The girl whose name means 'blessed'

In a Malawi slum, Alan Kember meets a young girl who has found God in the pages of her Bible.

I’m in Malawi, driving into a slum. The team are nervous about taking me here. All around are shacks made of breeze blocks with tin roofs. There’s no electricity or running water. The stream we cross is full of rubbish and smells foul.

But in the church, a number of children are waiting for us looking immaculate in their Sunday best. It was here that I met Tadala, whose name means ‘blessed’. I was certainly blessed by what she said to me later that morning. 

Tadala shares her enthusiasm for the Bible with Alan

Tadala is 10 years old and is one of 110 children in this slum church. She told me she always came faithfully to Sunday school lessons, but struggled to understand what the teachers were talking about.

Without this Bible, I couldn’t have known God 

Then, thanks to our supporters, Tadala received a children’s Bible . It’s something her family would never be able to afford themselves, and it’s so precious she doesn’t take it home. Instead it’s kept safely at church so she can read it at Sunday school.

‘Now, I really understand what it means to know Jesus,’ she said. ‘I enjoy reading it so much. Without this Bible, I couldn’t have known God. Thank you… I don’t know the words to express how much I can thank you.’

As Tadala skipped back home into the slum streets, I silently prayed for her future. She wants to be a doctor and a Sunday school teacher when she grows up. Most of all, I pray she’ll know the joy and purpose of life with Jesus.

Providing Bibles to children in Sunday schools across Malawi is a key project for us. This year we’d like to provide 2,000 English and 8,000 local language illustrated children’s Bibles, as well as train Sunday school teachers across the country.

Deepening faith

Why is this work necessary when 80% of people here are Christian? What I discovered during my visit is that the Church in Malawi is 10 miles wide and two inches deep. People say they are Christians, but many don’t really understand what that means. And in most churches, Sunday school teachers are massively over-stretched as they try to teach God’s word to classes of 100 children or more every week.

The Bible is the key to people really embracing their faith, and it’s vital for people to own and engage with God’s word. As Malawi has such a young population (67% are under 25), it makes sense to provide the Bible to children first.

One church pastor told me that a year ago, 18 children came to his Sunday school. Then he received Bibles and training on how to run proper sessions, and numbers have swelled to 170 children! I went to another church which attracts 600 children each week.

In fact, they have to meet outside in the shade of a tree because there’s no longer room for them indoors. Before they received Bibles a year ago, less than half that number of children came to church.

Currently, only around a third of children in each Sunday school we work with receive children’s Bibles and with growing attendance the demand is increasing. I have seen for myself what an outstanding project this is. It touched my heart, to see the next generation in Malawi deepen their knowledge and faith in God through their love of the Bible. We want to say a huge thank to our supporters who make this work possible.

 The cost of getting a Bible to Tadala was just £5. You can help support children like her every month by joining Bible A Month

Bringing the Bible to life

Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon, SN5 7DG. Registered charity 232759

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