculum requirement. Not only that, but recently, when the Gideons brought Bibles to that school again, the principal allowed the children to be given the Bibles and to read them. Why? Because of a change of hearts.

“I am a changed person!” – kids in Malawi
The kids in Malawi love otLIVE. They love the interactivity and movement of the teaching; they love the memory tools and how the teaching makes the Bible fit together. They love the Bible stories and some have even picked favorite Bible heroes. This is remarkable, since so many of the children come from the background of another faith. But now they are learning God’s grand Story of Scripture, of redemption, of hope.

Fifth-grader Patience says, “otLIVE and its lessons helped me to love my friends and change my behavior. I used to be involved in fighting and was rude to my parents. Now I am a changed person!”

For Chisomo, the Bible lessons have helped her not to fear the unknown. “God can use me in a mighty way as He used Gideon,” she says. “I don’t have to be afraid.”

One fifth-grade girl at Katelera Primary School has been particularly touched by the story of Joseph. Even though Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, he ultimately forgave them and provided them with food during a severe famine. For children like her, who live in an area plagued by food insecurity, offering food, even after betrayal, is a powerful sign of forgiveness and blessing. “I have learned, through these lessons, that forgiveness and love go together,” she said. “I have learned to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A sixth-grader has also encountered Jesus through the lessons she’s learned from Walk Thru the Bible. And she also comes from a family of another faith. “I thought that in the Bible, in Christianity, that women aren’t important, that God doesn’t use them,” she says, but she’s discovered that indeed, to God, women are valuable and are entrusted by Him to do greater things. “I will keep going to these lessons to learn more of the good news of the gospel,” she says.

As her relationship with Jesus develops and as her understanding of Scripture deepens, she has chosen to remove herself “from bad influences,” as she says, and she has begun to share the gospel with her classmates.

After seeing the result of her child attending these Bible classes, her mother made a surprising decision. “I didn’t want my child to attend the classes on the Old Testament which are taught at the local school. A while later, I noticed such a change in her, and I remarked to her that I liked what I saw. She replied, ‘Mother, I did go to those Bible classes at school, and since then my life is different.’ I have noticed such a positive change in her that she now has my blessing to attend,” said her mother.

Multiplication lessons
Excitement about learning the Bible has grown beyond the kids in Malawi and other schools where Walk Thru the Bible is present. Other schools are now approaching the WTB instructors and asking them to bring the otLIVE lessons to their schools, as well. The new schools have heard about what is happening in the schools where it is currently being taught. The instructors have heard comments like “What you teach is so much better than our religious education lessons.”

Walk Thru the Bible is responding to these requests by training more instructors for otLIVE and now, for ntLIVE. This excitement is an excellent opportunity to reach more children in Malawi than ever before. As one teacher pointed out, “otLIVE is teaching the children the gospel in a way that they can understand. It is a wonderful evangelism tool.”

Even children of other faiths are enjoying the lessons and being exposed to the truth of God’s Word and the gospel. And the numbers of people coming to Christ are multiplying.

After her trip to Malawi, Karen Melby shares this excitement. “Just to see the ministry firsthand in another part of the world makes it even more special. Walk Thru the Bible exists to help people everywhere live God’s Word. And it’s such an amazing thing that these children are learning the Bible at this young age. It was so beautiful to watch.”

I want to help kids everywhere live God’s Word!