Eat Like Christmas
by Dr. Bruce Main
March 05th, 2015

"O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the need of others, open my ears that I may hear their cries, open my heart so that they need not be without succor, let me be not afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the rich. Show me where love and hope and faith are needed, and use me to bring them to those places. And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee."- Dag Hammarskjold

Recently I visited one of our ministries in Kanengo, a small village in Malawi. There I met a 12-year-old girl. I asked her slowly (my Chichewa was limited to little more than a poorly memorized vocabulary of hello and thank you), "What do you like best about the after-school program?"

The wide-eyed girl giggled and looked down at the mud floor. "My name is Miracle." Her English was as limited as my Chichewa. "" She struggled to form her sentence. " like Christmas- every day."

Eat like Christmas?

Sitting cross-legged on a dirty concrete slab, holding a green plastic plate on her lap, and carefully using her fingers ("God's forks") to get bits into her mouth, Miracle eats a little rice, a boiled egg, collard greens, and a small wedge of tomato. That is eating like Christmas in Kanengo. No candied yams or golden brown roasted turkey with cranberry sauce. No ornately shaped cookies or grandmother's mince pies, nor crystal goblets carefully unwrapped for the season. No flavored coffees, no after-dinner mints.

I watched Miracle sit shoulder to shoulder with fifty other boys and girls, silently eating their food. Eating is serious business. I knew this would be their only meal of the day. Most kids don't know when they'll eat again.

There is a school in Kanengo, but it has more than 2,000 children- and only thirteen teachers. The fourth-grade class alone has 180 children. Books do not exist. Teachers are overwhelmed. Windows in the classrooms are broken. There's a basketball court, but no net.

In addition to the poor educational opportunities and nutritional resources, there are other dangers for young women like Miracle. "One of the big problems with our girls," explained our director, "is that they have to walk to and from school. Too often they get targeted by the truck drivers who drive all over Malawi picking up and delivering tobacco. The drivers stop and make extravagant promises to the girls in order to have unprotected sex. The girls, too frequently, become pregnant and infected with HIV. The cycle of poverty  and unwanted children continues."

Obviously, the needs in Kanengo are immense, and that's why member of our team commute there each day in an effort to help. Providing a program for fifty children might seem insignificant against the backdrop of multiple thousands of impoverished kids, but it is a start. I have always been encouraged by Mother Teresa's words: "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."

Because of the commitment of our workers in Malawi, God's neediest children can eat, play, sing, dance, pray, study, learn, and receive God's love- just like it's Christmas, every day.

In 1988, Dr. Bruce Main founded UrbanPromise Ministries in Camden, NJ to equip children and youth with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and Christian leadership. Selected by Christianity Today as one of the country's "“50 Up & Coming Leaders Under 40,"” Bruce speaks nationally and internationally at mission conferences, colleges, churches, and business seminars. 

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