Region mourns loss of NCM Malawi coordinator

Region mourns loss of NCM Malawi coordinator

by | 10 Jul 2015
Alex Mkandawire unloads supplies from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries to those affected by the heavy flooding in Malawi. (February 17, 2015)

I was heartbroken to hear about the death of Alex Mkandawire, the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries coordinator for Malawi. He had been in the hospital with high sugar levels since May 31, and he passed away on June 18. He was a vibrant, active man in his 40s, and the news of his death came as a shock.

When I visited Malawi in February to write about the flooding, Alex was the one who met me at the airport and looked out for me during the three days I was there. I arrived in a new country alone, feeling a little apprehensive, and there was Alex holding a sign with my name on it and wearing a huge smile. He embraced me in a bear huge, burst into a hearty laugh, and off we went. My feelings of apprehension melted away.

During my short visit to Malawi, I grew to admire Alex and the joyful, peaceful way he served others. He was happy to tell me about his wife, Chimwemwe, and six children, the oldest being a few years younger than me. 
 
We spent two days visiting rural villages to bring flood victims food, blankets and encouragement. Alex maneuvered the Land Cruiser around muddy ruts, across sketchy bridges, and through streams that still covered the roads after the flood. (I was thankful that his previous job had been as a driving instructor!) Even riding in the vehicle for 10 hours was exhausting, I can't imagine having to drive. But Alex never showed signs of weariness or irritation.
 
Alex served in his role as Malawi's NCM coordinator since 2008, bringing food, shelter and hope to people in desolate situations. His focus in ministry was food security, and he helped manage a food security project in northern Malawi, according to Africa Regional NCM Coordinator Rev. Cosmos Mutowa.
 
Hundreds of people from all walks of life attended Brother Mkandawire's funeral on June 21, Rev. Mutowa said. 
 
"We met with the wife after the burial service and consoled her and comforted her," he said. "It was a moving time. She shared with us about Alex's last moments, how he was concerned about the work he was doing and the people he was ministering to. He loved people and loved serving God in the work that he was doing." 
 
Alex had recently earned a bachelor's degree in community development. Along with serving in disaster response and being a model of compassion, he also taught farmers in Malawi about agricultural conservation, Rev. Mutowa said.
 
"Through his leadership and knowledge of farming, many families have had their lives positively improved," he said.
 
I got to see Alex once more after my trip when he visited the Africa Regional Office in Johannesburg in March. His grin was as big as ever.
 
It is surreal to think that this passionate husband and father has passed away. I grieve for his family, for his friends, for the people he ministered to. We have to say goodbye, much too soon it seems, to an incredible disciple of Jesus. I praise God for his impact on this world while he was here, including the impact he made on my life and on my faith in just the three days I spent with him.
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