A short extract from Chapter 1: The day of my execution
“It wasn’t the end; it was only the beginning!”
“Kill her… Kill her… Kill her!” screamed the crazed woman leading the mob of African villagers as they rampaged towards Annie and Lewis Chikhwaza’s home. “ Pha… Pha… PHA... (‘Kill’),” she shouted in Chichewa, her mother tongue. Armed with tribal weapons, “knobkerries”, machetes, and large sticks and stones, there was no telling what damage they might inflict on the couple’s property, let alone its occupants.
Ordinarily, the village of Bvumbwe, near Blantyre, the former capital of Malawi, was a peaceful rural settlement. Framed by clear blue skies, its dusty farm roads were lined with green fields and shady trees, the hot African sun beating down on the uneven thatched roofs of a myriad of brick huts. The occupants were usually friendly and full of smiles, their children waving, but not today.
The tranquillity of the Malawian countryside had been interrupted by maddened cries for death and destruction. Annie was shocked as she looked out of her front window to see a mob of two hundred armed villagers in the distance. She and her husband, Lewis, had received several death threats, but she had never expected this.
The long-standing family feud had reached crisis point and she knew she was in grave danger. “This is the day of my execution” was her ominous evaluation of the developing crisis. She hurriedly locked the doors of the house and ran to the bedroom she shared with Lewis, locking the door behind her and hiding under their bed.
It was 30 September 1996 and Annie had lived in Malawi for barely three years. Already she had accomplished a lot to help alleviate the poverty of the local community, but her husband’s children had never accepted her and now they wanted her dead. “Is this the end for me?” Annie questioned as she heard gunshots.
“Is this the way I’m going to finish up, even though God has called me to serve the people of Malawi?” she thought as she lay under the bed. “Who will help them now?” It was hurtful to think that the people she had tried to help the most had turned so violently against her. The Chikhwaza children were furious with their father and stepmother and had hired villagers to assist them in getting rid of the couple.
The mob surged forward and surrounded Lewis’s car as he dashed into the Bushveld, followed by an axe-wielding teenager. The mob now started to attack his car. They smashed the windscreen and slashed the tyres, brandishing their pangas, a type of machete with a blade about forty centimetres in length. Incensed, the crowd of villagers then began to attack the house. They smashed the windows and broke down the doors, and eventually found their way to Annie’s bedroom…
When Annie saw those two hundred people surging towards her, she thought it was the end, but it wasn’t the end; it was actually the beginning.
“We all have to face challenges in life because we are in an obstacle race” Annie says.”We can’t just stop and give up; we have to jump over the obstacles and keep moving towards the finish line. An obstacle is there to be overcome. It is there to strengthen you, to bring out God’s character in your life, so you can continue to fight the good fight of faith. God later revealed to me that He would use the land where I had been left for dead to give life to others – that it would become a sanctuary for babies who had also been left for dead, for children who had been rejected. A place of hatred would become a place of love – Kondanani, which simply means ‘Love one another’.”
Why did Annie go to Malawi? And, how did she find herself in a situation of constant death threats? How did the ‘Day of her Execution’ come about, and if this was only the beginning of her ministry to the people of Malawi, then what was to follow? When did Annie begin to face her first obstacles in life and how did she overcome them? How did overcoming ‘the lion’ and ‘the bear’ as David the shepherd boy had done, help her to face her ‘Goliath’?
How was she able to overcome doubt, fear and unbelief, time and time again, to open a door of hope for others? How was she able to overcome hatred and unforgiveness to create an oasis of love in the middle of lack and despair?
Read Annie’s life story which contains the answers to questions like these… it is a ray of hope in the face of despair, love in the face of hatred and of God’s never-ending faithfulness.
Get your copy of Mother of Malawi and discover how Annie was able to spring back to life