God will supply all your needs: A step of faith
By Sandra Skene
In July 2000 my husband, Alan, and I left our home town in Scotland to serve as missionaries with our church in Malawi. We felt blessed to be doing God’s work and were about to discover how true the verse “God will supply all your needs” really was.
We were to be based in the city of Blantyre but our work would involve travelling throughout the country, often to very remote villages. In the beginning, there was so much to get used to — from learning the language, buying my vegetables on the roadside and hoping not to make too many cross cultural “faux pas”!
Whenever we accepted the call to Malawi, I saw clearly what my husband’s role would be, but I did not see where I was going to fit, what my ministry for God might be.
While Alan was extremely busy from day one, I had gone from working full time as a pediatric nurse, serving as the pastor’s wife in our local church, and running our home to doing nothing! I wasn’t even running our home as we would live with another missionary couple for three months waiting for our house to be completed!
The need is seen, how will God provide?
But one thing I could do and that was attend church! Although very different to what I was used to, the joy and the vibrancy of the Malawian church members were very uplifting, bringing peace and assurance that we were where we should be in the will of God.
So every Sunday we would go to a different village church and our co-workers did likewise. Myself and my friend Anne would meet up and discuss the services we attended. We both always seemed to speak about the children who seemed so malnourished and very prone to catching infections. After talking about this for a few weeks, we realised we had to make a decision – either shut up about it, or do something about it!
We opted to do something about it!
We looked at some other small feeding programmes that were running and decided that, yes, we could do this! We purposely chose an area where there were no other programmes running – there were many projects around Blantyre city, but not so much out in the rural areas.
We chose an area where we had a church, but agreed that the programme should be community-based, not church-based. We just wanted to feed hungry children!
From identifying the location, we then met with the local chief and relevant health professionals to get permission to start. That left the issue of funding. We were blessed by the ready support we were given from a Christian charity for the first few years.
We were ready to begin!
God provides for the Malawi feeding programme
Armed with baby cereal, pots, plates, spoons, and water. There was no well near enough to our site so we took our own water!
We made the almost two-hour trip to the village. So it began! The mums all brought a few pieces of firewood so we could cook the baby cereal.
Our target group was children between 6 months to 5 years. Underweight children were referred to us via local clinics. We made weekly visits to the location, weighing the children on each visit.
While we weighed the children, the mums would cook big pots of cereal then everyone would eat. While the cereal was cooking and when time allowed, we would take the opportunity to share the love of God with the people.
James 2 verses 14-17 became so real to me at this time.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
I saw more clearly than ever before that you cannot be amidst so much need and preach without also trying to reach into the situation in some way.
I found that there were two ways you could react to such overwhelming needs – one was to see the enormity of the difficulties and just give up, defeated before you begin. The other was to see what little bit you could do and just do it!
This feeding programme is not huge – we decided we could cope with 25 children, but most of the time the programme runs with 40-50! It was the little bit we could do so that is what we did.
Initially, we went every week, giving each child a supply of cereal to take home so that they would at least have one meal a day until we would meet again. However, some of the mums had a two-hour walk each way to reach us and they asked if they could have a two-week supply and meet every fortnight. As a group, we agreed on that!
When we step out on faith, God supplies our needs
After about a year and a half my friend returned to the UK and that left me with a dilemma! Anne was the one who reached out for fundraising, and I was not keen on that part of the job! So I reckoned that when the money ran out I would stop going to the project. But my next thought was: “How do I tell hungry people I am not coming again??”
There and then I prayed “ God, if You want me to continue this work, then You have to send the money. As long as there is funding I will keep coming!”
Well, they do say be careful for what you pray for — 17 years later I am still going and God is still sending the money!
I do not actively fundraise! That was my prayer to God, that He would do that side! I give reports on the programme through newsletters, and people – individuals and churches – are led to donate!
In the beginning when new babies arrived my heart would sink and I would wonder “Can I do this?” Now I just say a quick prayer “God You have this!”
This programme has been my biggest “faith step” in Malawi, and I stand amazed at how God has firmly upheld His side of the bargain! I love making it clear to the mums that it is not me who is giving them these things – I am just the go-between – but that this is the love of God in operation through His people!
The programme has developed over the years as we started to see a steady increase in the need to supply baby formula. Many mums are also malnourished so their breast milk supply is not good enough, and sadly many mums die leaving babies who need milk.
The cost of this is prohibitive for most families and this is where we step in. At present at least half of the children on the programme are receiving milk formula. I used to get quite worried about the increase in the need for baby milk but as the numbers increased so did the funding!
We also try to help with medical costs for the children and their mums. Now and again someone from the village will come and ask us for help, and while we cannot solve everyone’s issue, we do what we can.
From my early days in Malawi of wondering what my ministry would be, I went from having nothing to do to wondering where the time went!
For me, this feeding programme has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things to be involved in. It is not a huge programme, but I believe it has reached into the lives of many.
If a child comes into the programme as a baby there is potential for that child to remain on the programme for three to five years. So relationships are formed, and while it can be very emotionally challenging, it is just so wonderful to see a little one growing and developing well.
My biggest prayer is for these mums to come to faith in Christ. Their lives are tough and to know Christ walks with them would surely lighten the load.
Learn more about Malawi at Nations Online.
What does God say about meeting our needs?
Scripture is full of verses in which God promises to supply all your needs.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:25-27)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
The Malawi program is proof that God will supply all your needs.
Currently, there are 55 children in the program. God is supplying the needs of these children as well as blessing the hearts of their mothers. I am humbled as I watch the way God moves on the hearts of others to donate.
I have a friend in the UK whose two little girls have fundraised for the programme over the years and who have actually been able to visit the programme and meet the children they help! At the time they began the fund raising, they were both under 5 years of age!
When she first heard about the babies whose mothers had died, Josie told her mum “ Mummy we have to help those babies!” Mum had no option!!! Now Josie and her sister Pippa do mini triathlons to fundraise for this programme. I have no doubt that their new little brother will get involved as more than a spectator at some point!
God does supply all your needs, I can testify to that!