In just under two weeks, we will be back in the states, Lord willing. The need here is so great that we have not begun to scratch the surface. Just pick any road and walk or drive down it, and the need becomes quite obvious. The amazing thing is that most all of the people will smile and interact with you, all the while existing in severe poverty. In the United States, depression and suicide are on an alarming increase. The reality is that selfishness probably plays a major role in this. Countless times, we handed out little candies to children and adults. Most of the time, they would share with someone close-by. I have never seen anyone demonstrate selflessness to the degree that Tony does. The unbelievable thing about him is that he accomplishes this as a natural state of being. I do not believe he consciously thinks about it, he just does it. What a marvelous gift to have. He demonstrates what Jesus told us to do, put others before ourselves.
Our staff at Echo Africa (Malawi) has grown to ten members. My mode for efficiency has detected many areas that could be improved. I have realized that I have not been involved in leadership as I should be.We did not pray in the mornings, or have discipleship with each other. We learned that many people were actually not doing things for several hours a day. Rules for reporting to the facility promptly in the morning were not put into place. I asked God if I should address these issues or not. I was reminded immediately what the Bible says. Colossians 3;23-24 NKJV: Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive a reward of the inheritance; you serve the Lord Christ. There are many other Bible verses that talk about diligence in our work. Following their culture, I believe that a lot of the practices I observe are acceptable. Having two or three people do a job that one person could do seems common.
Knowing that this is God’s project, and I am blessed with the opportunity to participate, I was careful how I proceeded. During this discovery process, I talked to Tony about different issues and he agreed there were several areas that could be improved. He is such a hard-working tenderhearted person, that he would always take up the slack. I asked him about making his mother Rhoda his assistant. Someone was needed on the premises that could be in charge of daily activities. As the duties of executive director continue to increase, Tony needs assistance. He agreed that he thought his mother would be well-suited for the position. We talked with Rhoda and she agreed. After meeting with Tony, Rhoda, and Jared, we met with everyone else.
Jared is a very thoughtful, patient man that will be heading up Echo Africa (Kenya.) God identified the right person, because we have already gone through much turmoil in Kenya. The fact that he will be establishing a team there, it made perfect sense to have him involved in whatever changes we were pursuing here in Malawi. What we have experienced so far in Kenya is quite troubling. One of the groups that we met with has already been in conflict because of the Bibles we distributed. We are still searching for the truth and seeking God in this matter. The report that we received was that someone wanted to sell half of the Bibles! At first they received 400 Bibles. One of Jared’s first responsibilities is to discern truth in this situation. As much as possible, we need to keep Jared in prayer for the challenges that await him.
Back to the meeting with everyone else concerning changes. I used Scripture to support many aspects of our conversation. There was really no resistance to the fact that we want to be able to serve Jesus better. The reality was that we would have additional time to help in orphanages, visit people in the hospital, and reach out to the community to do different events. We still have not needed to eliminate staff, because we just want to be more effective servants for the Kingdom. Timeliness is a part of efficiency, so we discussed the importance of reporting on time. I am not sure that everyone received that, but Rhoda would basically be in charge as Tony’s right-hand person. The following day, we were going to start our 8 am prayer and fellowship time.
Three quarters of the people were on time. The ones that were not here on time were asked why. I find it much more useful to be direct, but kind, and I could see that we would need to do this for a while. We continued our discussions about being more productive with our time, so God would give us more opportunities to do Kingdom work. Little did we know that these opportunities would come so quickly.
This was the last day that Jared would be with us before heading back to Kenya. Tony and Rhoda decided to take Jared to some local orphanages. Jared has a real heart for children and orphans. They were supposed to be back to the house by 1 o’clock so that we could take Jared to the airport. We were at the house a few minutes before one, but they were not here. Just a few hours earlier in our meeting, I had stressed the importance of being timely. I felt a little disappointed that they were not back on time. Since then, God has reminded me of something very important. Luke 10;41-42, NKJV: Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her.
Now it is evident to me that my name could be in place of Martha’s and Tony’s name in place of Mary’s name. You see Tony was attending to the important things. Even though they were nearly a half an hour late, God was using their situation to open up an opportunity for us. The very next morning in our prayer and fellowship time, we understood why this had taken place. God was giving us the opportunity to see if we were going to be good and faithful servants. Would we really be more diligent in our efforts so that we could help in greater ways in service of the Kingdom?