“Life was so hard for me,” declares Rodney Lazarus Malendo as he reminisces about his childhood. By the time he was 11, Rodney had lost both parents and was sent to live with his aunt. She was young, newly married and poor. She explained to Rodney that she couldn’t afford to take care of him. Simply finding enough food to eat each day became a struggle. “I was spending the whole day without eating,” he tells.
Though he was a good student, and successfully completed his primary education, Rodney was unable to enrol in high school due to lack of finances for school fees.
Despite his rough upbringing, Rodney can see God’s hand on his life. Ten years after his parents died Rodney met OM Malawi workers Mark and Joshua. They befriended Rodney and shared with him what it truly meant to be a born-again Christian. The Lord stirred Rodney’s heart, and he decided to place his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
Rodney describes his life before accepting Christ as being unpleasing to the Lord. He admits that he was claiming to be a Christian but wasn’t living his life according to biblical standards. He now testifies, “I am led by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit reveals a lot of things in my life. Formerly, I was not a child of God, and I was not enjoying the gift of God. Right now I am just being moved by his Holy Spirit.”
Today, Rodney is a staff member with OM Malawi and is reaching out to youth in local villages through sports ministry. “This is the right strategy to reach out to people, especially the young men,” he explains.
A mix of about 60 boys and teenagers show up every Friday in Mussa village for Bible study and soccer. Through the ministry, Rodney has led several to Christ, which has greatly encouraged him: “My passion is to see people coming to know Jesus.” Anyone who spends more than two minutes with Rodney will know that he is telling the truth. He will happily share the gospel with anyone, anywhere, who is willing to listen.
Rodney and his wife, Joyce, currently do not receive financial support for their ministry work. He describes this as a challenge yet goes on to state, “We thank God that he always feeds us.” Rodney mentions the Bible verses where Jesus explains that people shouldn’t worry about food and that God will provide.
Rodney says that his lack of education has affected him financially in a negative way. Also, while his family would like to grow maize for food, the sandy soil around his village requires fertilizer that they cannot afford. Rodney admits that he and Joyce are surviving on less than one dollar per day. He goes on to say that people in the community will look at his lack of food and his financial struggles and will begin to mock God. They will see Rodney ministering to others but will question why God isn’t helping him in these needs.
Rodney, however, endures. He explains that he gets encouragement to press on in the ministry from his two favourite Bible verses. The first, Philippians 3:12, reads, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (NIV). The second is Romans 8:18 where Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (NIV).
Rodney has had a hard life, and in many ways he still has a hard life. But Rodney has much hope. When discussing his future, Rodney describes it as being very clear and bright. When he looks back on his life and the hardships he has faced, Rodney believes that God has been preparing him for something “big”. He proclaims, “Because of the courage which I have, I know that God will achieve a lot of things in my life. I just see a good future. If God is on my side nothing is impossible.”
For more information about the work of OM in Malawi, visit www.omafrica.org.