A few years ago it became clear to us that our time managing the center in Nampula would be coming to a close and we began praying to see where God would lead us next. After looking at returning to the USA or working in a different region of the world, we felt that God really wanted us to continue serving ministries in southern Africa – doing the support work we had been doing. Our focus up until then had been supporting Wycliffe ministries, while helping other organizations along the way. We really enjoyed being able to help the many organizations working in Mozambique.
There were many obstacles we could see to continuing working in this type of ministry here.
- With the sale of the center we would have no base with a workshop where people could come to have work done on vehicles and things like that.
- Most of the help people need is on location, like home repairs, audio recordings. Even vehicle issues usually happen closer to home.
- God is leading us to serve as a family. These types of projects can take weeks and we don’t want Jon to be away from the family constantly. It is not always possible for people who may need our help to accept a family of five into their home for a few weeks to get a project done. Living in other peoples houses is also not conducive to homeschooling the boys.
- The biggest, and certainly the heaviest, obstacle is the tools and equipment we need for doing vehicle and home repairs, construction & media recordings. Having the tool to get the job done is important, but it is the other things that come up along the way that can be frustrating. You can’t bring everything with you and if you go somewhere to do a recording and the person has a vehicle issue it is sad to say we could fix this, but that tool is in Nampula.
This last issue is a big one. As I sit here writing this, we are 500Km (310 miles) from home. We came here to visit friends and work on motorcycles and a few vehicle issues. I brought my basic mechanics tools with us; which is already more weight than one person should try to move. The majority of my tools stayed at home. In the five days we have been here we have fixed the things we came to fix, but the family has a significant problem with their solar electrical system. If I had a DC Amp meter, I could easily find the problem. I have one, at home. Then their fridge began acting up. I have the tools and supplies to fix it, at home. Two issues that are taking time and energy away from ministry for this family could be fixed if I had been able to bring all of my equipment and tools. Now the fridge will need to wait until he can haul it into the nearest city to get repaired taking time from what he should be doing and we will have to make some guesses on the solar system and hope we get good results. Frustrating.
One afternoon, last year, while we were praying about these issues, Marijane realized the solution, although at the time it seemed absolutely crazy. After this time of prayer she said, “How about we buy one of those big 4×4 motorhome vehicles that could carry all of your tools and equipment. We could travel to where people are living and help in any way we can and then move on to the next place. Then we would have a place to sleep, cook and eat and wouldn’t have to rely on the family we are going to help.”
After more prayer and much counsel from our leadership we began to realize that this idea could really be an incredible ministry for those serving in our region. We then began to talk to leaders of other organizations to see if they saw this type of ministry as a need for their members. The response we received was similar in every case, “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?” and “When do you start?”
In June of this year our family traveled to South Africa to look at options for buying or building a vehicle like this. I had found a company there that built them and wanted to visit it to see what it was like. We also saw a couple vehicles for sale that we wanted to look at them to see if they might fit the need and also to get ideas. Before we got to the factory that builds the vehicles, God led us to a Christian man who owns a company that also builds them that I had not heard of. It didn’t take long talking with him to realize he would be a really good person to work with. Leaving his shop I looked into the backseat of the car and asked the boys if they had realized what had just happened. “We met this man by chance, who turns out to be a Christian and builds the type of vehicles we have been praying about.” How cool is that!
We did go to the other factory as well, but I wasn’t really impressed. They made really nice furniture and the motorhomes were a sort of side business. I didn’t think they would be as good to work with. We also looked at another vehicle that was for sale, but it would have needed to be completely rebuilt due to an excessive amount of rust.
Our last stop on the trip was the MAN truck dealership in Johannesburg to look at trucks that we might be able to build a motorhome on the back of. While talking with the dealer he mentioned a client of his that might be interested in selling a vehicle that he had built. The dealer drove us across town to the office of the owner of the vehicle so we could talk to him. The vehicle was in Namibia at the moment, but he had loads of pictures to show us including many from the adventures he and his wife had taken in it. The boys were excited to see photos of places they recognized in Mozambique. This was obviously emotional for the owner and he really enjoyed the boys.
Since then we have been able to travel to Namibia with Marijane’s parents to see the vehicle and we believe this is the vehicle God has in mind for us. The total cost of this vehicle is half of what it would cost to build something similar and it is fully equipped with solar electrical and everything else we would need. The only thing that would need to be changed is the living quarters were set up for two travelers, not a family of five, so we have a plan to put in some bunk beds. The first builder we talked to is advising us and ready to do the work when the time comes.
The prospect of this new ministry and the cost of the vehicle seem completely beyond us, but God has confirmed again and again that this is where He wants us and the needs are huge. He has put this ministry in our hearts and we know he will provide for the finances and other details to make it a reality.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the ministry or the vehicle itself. If you would like to make Samson a reality by making a gift towards the purchase of the vehicle please visit our page at Shepherd’s Staff and click to donate to our Vehicle account. Thank You!