PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR OR HE WILL DIE!!! The words echoed off the walls of the church.
It was our first Sunday at Lingadzi C.C.A.P. and there was a guest preacher who was, to say the least, fired up about the need to pray for church leadership. I spent the rest of the service combing my Bible and wrestling with the message that was being given. It was the first time here, of many, I found myself wanting to stand up in the middle of the service and scream—no, NO! Where are you getting this?
It’s not that I completely disagreed with the speaker’s sentiment (shoot, we pastors can use all the prayer we can get!); his exegesis was just um, how do I put this gently—terrible. Though I didn’t learn anything about the Bible from the sermon that Sunday, I did learn a very important message about Malawian Culture. Death is real and scary.
The average life expectancy in this country is just over 50. Young children die from curable causes daily. The infant mortality rate, though improved, is among the highest in the world. Malnutrition runs rampant, which is what happens when a coke is three times less expensive than a bottle of clean water. I won’t even get into the appalling effect that AIDS has had on this place.
I know no other way to say it—Poverty Sucks. Poverty kills. And it is a fixable problem.
My grandfather had a saying that my family often quotes, “If money can fix it, it isn’t really a problem.” Some would argue that he was wrong, that it is the appropriate allocation and use of funds that truly fixes problems. Fine. But that doesn’t help the newborn who had a simple procedure done, but won’t live because the hospitals in Malawi don’t have the necessary equipment for the child’s recovery-or her family.
Last week, a neonatal surgeon told Hailey that Malawian doctors are immune to infant death because of its frequency. That is tragic. It needs to wake us up to what is wrong with a world where the rich are more concerned about their souring portfolios and estates than they are about dying children.
Maybe it’s just too overwhelming. Maybe we think we really can’t make a difference. Or we simply don’t know where to start because the problem is just that overwhelming. I don’t think it’s because we just don’t care. Whatever it is, the excuses need to stop. People are dying.