John Valentine spoke at Cliff College in 1980 about Ameva. He preached from John’s gospel on resurrection life and at the end he asked the men who were prepared to go to stand up. I stood up. Then he asked where “were the women” who were prepared to follow these men. Sue stood up.
This was our response, but the time was not right for us to go and I let it slip but Sue continued to pray for God’s will to be done. (I went out soon after this on a work party with Ron White to wire up the Bible College and dorms. Later Sue and Phil went out to help; Phil then took a year out and went there with Graham Mallet for 6 months). Eventually in about 1993 God spoke to me “what hinders thee” from Peter getting out of the boat. It was early on a Sunday morning, so I got Sue and the family up and said that God had spoken it was time to go and they all agreed. We phoned John Valentine in Zimbabwe and he said to come and teach in the Secondary School. We told Peter Gray and he announced it in church that morning.
Eventually Sue and I left England in April 1995 to go to join those at Ameva. Phil, who was then at university, joined us for his summer vacation and Naomi, having remained to complete her A-levels, joined us in the summer and stayed for about 6 months. Both Phil (twice) and Naomi returned to visit and help with the work.
Upon arriving we lived on the farm next door to John and Martha Shaw, and I took up my teaching post at Ameva Secondary School. During my time there I set up the Science Lab and the Preparation Room. This involved creating the mains electrical distribution board for the school and wiring up the science area, building the permanent and moveable benches. I also trained Twape Black as a technician. I enjoyed the time teaching the pupils, finding them so well behaved and keen to learn. The Ameva staff where wonderful to work with and the leadership of John Shaw the best I’ve known. The Deputy (and now headmaster) Shepherd Ziramba was a good man to work with. He loves the Lord and shows it in all he does.
Sue oversaw First Aid and the Medical cupboard and also Celia asked her to set up the crèche in the straw church. During this time, she organised the building of a storeroom and a Blair toilet for the crèche. We got involved in the life of the church in Chegutu and on the farm. We joined in the prayer meetings, the bible study, and the Sunday afternoon outreach to the outlying farms led by John Shaw. Sue helped the ladies outreach meetings run by Martha Shaw on Saturdays. We also provided a place for the young people from the UK (people who had come out to work on the farm for a period) to come and enjoy a relaxing Saturday evening watching a movie.
Whilst there we enjoyed the times when teams led by Jim and Margaret Bailey visited the farm and we got involved with them. After being there nearly 3 years, we returned to the UK for me to take up teaching again. But the pull of Africa was still there, and we returned on 2 teams with the Baileys. Further to this we returned 5 times for me to teach some of the BTCP modules to the students. During these times Sue ran a Health Clinic (eventually these stopped due to changing regulations).
Some of our lasting memories include spending time at Ian and Elsie Gibson’s home where hospitality was lavished upon visitors, scrabble was the game and swimming a relaxation. It was a pleasure to travel around the country on holiday with Eric and Ros Taylor and John and Martha. We got to see some of the beauty of the country and meet lovely friendly people as we travelled. We also remember the wonderful leadership of John and Celia and how they led by example. The tremendous love they have for the folks at Ameva was clearly demonstrated and it was a privilege to be a part of the work.