January was lost.
At 24 years old, he was physically weak and spiritually empty. The young man’s parents had recently died, leaving him without a security net. In the rural community of Chikudzulire where January lived, there was little opportunity for youth to generate income.
His life had become stagnant.
Sometimes he would travel to the town market seeking entertainment with the crowd around a public television. The American programs January watched offered a glimpse into a world of excess and luxury far removed from his own experience. He was a young man without direction. Life held no promise for him.
Everything began to change when WOW’s local partner in Malawi started a community youth group.
In desperation, January joined the new group looking for connection after the death of his parents. Young people from another WOW-sponsored community came to Chikudzulire with the message of Christ’s love – youth discipling youth. January and his friends learned to study the scriptures and live according to God’s word. His life was transformed. He had hope. The young people of Chikudzulire began to share the joy they had found in Christ with other communities.
In 2009, three years after he first joined the youth group, January was nominated to be a provincial youth leader.
He felt inadequate to the task but others saw in January the making of a great leader. Eventually he was persuaded to accept the position.
At the encouragement of WOW’s local partner in Malawi, the youth group began crafting and selling mats for the community preschool. One requirement of this new income generating initiative was that youth had to use their profits to purchase their own livestock.
January used the money he earned to purchase a pig, a wood saw and open a bank savings account.
The young man put his new tools to good use. His pig had a litter of 9 piglets. Soon January was able to hire others to care for his livestock, and do carpentry work using his equipment. The perennial entrepreneur also joined the WOW-sponsored Nkhokwe program. Participants in the initiative were provided seed, fertilizer and agricultural training. January went from producing 3-5 (50 kg) bags of grain to a harvest of 60 bags!
In 2013, January joined a Bible training program offered through WOW’s local partner. Through studying God’s word, the young man’s eyes were opened. It provided further opportunities for him to lead and grow. Now he teaches a bible class for children in Chikudzulire.
“The people in my community call me Pastor because of the bible training I had been given…I hold a high position in my church and I am able to preach and share… I have respect in my community and I never ever thought that would happen to me.”
January was an orphaned youth without money, connections or hope but he has become role model in his community. The young man succeeded in farming maize, a developing a piggery and a creating a small carpentry business. He is a husband and father of four children. They live in a house January built himself.
But January has not forgotten his time of hardship. He remembers what it was to suffer alone. That is why January and his wife are now raising an orphan in their home.
He has become a father to the fatherless.
In every victory, January gives credit to God:
“I might have been suffering when I was young but the Lord had a different plan for my life. I never saw myself as someone that could be in a position to help people but now I am able to help many, in fact more people than you think, so the donors may look at me and see that they have helped January but they must know that through the help they have given me they are helping far more people then me, even beyond this community.”