JOHN & CELIA VALENTINE
“For now, the Lord hath made room for us, and now we shall be fruitful in the land” (GENESIS 26:22)
Three years ago, we asked one of the workers to prune the 10-foot pomegranate hedge and was dismayed to see he had axed it down to waist level. It didn’t seem possible that it would ever recover – But Hallelujah! This year it has born fruit again. This has likewise been a fruitful year for us, so we begin to see the purpose of God taking shape.
The highlight of the year was the opening of the Bible School buildings during Mr North’s visit to us in February. The old grading sheds and tobacco barns which once produced death now been “converted and resurrected” to bring forth life Amen! It was a great day of rejoicing and Mr North gave us a challenging gospel – He and Martin Williams spent a month with us teaching in the Bible School during the day and preaching in the evenings - The 25 students greatly appreciated the ministry; we can see a greater dedication in their lives. At the beginning of this term, we had an intake of 280 children into the primary school, which is now recognised and registered by the Government. The Government will now pay the salaries of seven teachers out of their nine we employ. We are fortunate to have keen young Christian men and women as teachers. A block of six classrooms was just about completed for the beginning of the term. It has been much admired and the District Education Officer (who is a Christian) has been very helpful. However, we still need to build two more blocks – The ablution block and infants and school office block. – At the moment the children are crowded together on homemade benches, some even kneel on the floor and write on the benches, so we have need of proper furniture and equipment. Transport for the students, the school and the farm remain a problem as it is difficult to buy any reliable vehicles at a reasonable price in the country, and spares are not available. Sometimes we are reduced to tractor and trailer!
The weaving Centre on the farm has a three-month training course. At the present 8 women are attending. Two needy women at our compound are being sponsored from the U.K and we hope this will enable them to provide for themselves later. The Church and Youth meetings continue to grow both spiritually and numerically and we are amazed as we see God’s grace abounding and changing people’s lives.
Today has been a very important day to the farm as we installed a pump for the Compound/Village to draw fresh water from a borehole. This will be the first clean water they have ever had. They have been digging the dam and allowing water to filter through for domestic use, so you can imagine what great thanksgiving and rejoicing was in our hearts of the people in the first water appeared.
We are thankful to those who have prayed and supported us so faithfully over the years and do covet your prayers and support for the future.
DAVID & SUE LATHAM
Having been here for the last 5 years, we now feel it is stime to move on. We gave our notice to John in January and asked to be released with his blessing. Our plans are to leave Zimbabwe on 13th August this year. It has been an eventful time, filled with joy and sorrow, abundance and hardship, opportunity and often danger. All those polarizing contrasts that attend the ministry. We remember our time in Kenya when the Lord delivered from a military battleground in Nairobi and our first day in Zimbabwe when the car engine burst into flames. Since then, incidents have been too numerous to mention, and the gospel has gone forth, particularly last year when we held consecutive Gospel Crusades from the end of the country to the other. Many have responded to the Lord. The loss of our son Peter was the most traumatic soul-searching and heart rendering experience we have faced, but even in that, the Lord was with us.
Recently I have had two narrow escapes. The first when someone put the butt of a riffle through my windscreen whilst I was in the driving seat. Then two weeks later, on my way to a baptismal service, the car went out of control in a mountainous area. It went up an embankment into several small trees and was severely damaged. The car was written off but nobody in it had a scratch on them. It was as if a hand caught it in mid-air and placed it safely down on the ground. I think it may have been an angel, but God knows.
We leave behind us a large Bible School complex, a full-scale Primary School, a Cottage Industry and A Farm that has risen from nothing to a considerable financial enterprise. It has been the result of the commitment of many people who have helped for various lengths of time over the years. The contribution that we have made just been part of that. It is the Lords doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.
We haven’t made our decision hastily, as it is a big move to make, especially as we have no idea ass to what is ahead. We trust you will pray for us concerning this.