JOHN & MARTHA SHAW – Auchenheath.
We count it a real privilege to have been able to spend six months at Ameva to stand in while John & Celia returned home to U.K. (they arrived back only 6 days before we were due to leave). Martin and Marion Williams are so happily settled in Ameva and are already fully involved with the work. It was a thrill see the progress since we were there last.
The Bible School and Primary School buildings are now complete (only a national shortage of cement prevented the completion of the school toilet block) and there are 25 keen young men in the Bible School and 370 pupils in the Primary School. Perhaps the greatest progress of all was seen in the lives of many of the young people and ex-students working on the farm.
There was so much one could say, but we will tell you of an incident which incorporates the early difficulties and disappointments and shows us how Gods hand has been upon the work.
The following letter to John Valentine was received by a prisoner in Kadoma who was told about Ameva from a fellow prisoner who had been a student in the early days but didn’t complete the course.
‘I am very much pleased to write this letter in the name of Jesus Christ our lord. I am a man aged 29 years and am totally nowhere. I was born in the Masignga providence in a very poor family and very unfortunately when I was the age of 3 our family were struck by lightening in a small hut. They were all burnt to ashes except me by the means I could not even explain until to this day.
It is said that I was taken to a mission where I was hospitalised by the missionaries. I stayed with them at that mission until 1978 when I was 18 years. Then and there was when my life and the light within my life became darkness and I think that is when I was supposed to die. It happened that the guerrillas who were fighting against the Rhodesia soldiers came to a mission by night and took some older boys and girls and shot every white person they saw, every patient ordered to go to their homes both with young and weak school children.
After the place was clear they set on fire nearly every building at that mission. I also managed to escape and went to Kwekwe where I heard the rumours of a certain relative, but I could not get anyone to know. I struggled for food, going to town to search every bin for food and it was like that until one day I was caught stealing some maise meal from someone’s garden. I was driven to prison for 60 days.
Now, in prison calls, I met some criminals who as last became who at last became my friends and my advisers. They told me stories, mainly on crime. It was all like that every night when we came back from the gangs. I can’t say too much today as it needs a lot of time to explain but what I really want you to know is that from time to time in my life is always behind prison. All the stories I was told I tasted; it became a prison term.
From all what I can say I wanted and I’m willing from the utmost of your ability to see the picture of my life and I’m not ashamed to say this to anybody and I’m desperately nowhere.
There’s a verse in the Bible which reads: ‘No man can serve two masters … you cannot serve both God and Money’. Every time when I am reading the Bible and come to this chapter, I feel guilty of everything I am doing but there is nothing I can do because when I come out of prison I will be having nowhere to live, nothing to eat not even to wear. Even if I think of God while sleeping in the bush by night, hungry and with nothing to cover my body from the cold night my clothes in rags, I will never forget to steal is a sin but how can I escape? No-one can answer me except some who says its better to steal and go to prison where there is free food.
Please I heard from someone about your organisation that in Christ you can help the lost ones please please please I beg you May You Help Me.
Yours faithfully – Aaron Nyoka’
One of the Bible students, Richard, had previously worked as a prison officer so I had taken him to Kadoma. He was allowed to see Aaron and verified his story. Aaron was actually being remanded in custody awaiting trial for a car theft. Richard made several visits and shared the Gospel with Aaron. One day we received a telegram saying if we paid £100 Aaron would be released on bail. I asked the students if they would be willing to let Aaron stay with them and come to the Bible School. There was a wholehearted response and Aaron came to Ameva.
A few weeks later after the Sunday morning services, he came to me with a radiant smile saying that God had spoken to him, he knew he would be alright. Later that day he told me he wanted to be baptised. When asked why, he said, “The Bible says, ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved.” He said, “I have believed but I have not been baptised, so I am not saved”.
He simply believed what the Bible said, and the following week was baptised in the dam. He was asked to say a few words and he preached for three quarters of an hour! He had certainly listened to and taken in what he had heard in Bible School.
When we left his case had not been tried and he was still at Ameva. At our farewell he came to me and said, “I am still not baptised in the Holy Ghost.” Some of us prayed for him and we are trusting he received. Please pray for Aaron and every-one at Ameva.
Another outcome from this contract is that Richard has been giving permission to preach to the prisoners every Sunday morning at Kadorma.
A couple of practical points –
One of the houses on the farm is now permanently occupied by Mr. Shuma and his family. This means accommodation is more restricted, so please contact Terry Watson before making any arrangements to visit Ameva.
Some Africans, especially children, have been receiving either English money or cheques from people from the U.K. This could lead to problems and it would be advisable to send any gifts for the Africans to John or Martin, Who can arrange for the money to be changed into Zimbabwean dollars.