Kondanani Children’s Village has proved to be an oasis of love for the people of Malawi, but such a cross-cultural, multifaceted ministry would never have been possible without the late Lewis Chikhwaza.
When he died in December 2005, Annie was heartbroken. She had lost the love of her life and her “beautiful African love story” had come to an end. She would now have to carry on with their vision alone, safeguarding Lewis’s legacy and staying faithful to the call to transform African lives.
“Half of me has been torn away,” Annie wrote at the time, “and I will need healing to be made whole again. However, I’m fortunate that I’m not left without hope. Father God is my comforter and a defender of the widows.”
Looking back over Lewis’s life, Annie remembers what a great man he was. “He was a gentle servant leader who loved God and the Scriptures. He often preached about overcoming obstacles and would always take time to exhort people who were struggling. He was an exceptionally wise man!” she says.
Lewis Chikhwaza was a humble man of God who was quick to give others the credit when things went well and had no problem taking the blame when things went badly. A straightforward, uncomplicated man from an impoverished nation, he was also a great visionary in his own right. He was able to see past his own limitations and the huge challenges facing his country and believe that God could turn even the most abysmal situation around. He had the foresight and dedication to look outside his culture, traditions, and country for revelation of the word of God and to bring this back to share with his people.
He was a leader Malawi could look up to: a politician at one time and an MP and friend of Malawi’s long-standing president, the late Hastings Banda; he was an emerging businessman in 1964 when Malawi was finding its feet after Nyasaland had gained independence from Great Britain, and the first Malawian to own a transport company.
Lewis was also the founder of two Christian ministries, Holy Cross and Bible Faith, a pastor to pastors, and the overseer of a network of churches. He was the co-founder of an orphanage, a nursery school, and a children’s village; the husband of his first wife, Elizabeth, who passed away and father of ten children, the husband of Annie, and “Papa” to a multitude of grateful, smiling faces.
It is not surprising, therefore, that when he died he was given a state funeral by the government of Malawi. There were four thousand people at the sombre event and it was covered on Malawi state television and radio. Lewis was obviously highly regarded by his countrymen and his funeral was a fitting tribute to a great Malawian. His legacy lives on through the work of Bible Faith Ministries, which Lewis handed over to his son Jeremiah, whom he always considered a great preacher. His memory also lives in the hearts of all at Kondanani, and especially those children who are privileged to attend the Lewis Chikhwaza Academy
As you drive in through the gates of the Madalo Children’s Village, you can look across the sprawling green lawn to the white marble memorial to Lewis Chikhwaza in the middle of the front garden. It’s a simple but elegant grave, edged by white chains and flowering shrubs – an ideal resting place beneath indigenous trees and surrounded by the bountiful lives of hundreds of contented children. The gravestone reads as follows:
LEWIS MONTFORD DANIEL CHIKHWAZA
Born 15th March 1928
Promoted to Glory 2nd December 2005
You were full of life, the God kind of life.
I miss your love and care.
You left a memorial which has eternal value.
Your wife, Annie Chikhwaza