Reflections From Malawi

Stephanie Haugen, Associate Campus Pastor, South Barrington | June 4, 2024

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  
1 John 4:10-12 

A few weeks ago, my husband and I visited Willow’s partners in the country of Malawi, one of the least-resourced countries in Africa. It was an incredible trip. We saw first-hand the fruit of years of friendship and connection our church has had with Christ-followers and churches there. 

We met groups of Malawians who deeply love one another—meeting in groups of 8-12 people regularly to pray, read the Bible and worship multiple times a week—and  showing up for one another when they have practical needs in extremely tangible ways. 

We heard a story about a family whose home had a hole in its sheet metal roof and how their small group showed up to repair it. Each person in the group worked hard to save up money to buy supplies to fix the roof, and then gave of their time to fix it.  When one of the children became very sick, the group put their money together to buy the much-needed medicine. 

Another group, of all women, bakes banana bread together to provide income for their families. They work as a team collecting the bananas, buying the baking supplies, baking the bread, selling it and then sharing the proceeds with hungry, homeless families who live around them.

The sacrificial love of Christ we observed in Malawi was breathtaking. Today’s verse in John says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” It was beautiful to “see” God through the powerful sacrificial acts our Christ-following brothers and sisters were living out. It was clear, and it was compelling. 

It doesn’t matter which side of the world you are on, our Christlike love for one another expresses itself in powerful ways—to one another and also to the people around us who have yet to come to know Him. 

Next Steps

  • Take time to slowly read 1 John 4:7-21, which is the “one another” chapter in the Bible. It explains God’s great love for us, and how it models for us how to love each other. 
  • With your group, determine how you can love well by living out the rhythm of “serving” this summer. What are the needs of individuals in your group? Maybe in your local community?