Annie Chikhwaza is – as a northerner would say – a tough lass!
She has overcome molestation, divorce, carjacking, a broken neck, attempted murder by a 200-strong mob, attempted rape, attempted suicide and the death of her husband. Yet her vision for a better world and her heart for the marginalised have withstood this battering. Despite all this, she has become the Mother of Malawi.
“I am calling you to serve Me.”
These are the words Annie heard in the middle of the night when she was 15. She replied with youthful enthusiasm, “I will serve You all my life.” But young Annie was in for a rough ride.
Born in the Netherlands during the Second World War, Antje Saakje Terpstra was a compassionate little Reformed Dutch girl. The ‘dirty boat people’ who came through the canal in her home town were looked down upon for being smelly and unhygienic. Yet the nine year old girl would ignore her parents' commands, knock on their doors and offer to clean their homes.
The compassionate little girl grew into a rebellious teenager. Her parents were unaware she had been abused by three different men in her childhood which was causing her difficult behaviour and strong emotions. But it was the stress of working in a psychiatric clinic that pushed her over the edge. Suicide consumed her thoughts; the book recounts her depression, the darkness and her multiple near deaths.
Despite several hospital visits, straitjackets and even shock therapy, nothing helped. Until her cousin invited her to a Brother Andrew Event in Amsterdam. His inspiring story, an altar call and a vision of Jesus with open arms caused Annie to jump out her seat in excitement. She calls that moment “the most amazing experience of my life.”
Her compassionate heart was restored. She began giving all her money to Brother Andrew’s cause, preaching in the streets of Amsterdam with her new friends and dreaming of attending a Bible School in the UK.
Only 50 pages into her story, and there is still so much to happen to this passionate Dutch woman:
• Starting a church in South Africa in the height of the Apartheid regime
• Escaping from an abusive marriage
• Deciding to marry a poor African minister
• Surviving several life-and-death struggles against persecution
• Founding a children’s village – Kondanani
‘Kondanani’ (Love One Another)
Despite the darkness, the abuse and the violence, Annie has built a globally appreciated orphanage described as an ‘oasis of love.’ The praise for her achievement is astonishing:
“She is an inspiration.” – The Sunday Times
“Everywhere across Malawi, children sit by the roadside waiting for something terrible to happen. Here, they run up to you, each more charming, clever, funny and take-home-able than the last.” – The Guardian
“I can’t stop talking about Kondanani. There is no place like it!” – Guy Richie
“Kondanani is a five-star orphanage. What they are doing is extraordinary. It’s a centre of excellence. A fantastic level of care is being given to these children.” – Jacques Peretti, Channel 4
“It has been my privilege to visit the Children’s Village several times to film the fruit of this extraordinary ministry and to share this with GOD TV’s viewers worldwide... Annie is an example of someone who is making a difference.” – Rory Alec, founder of GOD TV
The Village houses just under 200 children and boasts many children’s homes, the Caring Hands Infant Home (for babies), a primary school, nursery school, sports field and farm (including a pig pen, cattle paddock, cheese factory, banana plantation and a lake).
The reason for receiving so much high profile praise, and her very own Channel 4 documentary, was because of a high profile adoption back in 2006.
An unexpected visit from international pop-star, Madonna, catapulted her work onto the front pages. Despite the controversial ramblings of the international press, Annie stands by her lasting impression of Madonna as a loving mother. “She had given her a bath and was putting her to sleep with a lullaby. Madonna is very sweet as a mother and I could see it wasn’t an act.”
After a long court battle, Mercy was whisked away in a private jet to her new life, but Annie’s work continues. Her incredible story will undoubtedly inspire readers, whatever spiritual background they have. The Mother of Malawi is truly inspirational bedtime reading, pointing towards God’s healing power and plan to use us regardless of our past.
“Sometimes I stand in front of my house and look at everything around me and think to myself, ‘Only God could have done this.” – Annie Chikhwaza, taken from ‘Mother of Malawi’
April 12th, 2013 - Posted & Written by James Warwood