It seemed like no one cared about Martha Nyakaluwa. A widow raising four grandchildren in Kasangamala, Malawi, she often could not afford enough food, let alone school supplies for her grandchildren. When Wezzie Nyirenda and other members of The Navigators Discipling for Development team began visiting homes in her village, Martha shared her struggles. When Wezzie and the group shared their faith with her, Martha saw the love of God. Their compassion demonstrated that they were on her side.
About that time, the village elected Martha to serve as a member of the community development committee that was working with the Discipling for Development team. As part of that committee, Martha began to study the Bible, pray, and fellowship with the group. But she also began to learn agricultural and business skills.
Over time, Martha grew into a successful woman in her village. By developing her God-given skills, she now has enough fresh produce to feed her family, and even extra she can sell—allowing her to buy things for her grandchildren. For Martha, “Immanuel” is more than just another name for Jesus. She knows that God is with her.
When you look at the life of Jesus, it’s pretty obvious that He was concerned with more than just the “spiritual” dimension of peoples’ lives. It’s not that what people believed wasn’t important, but the Gospels paint a picture of Jesus that demonstrates He cared about more than merely an adherence to correct doctrine. He cared about a person’s whole life.
He healed the sick (Matthew 14:14). He fed people (Matthew 14:15–20). He even wept with people (John 11:33-35). He taught about the importance of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
Discipling for Development strives to follow that example—ministering to the whole person. Although we serve people in poor, rural areas of Africa, there are no “hand-outs.” Instead, we help individuals and communities recognize the assets God has already given them. Then we help them discover how to become biblical stewards of those assets in order to solve their own problems. We help them see how the Gospel applies to every aspect of their lives.
Martha’s story isn’t an isolated incident. She is only one of 12 community development members in Kasangamala. Each member is experiencing transformation in many aspects of life. They have all seen their little group’s steps of faith multiplied in the lives of new spiritual generations of disciples who see their whole lives impacted by the Gospel.
Wezzie Nyirenda says, “We thank God that we can be used by Him to reach out to people like Martha and walk with them toward a wonderful future of attaining what God intends them to be.”
For more information visit disciplingfordevelopment.org
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