In the past when we would visit rural places, we used to give out clothes and money (mainly saved up from salaries) to poor people. With time we realised that this was not sustainable. I will never forget one time, in a village in Mozambique, when we visited a church whose pastor not only had no shoes but didn’t own a Bible! But even if he had one, we wondered, would he be able to read?
It was in Mnukwa village of Zambia’s Eastern Province when we decided that, alongside evangelism works we ought to establish literacy and skills training programmes. The last time I visited this village we were encouraged by some testimonies of visions and dreams given by some believers.
Going back to Lusaka I drove for over 7 hours. This was so tiring especially after a stressful itinerary of preaching and praying for people and moving about to survey the land that our ministry had been offered by the Chief Council. We arrived late at night and only slept at 1 AM. At 6 AM I was already awake to report for work!
Upon arriving in the office I was feeling sick from the stress of the journey. I tried to work but failed. However, it wasn’t the physical stress alone that exhausted my mind. The various demands of the mission journey had wiped out my salary which had transacted to my account some two days earlier! [Mission work can be so demanding. It’s a sacrfice, but I am so deeply thankful to God for a team of brothers (and their spouses) who have been so passionate about God’s work. Most of these friends are old childhood friends who have been aquintances since High School and we have seen each other grow, start work, get married and raise families. Many times we have put monies together to help the needy in the fellowship, especially school going children who cannot afford tution fees and elderly folk who are too poor to sustain themselves. Looking at how God has always been faithful to meet our needs, we have learned to take steps of faith even in seemingly impossible situations. The results have been so rewarding that there is a perception that our local assembly is funded by Whites, as is common with many faith-based organisations and NGOs! Sadly, many Africans have yet to see what selfless committment to God’s work can do in their countries.Where there is a will to do what is right to the glory of God, I have seen the Lord always making a way. I have often thought about Dr David Livingstone; he left the comfort of Scotland coming to an uncivilsied foreign land. We are determined to carry on where such gallant missionaries left off!).
“Dont worry…Something will happen very soon”
That day in the office, sitting before my computer , I could not concentrate on work. I thought about the school fees of my two sons and also the various other personal expenses. Wearily I bowed down my head and prayed, “Lord, you have always supplied my needs…right now I feel stressed and don’t know what to do…” In a moment, before I even finished praying, as cleary as a voice of a person speaking, deep within my heart came assuring words, “Dont worry…Something will happen very soon. ” It was a strange experience which was followed by deep peace and rest in the heart. I could not explain the emotion. “This is unusal” I thought to myself. I looked at the time display on the computer screen and it was almost lunch time. I decided to go and sleep at home.
After two hours I received a text message. It was from Sister Bree in USA. I have known her to be spiritual and led of the Lord. Her text read, “The Lord has provided me a financial blessing“. She asked for bank details and stated : “The funds are not tithes…use them at your discretion for yourself and your wife…Wherever you have a need.” She went further to explain what had happend when she was at the Post Office: “here is the strange part: I was in line at the post office , and as I was waiting , I saw the glory of the Lord come down…I wondered about WHY that would happen in that place…” She transacted an amount that is three times my salary!
I read through the text and in tears I glorified God who supplies all our needs accoridng to His riches in glory (Phi.4:19). This experience reassured me that if God has called you to His work, He takes care of it!
“Now we can build!”
Days and weeks passed and one thought kept digging on my mind: how would we build a church and a school? I didnt want to use the sub-standard materials and structures of village quality. I dont believe an area can be developed like that. However, God was about to do something again that would show us that He was in control.
On 11th June, brother Akpan Blessing Nice of Nigeria (a missionary associate), texted asking me to find time to phone him. I phoned immediately and he had important news for me. His explanation as I can recall went something like this: “Have you heard about an interlocking block machine that was invented in Kenya?… I bought one and its amazing! It uses ordinary soil and you only have to mix a little cement. It makes firm blocks through compression. The blocks are interlocking and so you dont need mortar to bind them when building. You will be able to build structures quickly…its already causing an atttaction here, people aregetting surprised at how we are able to complete structures in a matter of weeks! You must get the machine!…”
Brother Nice told me to search for “Makiga Engineering” on YouTube to see the kind of structures we could build with the blocks. I quickly did that and there the videos came up! I asked myself, “Where was I not to know about this equipment!” It would cut our construction costs by as much as 60%!
I inquired on the price of the machine in Kenya and it was time for trouble again. My local assembly in Lusaka is still engaged with a church-building project and I could not bring up a suggestion of another project. We needed about US$1000 to buy the machine and $600 for freight costs. That would be too expensive for us. However, this time I did not give place to doubt. I knew that if it would please the Lord for us to have the machine, He would provide a way.
I prayed, “Lord, we need to build a church and a school in that village and this machine is one cost-effective solution that would enable us quickly raise strong and good structures. May it be one day that different believers from Malawi, Zimbabwe, and various places in my country will gather for meetings in that village…”
That day I spent time doing much research on the Internet about the technology. I decided to call a close friend who is into construction to find out if he knew about the machine and where I could get it from. “The Technology Develooment and Advisory Unit of the University of Zambia sells those machines! The unit has sponsorship from ILO and we were trained in using the machines. Remember that beautiful model house I showed you at our work place?” he reminded me; “We constructed it using the same blocks.” Wow, that was too much for me to hear! “How much are they here in Zambia?” I quickly asked. He mentioned the same price I got from Kenya but with the advantage of no freight cost in Zambia!
That night I tossed and turned on my bed, failing to sleep as I kept thinking about the machine and how nice it would be to start the construction works on the mission field. The following day I could not contain the burden within myself. I decided to share the information with brother Richard Gan of Singapore. This was troubling as I have once sat in a meeting in Singapore during which various helps to be sent to various places overseas were being discussed. Thoughts reeled through my mind thinking, “If he would be able to assist with 50% of the cost, then I can save for some two or three months from my salary or perhaps borrow money to meet the balance.” I thought about the testimony-money I had received from Sister Bree, and wished I had known about the machine then!
The more information I gathered about the interlocking-block making machine the bigger the burden grew in my heart. Well, I could no longer contain it. I went to my PC and began to type a mail to Brother Gan: “Sorry but I am here to cause you trouble…” I explained about the urgent need of the machine for the mission work.
Within a minute brother Gan responded: “Alright. Will send the one thousand.” And that was it! He quickly transacted the money and sent the details. I could not hold the burst of joy, like a little boy I screamed as I jumped up in praising the Lord in the bedroom. I called out to Norah and we immediately had a noisy praise and worship time. I phoned my mission team telling them the great news and that we would now soon constuct the church and the school.
As at this moment the machine has been paid for and we are soon to collect it. Last month we were in fasting praying about our next mission itinerary in August. This time around we wont just minister but will start the construction works. TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!