On a slight rise, overlooking Lake Malawi, they lie. Young men. Young women. Children. Called by God in Jesus Christ to come to Malawi. Faithful to that call even unto death.
We arrived at the old Bwandwe Church on the afternoon of March 2. The church had been one of the early sites of mission work in Malawi. Malaria killed many missionaries and disrupted the efforts.
Completed in 1900, the brick church is built in the shape of a cross. A congregation worships there today and holds a preschool in the building.
In the church office, the pastor shared with us the biographies of a number of the missionaries who had died while serving in the region. He then led us to their graves. Later, at the new Bwandwe Church, located a short distance away, we saw graves of additional missionaries and family members.
While the missionaries no doubt made mistakes (as do we all), it is, in many ways, because of their efforts that we made this trip. Through their ministry, blessed by the Holy Spirit, the church in Malawi came into being.
For these souls and their ministries, we give thanks to God.
Marquita Hill recommends the book Steamboat Parish by Charles Good as a history of missionary work in Malawi.