Evangelist Franklin Graham has lauded the election of former pastor and Assemblies of God President Lazarus Chakwera as the new president of the Subsaharan African nation of Malawi.
Writing on Facebook Sunday, Graham congratulated the new president, saying that he did a great job chairing a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association outreach in 2010 called My Hope Malawi.
"President Chakwera said, 'My victory is a win for democracy and justice.' Will you join me in praying that God will bless, direct, and protect this man as he leads his country?" Graham asked.
The 65-year-old Malawian entered politics in 2013 without any previous experience and was the leader of the Malawi Congress Party, according to the BBC. His career in public service follows 24 years of leading the Assemblies of God denomination in the landlocked country in southeastern Africa. The Assemblies of God is one of the largest religious groups in that nation.
Chakwera won the presidential race, defeating incumbent President Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of the vote. He previously ran for president in 2014 and came in second.
From 1983 to 2000, Chakwera was an instructor at the Assemblies of God School of Theology. He became the school's principal in 1996.
According to Premier Christian News, Chakwera was named Lazarus after his two older brothers died while they were infants. Convinced he would live, Chakwera's father named him after the biblical character whom Jesus raised from the dead.
When he won the election on June 27 he tweeted: "Thank you, my Lord Jesus."
After being sworn in on Sunday, Chakwera promised to unite the African nation of approximately 18 million people and address government corruption.
"There's no cause for fear because I will be your president and my policy for inclusivity means we are building a new Malawi for all of us. I'm not a president of a faction, I'm a president of everyone in the country. I want to provide leadership that makes everybody prosper, that deals decisively with corruption and theft of public funds and a leadership that will follow the rule of law," Chakwera said in an interview with the BBC.
The new Malawian president added: "I do feel like Lazarus, I've come back from the dead, it's been a long journey and we feel vindicated in a way."
Malawi is sandwiched between Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia and was formerly known as Nyasaland, a British protectorate, and was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953-1963. Upon its dissolution, Nyasaland gained its independence from the British and was subsequently renamed Malawi.