Headlines across sub-Saharan Africa are celebrating the election of Malawi’s sixth president. A quiet opposition leader who came onto the political scene less than a decade ago, President-elect Chakwera is no stranger to Haggai International.

Dr. Lazarus Chakwera was born in Nyasaland (presently Malawi) in 1955. His parents were subsistence farmers and had already lost two infants before his birth. Believing that God had plans for this third child to live, his father named him “Lazarus.”

His parents were right in their assumptions that God would work in the life of their son. By the time he was a teen, Nyasaland had become Malawi, a republic independent of the British commonwealth. And just as Malawi gained its footing as an independent nation, young Lazarus was pursued a career in the ministry.

In 1986 he attended the Haggai Leader Experience, where those in his cohort group described him as a “quiet, composed, and rather jovial person who had given all of himself to Christ.”

Dr. Lazarus Chakwera (back row, second from right) attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 1986.

Shortly after returning from the HLE, Lazarus received the first of three degrees in theology. He became a respected professor in theology and then the president of the Assemblies of God, Malawi’s largest Christian denomination. His ministry flourished, but about a decade into his tenure leading the denomination, Dr. Chakwera felt a new call. 

“God spoke to my heart….He said, ‘I am not pulling you out of ministry. Instead I am extending your ministry. I want you to get into politics.”

In 2013, Dr. Chakwera ran for office and became leader of the Malawi Congress Party

Initially taken aback by this new call, he was then reminded of God’s use of Israel to carry out His plans in the context of a nation. So, in 2013, Dr. Chakwera ran for office and became leader of the Malawi Congress Party. He spent the next six years serving in congress until he ran for president in 2019.

The 2019 election was initially won by incumbent President Peter Mutharika, but controversy followed when irregularities were discovered in the election process. Almost five months after that election, the constitutional court annulled the results. The election was held again one year later, and on June 23, 2020 Dr. Chakwera was elected as Malawi’s sixth president.

Reflecting upon how his Haggai training influences his policies, he says “Malawi will now have a government that will serve its people, not one that rules.”

Read more about Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s efforts to confront corruption and coronavirus at Christianity Today.