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Helping a Stranger Opens a Door: A Church Plant Story

Published Date: April 2, 2020

On December 31, 2019, at around 16:00 hours, I was waiting by Total Filling Station along Mumbwa road for Brian Mumbi, a welder friend of mine who had asked for a ride home. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a young man in his 30s knocked on the window of the vehicle I was driving. As I looked through the glass window, I noticed that the man was weeping and shivering as though he was soaked in frozen water. My first reaction was to ignore him knowing very well how Lusaka call boys liked tricking unsuspecting motorists in similar acts, but surprisingly this one kept on knocking on the car window attracting my instincts to give him an ear. After a second thought I opened the window to just hear what the man wanted to tell me. The man begun his story by thanking me for opening the window of the car in Chitonga language and introduced himself as Kelvin Maimbo. Kelvin said, “I had hired a truck from his Senzo village in chief Shakumbila’s chiefdom to bring 20 pigs to sell in Lusaka. When I got to Chibolya where livestock trading is conducted from, I found some men with an empty truck who expressed interested in buying all my 20 pigs.” He continued, “So with the help of his potential customers, who had assured me that their office and butchery was just on the other side from where I met them, we quickly transferred my 20 pigs into their truck,” he sobbed.

“After loading the pigs, my customers told me to travel with them to their office and butchery so that they could pay me. After moving a short distance in the middle of a very narrow road the truck stopped and one of the potential buyers pulled out a knife and pointed at me and told me, ‘If you want to live, jump out of our truck, but if you want to die remain in the truck.’ In a split of a second I jumped out of the truck for my life and the potential customers drove off with my 20 pigs,” he cried.

As Kelvin narrated the story, he cried uncontrollably, shivering like someone who has been really soaked in heavy rains and punctuated his cry with, “my 20 pigs sure, my 20 pigs sure…” I asked him if he had reported the matter to the police, and he responded that the police ignored him and told him that they could not help him as that was the last day of the year and were overwhelmed with many such stories of people being robbed. I asked Kelvin how I could help him. Without hesitation, he responded, “I just need K80 (US$5.30) to pay for transport to my village. I hate being in Lusaka, I just want to get back to my village now.”

As I listened to Kelvin narrating his story of how he was robbed of his 20 pigs, I felt within me that the reason for my contact with Kelvin was that we should plant a church in his village. With that conviction, I asked Kelvin the details of his village and how to get there. Kelvin gave me the following details: He was a son of Mr. Kennedy Mweema from Senzo Village of headman Mulyango in Chief Shakumbila, Mumbwa District. To get to his village coming from Lusaka was a left turn at the Mumbwa Toll Gate and you move 12 km from there. The directions to Senzo village were very clear, and I felt excited within me about this open door to plant a church in Kelvin’s village. I had resolved to help Kelvin with the money for transport to get back to his village, and I waited for Brian to come so that he could also hear the story and see if he too could contribute to help Kelvin pay for his transport home.

When Brian arrived and saw Kelvin still weeping and shivering, he expressed shock and asked what happened to him. I asked Kelvin to narrate his story again, and Brian was so touched just as I was touched. I further told Brian that Kelvin needed K80 to pay for his transport back to his village. I asked Brian how much he would contribute towards Kelvin’s transport to home, to which he responded that he could only manage to make a contribution of K20. I contributed K60 and Kelvin was very thankful for the help Brian and I gave him to assist him get home that evening. Before we left Kelvin, who now was visibly happy and thankful that he would get to his home that evening, I told him that if what he told us was the truth, he should ask someone from his village who had a cell phone to call me when he gets home. Kelvin happily walked away towards the place he could catch a bus to his village on Mumbwa road.

That very evening, I attended a cross over into a New Year service at Pilgrim Wesleyan Church–Kanyama Congregation—and I shared Kelvin’s story and asked the church to pray that we plant a church in Senzo village in 2020. At 23:30 hours, my phone rang and it was Kelvin confirming that he had used someone’s phone to let me know that he had reached his village safely. We praised God as a church for Kelvin’s safe trip. From that time on, I never heard from Kelvin. At our March 8, 2020 local church board meeting, it was resolved that some of the members would accompany me to visit Kelvin and his family to begin discussing that Kanyama Church plant a church in Senzo village on March 14, 2020. We were all very excited about the possibility of planting a church in Senzo village. On March 14, five leaders from Kanyama PWC travelled with me to Senzo village to meet with Kelvin and his family to have initial discussion of planting a church using the details he gave me on December 31, 2019. The Kanyama leaders that travelled with me were Deacon Rex Lisimba (Treasurer), deacon Chali Nyeleti (Board of Trustee Chair), David Ng’andu (Youth Leader), Mrs. Vera Phiri Chiyowela (Evangelism Director), and Precious Lweendo (Children’s Ministry Director). We reached the Mumbwa Toll gate after an hour and a half drive.

At the Mumbwa Toll Gate area market place, we asked some people how to get to Senzo village, and we were told there was no road to Senzo village from there, but we needed to drive 30 minutes back toward Lusaka to Nangoma where the road to Senzo was. Still in very high spirit we made a turn back to Nangoma. When we got to Nangoma, we were directed to the road to Senzo Village. After driving for 30 minutes, we got to the business centre and stopped to ask how to get to Senzo village. Derrick Mulela responded to our inquiry that the place where we were was Senzo. He went on to say that Senzo was not a village but a business centre which was in Chooba village.

We asked about Kelvin Maimbo and his father Mr. Mweema. Derrick, who was then joined by two friends, Alick Mutwe and Friday, responded that they did not know the two people we ask about. Consequently, we realized that Kelvin had not given us correct information. When we asked about headman Mulyango, the response was that there was no such a village in chief Shakumbila. Then, Derrick, who obviously was more curious, asked us to tell him and his friends about our mission in looking for Kelvin and his father. I immediately outlined our mission as: to explore the possibility of planting a church in Senzo village after meeting Kelvin in Lusaka. Immediately Derrick, with the support of his friends, responded: “If you have come to plant a church, forget about Kelvin because we are here, and we want a church to be planted in our village. Please park your car and we will gather people under the trees so that you tell them your mission.” That positive response surprised us, as we did not expect it. We parked our car and within 10 minutes, there were 35 adults who temporarily abandoned their business of selling at the market. Among them were others who were drinking beer in the nearby shabeens and came with their bottles of beer. Notably among those that came to hear our message of hope of planting a church in their village were three children. Now, due to excitement about people’s quick positive response, I did not even remember to pick up my Bible from the vehicle, so I just quoted John 3:16 and shared for 10 minutes with the group that God’s love for them was the reason for our visit and our desire to plant the church in their village with plan to plant in the neighbouring villages. My 10 minutes sermon was well received, and people responded that they wanted us to plant the church right away. We were all touched by the positive response of the people who met us for the first time and did not know where we were coming from. My concluding point was that we needed to see headman Chooba to get his permission for us to plant a church in his village. The headman for the next village to Chooba village, who was one of the 35 who attended our ten minute meeting, said we were welcome to plant a church in his village if headman Chooba would not allow us to plant a church in his village.

Derrick, Alick, and Friday accompanied us to see headman Chooba. The way to headman Chooba is very challenging, but we thank God for a good vehicle that handled the rough terrain. We were warmly welcomed by headman Chooba was relaxing in his “lazy boy” chair. After we shared with him our mission, he said, he was very happy about our mission and that he would tell his leadership team about it and that he would get back as soon as possible. We drove back to Senzo centre to drop off our three new friends who escorted us to headman Chooba. After leaving Senzo centre, we met Mr. Shambosha. After greeting him, I told him about our mission, and he told us that he was very happy about our mission that we were welcome to plant a church in chief Shakumbila’s chiefdom. When I asked who he was, he responded that he was the principle adviser to Chief Shakumbila. Wow! We had no idea that God had led us not only to the village of headman Chooba, but also connected us to Chief Shakumbila through his principle advisor. The team returned to Lusaka rejoicing at the doors God opened for our church plant mission in Chief Shakumbila’s chiefdom.

We planned to meet only Kelvin and his family, but God brought 35 people and three children who had no idea about our visit to their village but who still welcomed our mission to plant a church in Senzo Centre with one heart. The information Kelvin gave was not accurate, but it led us to Senzo Centre where we found people who were hungry for the word of God. Kelvin received K80, which he has already spent, but a church will be planted and many souls will be won to Christ through the information he gave me. In Ephesians 3:20-21 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations for ever and ever! Amen”


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One response to “Helping a Stranger Opens a Door: A Church Plant Story”

  1. Laura Arnett Fricker says:

    Thank you for this wonderful news. I will be happy to share it with your friends in Smith Center, KS.

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