Healing the soul

Since its inception, the spiritual life of Partners in Hope Medical Centre (PIH) in Lilongwe, Malawi, has been as important as the medical services it provides.

Almost two years ago, PIH appointed a new full-time chaplain, Rev Joseph Chirwa, to oversee its spiritual work and development.

Rev Chirwa is also the pastor of a church in Lilongwe’s Area 36, which sits within the centre’s catchment area.

“Every day we come across patients whose needs are not just medical but also spiritual, and we consider the spiritual ministry as part of the ‘core business’ of PIH. My job is to lead that and the new SIM Malawi project will help us to focus our efforts for both staff and patients,” he explains.

“We organise activities for both the staff and the patients. So, for example, we have chapel services twice a week on Wednesday and Friday (pictured) and we have a staff Bible study every Thursday.

"We have more of a one-to-one setting for patients, but every day before the Moyo Clinic opens, we have prayers and some preaching in the patient waiting area.”

Rev Chirwa says the ministry has had a significant impact on the staff: “There has been an increased interest in prayer, with people forming groups to meet together to pray, and also praying with and for patients. The programmes we have are certainly helping people because I see them maturing in their faith.

“I’ve also seen an increase in the knowledge of the Bible for many people who want to know more about the Bible and how to use it.”

Looking to the future, Rev Chirwa is also seeking to appoint an assistant and there are plans to develop an intercessions ministry. “Prayer has increased in PIH and people are becoming more used to it. I think a dedicated intercession ministry will be a great benefit to both our staff and our patients,” he says.

“Such people may need encouraging in their faith and we are looking to offer prayer support in every contact we have. Our desire is that every member of staff and every patient we encounter in the centre and in the community, should meet Christ and they should be encouraged spiritually, even if they are already Christians.

“It is an ambitious aim, but one which we will strive to meet with the help and the grace of God.”

Partners in Hope Medical Centre was established in 2004 by a SIM Malawi missionary in what was a deserted medical warehouse, with the focus on making a difference to those affected by HIV/AIDS. It has grown into a busy medical centre that cares for more than 14,000 HIV/AIDS registered patients and is one of the five key focus areas for SIM Malawi through its medical discipleship and spiritual ministry.

Please pray

  • For God’s love and comfort to be shown and be known by those who are sick and suffering.

  •  For staff to realise the spiritual impact they can make in the lives of their patients and families.

  •  That individuals (both staff and patients) will be nurtured in their faith as part of SIM Malawi’s medical discipleship and spiritual ministry.

By Kerry Allan