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Les Wheeldon

I lost count of the number of times I visited Zimbabwe, but it was at least 15x beginning around 1990. My most vivid personal memory is of preaching an evening series in the tobacco shed. It was a pastors’ conference and there were about 50 leaders present. There were also so many young people present from the village on the farm and many from Chegutu. The choirs were tremendous, the presence of God tangible and the preaching came with power. At the end of the meeting so many were repenting with tears, some lying prostate on the ground crying out to God for His cleansing touch. That was not a rare occurrence and I loved preaching there. I also remember great preaching from Paul Evans, Dennis Collins, along with many great Zimbabwean preachers such as Orpheus Hove and Timothy the director of the Bible society in Zimbabwe in the 1990s. The Lord moved and God was glorified.


Of course, this was all under the loving direction of John and Celia Valentine. They were always so encouraging and hospitable and it was their love and spiritual authority that provided the context for the Lord to move in transforming power. They were also so kind, taking me on several occasions to safari parks, once to ride bareback on an elephant that walked into a river and submerged itself with me and the guide. Another time to walk with young lions, (John and Celia declined to participate!) Jim and Margaret Bailey walked with me and then suddenly Margaret was attacked by a young lion. Such unforgettable adventures!

I remember the many times that there were seminars on AIDS during the conferences.


I remember young women holding babies, both mums and babies with AIDS. They were pleading with the listeners to follow the teaching of the Bible and not make the same mistakes they had made. They had found hope and joy in Christ despite the awareness that their lives would be short.


I remember regular scones and cream with John and Martha Shaw and speaking at the assembly in the secondary school where John was the headmaster. So many lives were touched in the different ministries, in the primary school, the secondary school, the farm, the church in the scout hut and so many more ways. How we praise the Lord for the Valentines and the wonderful work of God in Ameva!

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