I am so thankful that the Lord has surrounded me with people that share in the vision of EchoAfrica. We are able to go in many different directions simultaneously. Rhoda asked me this morning, “How do you keep so many things in your mind?” Then I realized my lifestyle had equipped me to multi-task. Utilizing those skills to the glory of God is so much more fulfilling than anything else I have pursued.
Pastor Joe and myself reviewed the documents for EchoAfrica registration. Then Tony, Rhoda, Joe, and myself gathered for a short board meeting. We needed to establish the minutes of the meeting as part of the execution of the paperwork for registration. I will be Chairman of the Board, Tony will be Executive Director, Joe will be Secretary-Treasurer, and Rhoda will be Outreach Director. We will ask Josh to be Youth Coordinator and Evangelists. Our wishes are to have Pastor Rick as the Lead Pastor and Director of all spiritual growth activities.
Rhoda; the Outreach Director, Marvelous and Bonface, the bus driver; were sent on a mission. They were going to try and locate shoes and blankets for the children, and bicycles for the pastors. We would reconvene around lunch time to visit the rental house again. We wanted to see it in daylight and take some pictures. Therefore, it would become much easier to formulate the best layout of activities in the structure.
This morning, we looked at the second vehicle. Tony already had two different individuals bring vehicles to the lodge for me to inspect. The one that we saw yesterday was kind of rough and I was not convinced of its reliability. The Ford Ranger pickup we looked at this morning was much better. All of the vehicles I have seen so far are right hand drive. The truck was no exception. This one was an automatic, which is fairly rare. Almost all of the vehicles I have seen were manuals. This Ranger was four-wheel-drive and diesel-powered. It had 71,000 km on it which translates to roughly 44,000 miles. I would say vehicle maintenance here is practically zero. Too many vehicles smoke like old coal-fired locomotives. Some of them emit so much smoke that it is like entering a fog bank when following the vehicle.
The banks are currently charging over 50% interest. The owner of the truck has been threatened with repossession of the vehicle and his home, so I am checking to see if it is a fair price, then we will proceed forward. It is impossible for us to have an effective ministry with the villagers here unless we can get to their locations. God is working out all these details so quickly. Once we get a home-based established, we can develop a game plan with the rest of the team when I return. Tony continues to be a blessing every time I talk to him.
When someone says, “I am a Christian” in Malawi, rarely does it mean “I have a personal relationship with Jesus.” There are many reasons for that. The prominent one is obvious, the lack of Bibles. Almost all of the 30 staff members at the Lodge do not have a Bible. We will be including them in the distribution process these next few days. From what I have experienced so far, when someone receives their Bible, it becomes a cherished possession, not just a book to sit and collect dust. When I say this, I point at myself also because for many years, I was guilty of the ignoring God’s word. When the Holy Spirit summons your full commitment, it will nearly be impossible to resist consuming the Word daily.
Tony, Rhoda, and Pastor Joe returned after successfully locating the necessary merchandise. They were able to identify shoe sizes from toddlers to teens and brought back three samples. We calculated the pricing and are planning on purchasing 520 pairs of shoes for USD $380 or 174,000 kwacha. That translates to $.73 a pair! It is unfortunate that the world does not rally together to provide shoes. It is personally embarrassing to realize how staggering the need is here and how many years I ignored it. The next thing on the list was blankets. For $700, we can purchase 200 blankets which is $3.50 each.
One of the hindering factors for pastors is transportation. Most rely on walking to get from place to place. A simple, single-speed bicycle would make a big difference. We are thankful to God for making a provision to purchase 21 bicycles. We will be distributing them this holiday weekend. My joy is building, as this will be a Christmas like I have never experienced before. We will be giving out roughly half of everything to Felix’s village. I have not even told him that I was still in Malawi until today.
We were planning on distributing many supplies to areas that Pastor Joe, Tony, and Rhoda were familiar with. But after I showed Rhoda pictures of Pastor Felix’s church, and the children, she said, “We must go there first.” You could see the love in her eyes as she looked at the pictures. This is just further proof of the character that she possesses. Rhoda introduced me to a store called Game. It was comparable to a Walmart/Home Depot combo. It was very nice and had a lot of items. We were able to purchase good quality soccer balls for $9.72 each.
In the late afternoon, we took another trip over to the potential rental house. It still needed a bit of fixing up, but in very minor ways. It just needed a little bit of paint here and there, and it would be quite nice. The great thing about the house is that it is walled in, and has a large steel entry gate. The interior was quite lavish compared to most places we had been. The house would make a great starting point and EchoAfrica could now have a permanent location. The ability to house several missionaries simultaneously would be easy, and we would add some bunk beds and split up the bathrooms, in order to have youth ministry trips. If you would have asked me if all of these things could have been possible because I got bumped from a flight, I would have answered, “not a chance.”
Here is one of the greatest things: God has made a way for us to purchase 5,000 Bibles at $6.11 each in the native language. I am elated and overwhelmed to be a part of this experience. Thursday morning, there will be a women’s conference and I will be speaking. The EchoAfrica team will be handing out 200 Bibles. I would love to see Christians in America rally together and help EchoAfrica distribute 1 million bibles. That sounds impossible and crazy, but God has already worked in so many ways. These people have open arms and hearts to know the Lord. Let us join together and make it happen!