Travel seems to be what characterizes at least one significant part of my life! I guess in most cases that is what defines a missionary…leaving home and going somewhere in obedience to Someone important who said, “Go!”
The purpose of the trip is the story of one’s life I guess and I have become very aware of how every trip I make is so integrally tied to all the other trips I and Lynn have made. And these go back a very long way.
The stories of this past week could likely fill a book, but I will share them over the weeks to come as they relate to the journey we are on out here. This last road trip I was accompanied by Pastor Pires Alberto Williamo (don’t let the name throw you!). He was selected by his peers to be the supervisor of zone 3 which is the area (of our extension schools) I was visiting this past week. His home village is Sinjal (on the banks of the Zambezi River). This is the village we have selected to establish a remote base for the mission because it would facilitate much training close to home for many of the monitors (pastor trainers) who we train.
But besides location, the real reason we have selected Sinjal is Pastor Pires and his proven faithful track record. Someone once referred to something called the “speed of trust” which can be illustrated by how easy it is to drive fast on a two-lane paved highway in good weather conditions, compared to the speed one feels comfortable driving on a pot-hole infested road where every turn you are faced with sharp-edged crevices that threaten to destroy your car or send you careening off the road to miss them.
Let me digress…On my way back this time I came around a corner only to have a big truck bearing down on me on MY side of the road. I had just reminded Pastor Pires to put his seat-belt on, so as I jammed on the breaks and swerved partly into the ditch to miss the truck, he was thankfully held tightly in his seat. Another pastor who was with us said I was a prophet because I knew the truck would be coming and that is why I made sure Pastor Pires put on his belt. I assured him that this was not the case J.
Getting back to the speed of trust…when one builds a relationship of trust with someone as a result of mutually faithful experience, the wheels become greased for a faster pace and effectiveness of work. And this is what we are seeing in the life of this amazing (“little” in the physical sense) man. Let me just add that this faithful pastor serves without a salary and finances himself from a little shop (Banca) he and his wife run along with a small hand powered carpentry business which operates out of grass covered shelter. He had a great opportunity to work for the government and has many family members in key government positions, but he had God’s call on his life, and simply turned them down and keeps turning them down to ensure he has enough time to fulfill “the call”.
This past year was a very hungry year and as some of you may have read from earlier blogs, there were many areas on the Zambezi that simply got NO rain. Not only so, due to that the people planted in the low areas by the river only to have the river come down in flood when the big hydro dam up-stream opened its gates due to heavy rain fall further up in the catchment area. We were able to respond to 16 of our pastors groups who formed associations to enable them to get some emergency food. The condition was that they would work together to “earn” this food so as to try and improve things in their community through various projects. In Pastor Pires home village 60 men and women who are studying with us formed an association and have done amazing things. They were helped with the food aid, but are now working together to “pay” for it. They worked with local government to get a piece of land they could fence and that would have the ability to irrigate from the river. They dug three wells along the one boundary of the land and by hand fenced the entire two hectares! This “fencing” material is not available in their immediate area, so they had to trek into the mountain area, cut the wood, and carry it by hand. Besides that they had to cut thorn bush which they then stacked around the bottom part of the outside of the fence to keep goats out and it works!
They have already planted a variety of crops and are now working to make bricks so that a food storage shed can be built in the years to come to try and keep enough food stocks in the community. It is hard to fully visualize the beauty that can come from people who are willing to faithfully work together for a better future. And the only likely incentive to keep serving together faithfully on this difficult journey is Christ-modeled, Christ-empowered servant-hood.
As mentioned there are many stories to come, but I simply cannot end this blog without talking about the 3 new graduates of our program that graduated in Nyangoma after a full 7 years of study. Pastor Thomas Inacio who was selected to speak on behalf of the graduates shared how he and his colleagues struggled to imagine how they could ever get through this kind of a program since they were already advanced in years. Pastor Ricardo had shared with them the story of Simeon and how that he had the promise that he would hold the messiah before he died, and challenged them that if they could believe, they would hold a diploma one day. Pastor Inacio said that did it. We decided to believe we could do it and now we have. And the blessing of the things we have studied and learned has helped us to now be able to really help and teach others truth.
I honestly could go on at length about all the encouraging words he shared, and the other two graduates shared. The reality is that their lives have been changed and empowered and they are making a significant contribution already to their churches and communities. These are the kinds of moments that make the journey so rewarding!