Young Life Malawi

Reaching the young people of Malawi

Known as the warm heart of Africa thanks to the people’s friendly nature, Malawi is located in the southern part of Africa bordering Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. With an overwhelming 70% of the urban population in Malawi between the ages of 13 and 25, our mission to reach teenagers with the gospel has never been more critical. Young Life in Malawi started in 2004 with the prayers of Ali Buck and the obedience of Gary and Judy Hopkins to pioneer the mission.

In 2006, the ministry in Malawi transitioned to local leadership headed by Lusayo Mhango, Wanangwa Sanga, and Sarah Adams. Lusayo, Wanangwa, and Sarah tragically passed away in an accident in 2013. Although this was such a blow to the ministry, the team was able to courageously carry the ministry forward and faithfully continue to reach more teenagers for Christ.

Young Life is currently present in all 4 cities in Malawi and leaders knew 12,000 teenagers by name in 2022.

In 2022, leaders knew 12,216 teens by name in Malawi.


  • Population: 19,075,137
  • Main languages: English, Chichewa
  • Number of ministries: 61

Malawi summary

Malawi has long been one of the poorest countries in Africa and many Malawian kids have extensive physical and spiritual needs. An overwhelming 70% of the urban population in Malawi is between the ages of 13 and 25. Recently, Malawi has been in turmoil as it has greatly devalued its currency and inflation rates for some products are as high as 90%, putting pressure on the people—especially the poor.

In November of 2004, Young Life moved into Blantyre in the southern part of Malawi. Young Life in Blantyre started with the prayers of Ali Buck, who lived in the US and experienced Young Life as a high school exchange student from South Africa. From that experience, Ali vowed to have Young Life for her children one day. Thirty years later, Ali had settled in Blantyre along with her husband and their two sons. Through her prayers and the prayers of others, an American Young Life couple was sent to Malawi to help get Young Life started there. That couple, Gary and Judy Hopkins, spent three years identifying, training and discipling future Young Life leaders.

Despite that promising start, Young Life initially grew slowly in Malawi. It was more difficult than anticipated to transition Young Life from an international school ministry led by American staff to a national ministry led by national staff and volunteers. In addition, legal issues prevented access to government schools for the first three years of the ministry, which stifled growth. Both issues are now resolved, and Young Life Malawi emerges with some of our very best young leaders in all of Young Life Africa. Mphatso Stiles leads the Young Life ministry in Malawi carrying on the legacy of Wanangwa Sanga, Lusaya Mhango, and Sarah Adams who were tragically lost in a car accident in December 2013. But God is faithful, and Young Life Malawi continues to grow. In 2022, there were over 12,000 kids known by name and approximately 1,700 kids attending outreach clubs all over the country every week. Nearly 760 kids joined small group Bible studies and continue to grow in their faith.

Our impact

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Growth (2022)
Kids Known by Name
2,184 12,216 459%
Avg. Kids at Clubs 1,263 1,201
488 1,730 286%
Avg. Kids in Campaigners 529 484
479 756 58%
Number of Ministries 40 51
59 61 3%
National Staff 13 14
16 15 -6%
DGL 7 7 9 11 10 -9%
Kids & Leaders to Camp 767 222* 25 937 1,492 59%

*Malawi had a camping sabbatical in 2019

Our ministries

We continue to invest in kids and leaders, putting more emphasis on the leadership trees and trying to grow deeper in every aspect of ministry. We want to make sure we don’t just grow wide but deep, and thus we are being very intentional. It’s a work in progress and we are finding that as we go wider, it’s harder to make sure we are all on the same page with going deeper. But we believe we are on the right track!

Current ministry.

We have many Campaigners camps across the country. It’s refreshing to watch the Lord at work and to see the growth in kids since outreach camp. It’s also refreshing to see the senior Campaigners who gave their lives to Christ in previous camps serving at this camp on work crew and some from a few camps ago leading or co-leading cabins!

Current ministry.

In neighborhoods, these soccer camps have been a huge hit. Kids in most neighborhoods don’t have much to do. They go to school (if at all) then just roam around in the hood, so most kids resort to drinking and promiscuous behavior. Sports ministry is really keeping them busy and out of trouble. So far, we have soccer, netball and basketball going on and the kids absolutely love it.

Another exciting ministry is street kids’ ministry. Some of the kids from the street come to Young Life camp every year. There is nothing like the look on these kids’ faces when they get to the camp, are served, get their plates cleared and beds made for them. It is incredible how much service speaks of the love of Jesus to them and how the gospel can be preached in the seemingly ‘little’ things.

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