A letter from Catherine Day in Malawi
March 22, 2010
As spring is being heralded in the northern hemisphere, we in the southern hemisphere are preparing for the harvest and the coming of winter. You are surrounded by new life and new growth and we are enveloped in mature growth and harvesting of crops. And yet we are all preparing for Easter. It is just from a different perspective. For you, it is in the budding of the trees and the crocus blossoms that anticipate life after the harsh winter snows. For us, it is in the maturing of a corn crop that we had almost lost hope for until the late rains came, renewing life and hope. God is in all of it, reminding us that he is the one who holds life, who gives life and grows life in us. And he is the one who gave his life for us. That is a truth that has nothing to do with geographic perspective, but rather with a spiritual perspective.
I was reminded of that truth this past Saturday when I participated in a youth rally in a rural parish in one of our most remote presbyteries. Over 300 youth from six churches and 14 prayer houses traveled, some more than 50 kilometers, to hear the speakers and sing the songs their pastor and youth leaders had arranged for them. The first speaker was a young theology student, Henry, who spoke powerfully about God’s love for us. He used the text that so many of us know by heart — John 3:16. There we sat, in a small church with a dirt floor and not enough chairs for everyone, so many sat on the dirt and listened intently as Henry explained God’s great love for us in sending his only son to demonstrate that love to us. This was all in Chichewa, so the words were new for me, but the truth is the same in any language. Some of these young people had heard the message many times before, as we have, but the power of the truth of the message touched many hearts, and many of the youth made commitments or recommitments to Christ as Lord and savior of their lives. They experienced new life, as God intended for us. The truth of new life in Christ is the message of Easter, regardless of the hemisphere or the season of the year. The message of Easter changed the lives of youth in rural Malawi just as it changed mine in the United States so many years ago. My responsibility at this gathering was to talk about how we grow in our relationship, once it is established. That is the core of the message for many of us. New life is wonderful, but growing to maturity is the real proof of new life. It is the purpose for that life. So it is not spring OR harvest season. It is both.
My prayer for those youth and for each of us this Easter season is that we grow in the life that Christ has given us, to become the people God wants us to be. For me that will be following doctors’ instructions as I regain strength from the hip replacement surgery. I don’t know what it might look like for you, but what I do know is that God’s love and grace will enable us to grow in whatever situation we find ourselves. His resurrection power is at work to cause us to grow in him.
Blessed Easter, my friends.
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 59