Snapshots of Malawi #3 – “You’re in Front of Me; You’re the Need.”

Blog3Image

When I was little, my mom told me the story of a man walking along a beach. (No, this isn’t the Footprints poem—and yes, I promise it will tie into Malawi; stick with me.)

In the story, the man found thousands of star fish scattered and dying on the sand because the tide was low, and they couldn’t reach the water. As the man walked the beach, he picked up the star fish, one by one, and tossed them back into the ocean.

A skeptic came up behind him, telling him his efforts were futile—there were too many star fish on the beach for him to make any difference. But the man just smiled, picked up another star fish, and said, “It makes a difference to this one.”

How often do we justify our apathy by saying the mountains are too high, the chasms too wide, the needs too great? We see the million steps required to eliminate a problem, rather than the first step toward a solution. But what would it look like if we decided to focus on the needs in front of us?

During one of our debrief meetings in Malawi, our fearless leader Jeff Patterson made this exact point (albeit minus the star fish story). He said he often feels overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the needs in Malawi—the number of children without homes, families, or access to education.

Seeing the kids in the orphan homes enabled us to reset our perspectives. “I don’t have to look at all the problems we’re up against,” Jeff explained. “I just need to look ahead. If you’re in front of me, you’re the need—and I’m going to do what I can to help.”

It’s impossible to overstate the tangible difference Forgotten Children makes through child sponsorship; I didn’t even realize it before this trip. When we see photos of children in need, we can click away. We don’t have to consider their humanity—the image of God inherent in all of them.

When we interacted with the kids in Malawi face-to-face, all I could see was God’s handiwork. Their smiles, their laughter, even their sass—pure, sacred art. They weren’t just faces on a website anymore.

It was absolute magic to see some of our team members meet the boys they’ve spent years praying for, writing to, and supporting. It was even better to see the boys’ faces when they got to meet their sponsors—they were so excited to show off their school notebooks, their bedrooms, their favorite games. It made my heart ache.

All it takes to make that kind of difference is to look straight ahead—and see the need in front of us. (Full disclosure: This is not a sales pitch. I came back from Malawi and immediately started sponsoring a child because I saw the impact it made, and I can’t recommend it enough.)


For $38 per month, you can empower and equip a child of God. That sponsorship covers the costs of food, clothes, medical care, spiritual guidance, and education. Because of your investment, an orphan will know love, learn about God’s grace, and receive opportunities to pursue a sustainable career that ends the poverty cycle. See the children who still need sponsors here.

Leave your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.