- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Ministers Convention
I had a very strong desire to attend the minister's meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia. I had found out that the meetings were not just for ministers. The theme, or the direction, of the teaching was for ministers; for those who felt a calling on their lives. But any lay person could attend the meetings and probably get something out of them. (boy was that an understatement!)
Because there were so many of us, about 200, we were being housed in the dormitory of a Baptist seminary. They had a beautiful campus and there was a good cafeteria where we all gathered to eat. Because there were people from all over the world - Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, the Americas - before long you found yourself sitting with someone of like precious faith from halfway around the world. We had five two-hour sessions a day, two in the morning, two in the afternoon and one in the evening.
Brother Ed Byskal was the host for these meetings and he had assembled three fine ministers to teach in the 2-hour sessions; Brother Lonnie Jenkins, a teacher from Lima, Ohio, Brother Jeremiah Mkanganwi, a pastor from Harare, Zimbabwe and Brother Vin Dayal from Trinidad. There was loose format they all followed but you could see the working of the Holy Spirit as he worked tying each message one to another, presenting everything in a wonderfully cohesive package -too wonderful for it to have been anything but God.
Imagine, if you will, the best church service you have ever attended. The one where the sermon seemed to be preached especially for you. Almost every point the pastor makes strikes a chord in your life. Now imagine 19, two hour services all building to a climax. Thats what these services were to me, and to many others. It was the most significant spiritual experience of my life. I came back a changed man, dedicated to presenting my life as a living sacrifice to my Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I know why I felt such a desire to come to these meetings. Im just foolish enough to believe that everything that had happened was pointing me to these meetings and the message that was contained in them. And the Lord was not finished . . .
Coming back from the meetings in Cloverdale was kind of a let down. I had been on a spiritual mountaintop and I was now coming back to the valley of everyday life. Back to the problems of the house and pool construction; back to the realization that I probably needed to get a job - although, praise God, I wasnt hurting for money. Back also to the realization that with Walts death, I was sort of drifting, without any natural heritage.
Our first weekend back, our pastor, Brother Ron, had announced that we were going to have a guest speaker, Brother Jeremiah Mkanganwi from Zimbabwe, one of the teachers from the ministers meeting. That was exciting because we had become acquainted during the meetings. One morning, the day after he arrived, about eight of us got together for breakfast.
We were all sitting around chatting
when Brother Jeremiah said,
"Brother John, I understand that you run the sound system for Brother Ron."
I said, "Yes, I do."
He said, "Why dont you come over to Zimbabwe and install one in our church?"
As quick as he asked that I answered, "Okay, when do you want me to do it?"
"Do you mean it?" he asked.
I said, "Yes I do. When would you like me to come over?"
Have you ever said something and it was like someone else talking? I can distinctly remember that exact conversation but I cant believe that I said it. No, I didnt have any commitments, but to make an offer to fly halfway around the world to Africa? Youve got to be kidding!
Anyway, we talked about it some and then I went home and talked to Linda about my grand adventure. Needless to say she was surprised and her first question was, "Where is Zimbabwe?"
Zimbabwe is in southeastern Africa, just north of the country of South Africa. It was formerly a British crown colony called Rhodesia. It is officially an English speaking country, predominately black and has a British style of government. The people are unusually friendly and have a wonderful sense of humor, but more on that later.
After I called Brother Jeremiah
back and told him I would definitely go to Zimbabwe, we spent the next couple of days
buying the sound equipment I would be installing. He was going to take it back with him
and I would follow in 3-4 weeks when I got my passport. There was a whirlwind of activity
as I applied and got my passport, learned everything I could about the country and people,
and completed the construction on the house and the pool . . . finally!