These two children in the video are practicing their English. The children here are taught Kirundi as their first language, Swahili as their second, and French as their third language. Now we are teaching them English.
Just as the notebook had been hidden from my awareness, many other things occurred that made our timing to meet Martin perfect. Tony, Kelvin and my wife and I were almost in disbelief of what had happened at the large church, especially since this was likely our last weekend before returning to America. Heidi wanted to do something special. Our kitchen was not completed yet, but she wanted to prepare a meal for Tony and Kelvin, so we went to the ShopRite store and Heidi picked out some ingredients for the meal. We also invited Thomas to join us that evening. He is the man from India that we had talked to in the early morning. On the way back to Sunnyside, where the new mission house is located, we stopped at a local restaurant to grab some things to go.
The time was approximately 1:30 PM Sunday afternoon. The three of us returned to the van as we waited for Tony to get his cappuccino. We had been to this restaurant many times, and expediency was not one of their strong suits, but for whatever reason, getting that cappuccino took a seemingly extended amount of time on this day. Just before Tony returned to the vehicle, a joyful looking family passed by in front of us. There was acknowledgment of one another and smiles exchanged. The vehicle they were traveling in was parked right next to us. Once the man had gotten the family in the vehicle, he came up to the window where I was sitting and introduced himself. Within just a few moments of meeting him it became quite obvious that the light of Jesus was shining brightly within him.
His name was Martin and he was interested in the van. This is Rhoda’s van that is 17 years old, has nearly 160,000 km on it, and bears the battle scars of countless fender benders scattered all around the vehicle. He looked at it and stated, “This would be perfect for what we need.” This is quite interesting in itself because this has been our primary transportation for the past month. God has provided the provision for a new van that Echo uses to transport the pastors. Heidi and I have ridden in it only a few times. We felt that using the old beat up taxi van would allow us to blend into society and be better suited for our mission. This choice has led to many interesting observations and interactions with the people of Malawi. Remember now this is the miracle van that somehow got Kelvin home one night after the steering linkage became disconnected on one side of the vehicle. We actually nicknamed the van Gabe. Short for Gabriel, for Kelvin prayed that God would bring him home safely on the wings of Angels.
After just speaking with each other for a few minutes, we invited them to follow us to our new mission house. Martin is an energetic, high-spirited man. He introduced us to his wife Angela and their three beautiful children. I believe their ages were 2 to 9. His one son’s name is Samson, and he has not cut his hair. The hand of God was mightily in this chance meeting. Within the first half hour of talking with them, Heidi suggested that we all pray together. We went into the backyard and kneeled down and praised The Creator for our interaction. God had ordained something incredible and we could all sense the power of His presence.
Martin and his family have been faithful servants to the point of selling everything and heeding God’s call wherever it may lead. He was a very successful salesman for a coffee bean distribution company. There are some amazing coincidences about this. The Lord placed on his heart and mine for sustainability in the projects we are involved with. Ironically, getting good coffee in Blantyre is very difficult. There is only one place that remotely could be considered satisfactory in their endeavor.
I am pretty sure that “Creator’s Coffee” will become the name of our first coffee business. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the interactions we will most likely have with Martin and his family. The testimony that Martin has of his life is nothing short of miraculous. Only the power and might of Jesus could redeem such a troubled soul. I believe we are alike in a major component in our fleshly tendencies. Pride and ego had been major stumbling blocks in both of our lives. Praise Jesus we were able to be broken by His love.
There are so many details about the story of this family that should be in a video. In the near future I pray that God will make a way for this to happen. To properly describe all the other things we talked about in Martin’s story would take numerous pages. I will just say this- he was born in Badag, Iraq In 1986. In 1991, he and his family fled the country to avoid the Gulf War. For three years, they traveled on boats, planes, walking, and cars, eventually ending up in Australia. Martin was a tennis prodigy that was quite skilled. When he was 15, he was introduced to the club life and his life began to spiral out of control. He became a bodybuilder and a paid thug that would extort money from people when they did not pay back the loan shark.
There are so many layers to this life, that it is like peeling back an onion to discover what lies within. When he was 22 and met his wife-to-be, Angela, things began to change. Martin had discovered the true meaning of Jesus Christ living within somebody. The overwhelming love that he experienced from Angela and her family began to help Martin see the light. I am not sure what God is up to, but something miraculous is being prepared. The fellowship time and Holy Spirit-guided Bible review has been fantastic. I have never experienced such deep cross-referencing through so many parts of the Bible, which I will later write about. Here are some of the main characteristics about their group…
All of them are all-in for Jesus. They are surrendered, obedient, sanctified, humble, and God-fearing individuals. There are no egos competing to see who can come up with the best explanation or grandest prayer. No one dominates the conversation. I have been guilty of this many times myself. This kind of dominating personality makes it impossible for the body of Christ to operate the way it is supposed to function. Contemplation and silence in a group of ten people may seem uncomfortable, but it seems that everyone has learned how to hold back their flesh and wait for The Spirit to prompt them. By doing so, profound insight is gained. Many times, Kelvin would say I have a little spice to add, but usually it would be a full course of spiritual meat. I marveled at the wisdom that was coming from such young men. From the very first time that Martin joined our fellowship time, he was simulated into the body of Christ instantaneously. This is an undeniable sign that he is a born again brother. He adds a certain degree of energy and vigor that will blend nicely with the rest of us.
The orphanage that we have adopted was in very, very, poor shape. We thank the Lord that we have had the opportunity to help. Without even asking, Martin joined the crew and began to assist in the painting project right away. Martin and his family have spent several years in the poorest country in the world. People of Burundi have really needed training skill sets. Martin was able to orchestrate a training program for computer skills, welding, soap making, and sewing, just to name a few. They have several buildings that are already constructed and paid for. They have several thousand people go through their program a month, at an unbelievable cost of $1,400. I know that Martin will be a great asset to make us more efficient throughout the Echo organization.
On his own, he contacted the donors in Australia, and told them about Echo. He asked if Echo could take the facility over as another branch of Echo Africa, not that they were looking for funds or assistance in any way. Martin just felt deeply moved in his spirit that Echo Africa was blessed by God, and we were just beginning a fantastic journey. I must admit, I am totally overwhelmed and amazed by God’s timing, planning, and expediency of so many things. If it were possible, I would have every sincere believer in Jesus accompany us on this journey. I think it is equally as important to have every non-believer along with us on this journey. Everything that I have described and talked about is not embellished in the least. I only live to share God’s glory with others.