I want to tell you a story about a memorable journey I set out on about twenty years ago. I traveled west through nine nations from Kenya to Congo, back to Tanzania and south to South Africa to visit people working alone in remote and hard places. My job was to assess projects for an up-close understanding of their work, and learn the scope of what was happening throughout Africa.
Wanting to get an insider view and without much cash, I traveled mainly by “chicken bus” (local transport that everyone and their chicken was using), crammed mini buses, by bicycle and by foot. It would turn out to be a journey of 4733 miles with only a lap-sized carry-on that I always kept a grip on. Along the way, I discussed African politics on buses in Rwanda, economics with gas attendants in Tanzania and saw the beauty and challenges of the continent first-hand. There were moments of elation and despair. I experienced the kindness of so many Africans and grew to love this magnificent continent even more.
One segment of this journey vividly stands out to me today. Needing to get into Northern Mozambique from central Malawi, I was at the bus station waiting for transport to leave at 5am as scheduled. Slowly the minibus filled people and we left at noon. Arriving late at the next hub, the next bus had left – so I got in a pick-up truck and off we went. Reaching the border I met a contact, Pedro, who had come to escort me into Mozambique. Due to war, there was a long distance between the border posts – which are crossed by bicycle taxi. Clutching my luggage I bravely sat on the special passenger seat of my “taxi” – traversing a mile of no-man’s land into Mozambique.
But it was now dusk and all the transport had left. My “host” looked for a place to sleep but the only space was a little hut in a cluster of huts that was essentially a brothel. He locked me in my hut, and warned me not to come out. The next morning, he fetched me early and we got our transport and arrived in the north – covered in a layer of fine red dust. Victory!
As we embarked on this journey / odyssey / pilgrimage of Thrive Africa, I would have done well to remember that journey to Mozambique. I learned so much in those months of travel: the kindness of my hosts, the power of listening to local partners, patience, and the necessity of staying polite, asking questions, and realizing how little we can control. The “transport” leaves when it is full, not when I want it to, or even at the scheduled time.
Twenty years on, those people and projects I visited have grown. Today, if you came along with me, you would see schools and children educated, clinics, churches, and local Christians helping refugees who flood their towns because of conflict. You would see the seeds of the kingdom. And I believe that resources from Thrive Africa will expand this vision even further in the years to come.
The most important character quality to complete this kind of journey is perseverance. To be able to keep going, knowing that God is good, and all kingdom growth involves both time and waiting.
The journey we have been on towards Thrive Africa has had unexpected twists and turns. It has tested our commitment and our convictions. Yet still we stand fast, sure of God’s good intentions for the vulnerable and that we will get to our destination.
Thank you for staying on the journey with us. We know the celebration at our destination will be great and we look forward to sharing it with you!