I must confess I feel a tad guilty this newsletter/ blog from Zimbabwe is so late in getting out to all of you. Honestly, the last couple months I have been moving at high speed covering a lot of ground. So much has happened in such a short period of time, trying to find a moment to write has been virtually impossible. I write best when I am able to be still and hear my soul. All I have been hearing lately is the air moving like a wind tunnel past my ears.
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
To get you caught up with all the developments… I left Kansas City on April 4th on United Airlines bound for Johannesburg, South Africa to stay with dear friend Judy Corney and her incredible family for a week. Judy is the former proprietor of Mikes Kitchen, a well-known restaurant chain in SA. She is a sharp businesswoman who is equally passionate about Peace & Reconciliation. She taught in Soweto during some of the most difficult days of the struggle against Apartheid in the 1990’s. She risked her life fighting for justice on behalf of the poor and downtrodden. I have a great deal of respect for her. She has been a wonderful friend, hostess and now the new SA Country Representative for the National Centre for Peace. I’m grateful for her help as so much of what we desire to do in Zimbabwe will have to be sourced in South Africa.
From Joburg I headed up to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and was greeted by David Cunningham one of nations spiritual fathers. He had brought with him to the airport the most beautiful and excited Zimbabwean woman, Abigail Musasa. Those of you on Facebook will have seen the photos by now but so many are wanting to hear the back story of our relationship. Strap up… here we go!
WHO ARE YOU?
Last year, in the weeks leading up to our first National Centre for Peace Healing event in the rural area of Esigodini, I spoke at a number of Bulawayo churches and was introduced to a few key pastors in the city. Aby then was the programs coordinator at her church, New Creation Church and I met her when I spoke in their staff devotions. My friend David Beevers had introduced me to Mpi Ndebele her pastor and during my conversation with him and his team I noticed Aby; quiet and unassuming, but with a sharp mind by the questions she asked. On the day of the NCP event, Nov. 25th, I was impressed to see that she had joined the two-hour trek into the rural areas under the extremely hot sun to be a part of the memorial service since many from the city could not make it.
On the way back home, hot, sunburned and exhausted after an epic battle to pull the event off I was too tired to converse and simply listened to the dialogue in the truck. While everyone else was performing a post-mortem on the event, Aby was telling the personal stories of the old Peacemakers we had just honored. I was taken back that she had invested the time to personally get to know them and learn their stories. I remember asking myself the question “Who does that?” Who takes the time to sit with old people the world has forgotten about to learn their stories? I need to find out more about who this woman is, I noted to myself.
I was staying with Mrs. Gertrude Tabyvuma my wonderful hostess at the time and decided to ask Aby over for further dialogue. Little did she know that I had been carrying around in my head for some time an idea called a Mobile Healing Unit. I had noticed in Zimbabwe there are many NGO’s with unique skill-sets all working independently of one another trying to heal the nation. Often their programs are for a few hours or single day events and they have limited resources to make presentations. I wondered… what if we could build a multimedia truck that we could take into a local village and set up for a week and do healing and economic development programs? Even better, what if we did it collaboratively with other organizations and be the facilitator for them to do what they do well? Aby was walking into all this and she had no idea . LOL!!!
As we sat around Mrs. T’s dining room table, me sharing my vision, I noticed tears in her eyes. I started to see this intelligent woman was equally compassionate and empathetic as I had suspected. She then asked me where she could read more about this MHU idea? Much to her surprise it was all in my head! She was taken back and started to pepper me with more questions while at the same time adding brilliant ideas of her own. I think it was at this point I started to realize… I’m falling in love with this woman though I kept it to myself. I then asked her if she would like to take the things we discussed and put them into a concept paper. She jumped at the opportunity. A week later she came back with a really well-done paper that expressed “our” heart and soul.
YOU GO GIRL
I had an NCP Board meeting scheduled for the next week in Harare and felt it would not be right for me to present the paper to them as mine and proceeded to ask her if she would be willing to travel up and do it herself. She nervously agreed. Needless to say, the Board was extremely impressed by both her and her presentation. They in fact unanimously agreed she needed to head up the MHU program. While up there I introduced her to a few other strategic acquaintances and personal friends. All were equally impressed by her demeanor. I kept my best poker face on though not letting on to any of them that the more time I spent with her, the more I was falling in love.
Over the week, in private, I began to open up more with her about how I was feeling. I was so excited when she articulated mutual feelings. Together we decided to open the door of our hearts to each other and have frank, transparent and well thought through dialogue about “what if?” Neither of us was in a place of wanting to suffer the pain again of marriage failure. I had started entertaining the idea of even staying single so I could focus on writing and other endeavors. Marriage is difficult enough and our relationship was bringing some significant issues to the table that we needed to sort through and find a path forward if this was going to work. There was already a difference of perspective being male and female, now we were adding cultural differences and significant distance to the mix.
SO FAR AWAY
Over the months while I was back in the US, Aby went through a major surgery that needed to happen if she was going to take on the pressure of launching a new initiative in Zimbabwe. During her time of recuperation in Marondera at the Light House Community, we did a lot of reflecting and dialoguing. Thank goodness for modern technology. I wrestled with our relationship, prayed continually and only a month before I was scheduled to return to Zimbabwe decided God was in it. I also talked to some of my “brothers in the battle” in Zimbabwe, men I trust with my life and who knew Aby. All of them, in one form or another, said “Aby, will make a great wife, she carries your heart”. That’s all I needed to hear to tell her to move forward with plans for the wedding.
Still though, in the back of my mind I needed one last confirmation to settle my soul completely… to see her again! As I made my way out of Zim Customs to the small airport lobby my heart was beating intensely. When I held her in my arms everything suddenly went peaceful and I knew she was the one for me! From April 14th to April 28th it was a complete insanity as we didn’t have much money to work with and had to do a great deal of the wedding prep ourselves. We wanted an evening that our friends and family would enjoy so kept the ceremony short and the social interaction long. From the comments afterwards, everyone had a great deal of fun and discovered that weddings don’t have to be expensive to be good. My longtime friend Brian Oldreive and his wife Cathy took the bus down from Harare so he could be my Best Man. My dear friend Nigel Chanakira and his wife Caroline drove down. When you realize fuel is over $6/ gallon here you know how special that was for us.
One of the issues we were struggling with while getting ready for the wedding was where were we going to live and launch the NCP from? Purchasing real estate was out of the question at this point and finding rental property is quite difficult under the current economic conditions. Once again, God opened a door when our friends Jonathan and Sheeren Thompson called to say they had just taken over as Leasing Agents for a property in Burnside which is southeast Bulawayo on the edge of the “bush” in Zim or “country” in the US. The minute Aby drove on the property she said, “We’ll take it!”. It’s a thatched roof, 3-bedroom home with a number of out-buildings which we will use as offices. In a sweet twist, Aby’s son Ryan had asked if he could have a treehouse and sure enough there is one on the property. With move in day May 2nd, needless to say it was a really short honeymoon!
I’m sure we will laugh about it some day but Aby was so exhausted she ended up getting the flu during our Honeymoon. We decided to stay in town as we had nothing to put in the house so need to acquire a few things. We didn’t even have a car so had to borrow one. There I was driving my sick wife around town trying to find beds, stove, refrigerator etc. On May 2nd we moved in and thanks to my American friend Jay Gerhart, who owns a pickup truck we actually slept on a bed, in our house that night.
RETURN TO SANITY
After a month focused on domestic life, I was ready to get back in the battle. On May 12th we headed up to Harare for a week of strategic meetings returning on the 19th exhausted but grateful for the many wonderful colleagues we have who care deeply about healing Zimbabwe and understand that God has a wonderful plan for this nation. There is a great deal of work ahead of us as we all know the great wealth that God has entrusted to this nation that is sitting in the ground. The country was once the breadbasket of Africa and there are things happening now to restore it to its former glory. There is over $3 Trillion in mineral wealth under the soil. Some of it simply washed down out of the mountains after a cyclone recently tore through the eastern part of the country.
While the potential of wealth is great, what God is after is the hearts of His people in Zimbabwe. Transformation of the soul, is the soul of transformation and until we fully deal with the selfish ambition and greed that has permeated the political, business and religious elite, we will never get free from the chains of poverty. Please pray for a spiritual revival to come to the nation.
In my next blog, I will share more on what is immediately in front of us in helping heal the nation via the National Centre for Peace and how we plan to help restore the economy via Joseph Company Global.
For those interested in partnering with us here is what we need:
- Our monthly admin budget combined US & Zimbabwe $3,000/mo.
- We are in great need of a 4×4 Pick Up $50,000
- The Mobile Healing Unit $165,000
For those interested in partnering with us here is how you can donate:
Mail Donations to:
Compassionate Justice Intl.
6701 West 64th Street
Suite 220 Bldg 5
Overland Park, KS 66202-4170
Bob – personal congratulations to you and Aby it appears that you have not only found your purpose in life as God intended, as well as a soul mate to share it with. May God continue to bless Aby and your work in addition to having many years wonderful years together.
Thank you Mary…I’m a blessed man for sure