In the proverbs of Agur (Prov 30:8-9), he prays that his lot in life will neither be one of riches or poverty. In one case he fears the temptation to be proud, on the other hand he fears the temptation to steal. For those of us who are in a land of material wealth, it is a remote notion that starvation can drive us to sin in ways we will not otherwise contemplate.
Not so the people in Malawi.
In Jan 2015, Malawi was hit by one of the worst floods in memory and followed by a period of drought in the year following. The nation, already poor, has been impoverished by these calamities and currently listed as the poorest of the ten poorest nations in the world. Aid has been coming in but not without conditions. I received this recent article (14 Jan 2017) disturbingly entitled “Sex for Food” reporting that village chiefs and aid workers are abusing their privileged position in the distribution channel to force girls as young as age 13 into survival sex. Furthermore, congregations of the EPCM have also been accosted to abandon their faith and join other religious groups in exchange for food.
We give praise that none of the members have heeded this call to desert the church, but continue to remain strong in faith. We thank God that we can use brothers on the ground to see to the purchase, security detailing and distribution of grain to the members. We have learned from past experience to rendezvous with members outside the village to avoid a riot and to accompany the grain truck with guards. We report with thanksgiving that the transfer of funds, purchase & distribution of grain, and the accountability of the process is getting more efficient and rigorous.
However there is a great need for us to petition for mercy. We must pray that the faithful Lord will protect our sisters in Malawi that they will not be tempted above that they are able, but that God will with the temptation make a way to escape that they may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). Pray for the relief team and local deacons that they may see to the fair distribution to the needy members and always act with integrity and honour to the women (Prov 6:30-32). Pray that Christians around the world may give of their abundance to the least of their brethren in Malawi, as giving unto Christ (Matt. 25:40). Also in this time of challenging deprivation, let us pray that our brethren may not deny Christ or take his name in vain (Prov 30:8-9)
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Proverbs 6:30-32 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry… But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
Matthew 25: 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.