Malawi (MNN) — There’s a saying that goes, “Americans have the watches, but the Africans have the time.” It’s about taking time and focusing on community, which is what is behind the Chisomo Idea in Malawi.
Chisomo Idea president and CEO Noel Musicha says as an African leader, he noticed that a lot of organizations thought in terms of “fruits” all the time. However, in the Malawian environment, “We tend to think in terms of ‘roots:’ how deep are our roots going in our community, versus ‘what kind of fruit do we have right away?’”
In their context, developing the relationships with people reveals priorities. Time nurtures the seeds that are planted, and it is the tree that grows from the seed that brings change. For example, take one of their math tutors. Musicha explains, “The community that we minister in has a very large Muslim population. This girl came to us, and she functions as one of our volunteers. We are allowing her to have the responsibility of tutoring kids because you don’t have to be a Christian in order to tutor math.”
She tutors on Saturdays, but she recently joined the weekly Bible studies on Thursdays. Then this happened: “‘I really have this gift of tutoring, but I feel like I’m missing something. Whatever you guys are talking about on Thursday, I feel like I need that.’ Through that, she’s made a commitment to follow Jesus.”
It takes diversity to build strength (“a cord of three strands is not easily broken”). Chisomo Connect is a sponsorship program that brings in others, but with a twist, says Holly Cunningham, COO at Chisomo Idea. ”In some ways, it’s like sponsorship, like what you would think. There’s a $35/month commitment that’s a part of it, but then we seek to actually create communities and create real relationships between the sponsor and the person that they are sponsoring.”
How does that differ from any number of other sponsorship programs? By the numbers. There are one-to-one relationships, but also ten-to-one opportunities, explains Cunningham. No more just writing letters back and forth. “10 different people will have the ability to sponsor one single mother (for example) in Malawi; then, as an organization, we are creating a different means for them to be actually in relationship, not only with that single mother, but also with each other, believing that relationships are so important to the development.”
February is 29 days long this year. And this month, Chisomo Idea is challenging you to take a leap. “We have a campaign that we’re running,” says Cunningham. “It’s actually called 29 for 29 (for the 29 days of February), where we have 29 individuals who are available for people here in the United States to connect with through our sponsorship program.”
Leap into a real relationship with someone across the world. Connect with a single mother, an athlete, a staff person, a child, or even a full family.
Cunningham says it’s all about the Gospel in action. “When we can create a community where people are in continual relationship with one another, that happens naturally, and they will feel like they belong, which will lead to believing.”