“Its a nation of peace, best known for its beauty,
People with a smile, but they are crying inside
Its a nation of corruption
Mass rooting and disruption
It’s like an immigration; from heaven to hell.
But I can’t run away, Malawi is my country”
Something about travelling makes me aware of the involvement of God in my life, what theologians call providence, I am often aware that I could have a meaningful life-changing conversation with the person next to me or the often big moments that await me at my destination. My prayer is always for God to help me be aware of His presence and working in the people I meet along the way and at the destination.
I love being on the ride back home, a time I often spend reflecting on the impact of the trip on my life, what did I learn that will help me change something or what did it reaffirm about where I’m at at this moment? These are often the questions I ask myself, today is no different, I just had an incredible few days in Lilongwe with amazing and inspirational people. Of course one of the subjects that always seems to come up is “maybe you should move here”.
Along with “you would thrive more abroad”, this seems to be one of the things I’m often told, it is honestly the most logical thing. It makes perfect sense for me to move to a place where all the big hopes and dreams I have stand a better chance of coming to life.
I was recently in a conversation with a peer who rightly believes that life in Malawi is anything but good, he believes this is where dreams come to die, and that everyone who wants to make it here should book a one-way ticket to the next best destination. I don’t blame him for thinking this way, for the most part, I even agree.
The quote in the opening sentence is from an artist by the name of Faith Mussa, from a song titled “Don’t run away”, I love how the opening lines perfectly describe what it is like to live in Malawi. It expresses what most Malawians feel, apart from sentimentalism there is no major motivation a person can have for staying in Malawi, where everyday life seems to be moving backwards.
Yet, knowing all this, I still stay, even with the opportunities to leave, here I am, here you are, here we are, still here. This is the part where one wonders if we are cowards, or really brave.
I don’t know what your reason for staying in, but I know what mine is, I’ve learnt to find my purpose in people, I don’t look at purpose as one single destination or occupation but rather something that continuously unveils itself in the process of being where you are meant to be.
I came across an Instagram post last week from @MastStartUp, I love how he describes his job as your purpose, not just the title or occupation one holds. It made me examine what I would say my job is in light of my purpose, and I would say right now, my purpose is to build relationships with people.
To sit, lean in, ask questions that prompt depth, to truly know people and of course to be known. Being here, in the city of Blantyre, in a small country named Malawi. I want to be here, walk into coffee shops where I am greeted by name, sit and hear people’s stories, be impactful in my community by raising the next generation of leaders, perhaps in that process be part of building the Malawi we want to see.
One of my favourite bible verses is Jeremiah 29:4-7:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. ‘
I love that God is telling Israel to seek the good and prosperity of the city in which they have been placed in exile, be involved and plugged in because when the city prospers, they too will prosper. I think it speaks to me as a Christian because Malawi is not my home, heaven is, but as I wait for heaven I have to seek for the good and prosperity of my country because, in Malawi’s good and prosperity, I too will prosper. This is where I find my purpose in staying, for building more of what I desire to see, for seeking the good of my country and my people.
For me, being “Here” at the moment looks like Malawi, what does that look like for you? Let me know in the comments below.