As Margaret and I look back and reflect on our involvement with Ameva, we realise how much influence it has had upon our lives and the lives of many many others. I first went there with a small team, abouta dozen or so, to just help where we could. Then the following year Margaret and I went with another small team.
Having never been to a third world country, the difference was staggering. We grew up in what was considered a poor area of South London and had seen poor people living in poverty, but this was on an altogether different level. The people were living, or should I say surviving, in a new transitioning country where everything was in shortsupply and corruption was everywhere. Essentials are taken for granted by us in our country and it took time to sink in, the task John and Celia had taken on by layingdown their liveson an abandoned tobacco farm way out in the sticks. John told me once, part of their vision “was to get people born again and send them out to preachthe Gospel” I say part of theirvision because it grew into varied worksof livelihood, education and care for thousands of people over the forty years they have been there. In those early days it seemed a very small seed was being sown into a very big, hopeless desert. However we caught the vision and began taking teams, mainly from the UK to spend about a month, helping whereverwe could. The teams ranged from studentsto builders to office workers, our youngest was fifteen and our oldest seventy six. Church groups, individuals and couples. All were welcomed, you can imagine the stories that were shared as ordinary people acclimatised to such a cultureshock, there had to a desire to work as a team whilst workingin a hot and dry environment. So much was accomplished by team after team bonded together in the spirit of unity, they would embrace the vision of what John and Celia were doing, and give everything they could to any task asked of them. They were amazing times of growth both spiritually and practically, children's clubs, outreach to villages,houses and farm buildings erected, holes dug and much more. They were able to engage with the locals in such a way that any prejudicewould dissolve into smiles and laughter. But I must say that the presence of the Holy Spirit was at times almost tangible. Spiritually we had come from reasonably comfortable surroundings to a place where deprivation was staring us in the face.That sense of spiritual warfaregave a new awareness to the necessity of prayer for everydaylife. Members of the team were beingstretched by havingto testify of their faithto a listening and watching audience, not only on the platform, but also on how they acted day to day. I would say virtually all those that came, testified afterwards how they became closer to God on visiting Ameva. Many came home determined to get more involved in spreading the Gospel in their own area. Margaret and I became part of those supporting Ameva in the UK, this involved collecting materials needed to outfit the farm, schoolsand crèche. And packing containers, then shipping them to the farm. Also visiting many churches and groups throughout the British isles, sharing about Ameva and what was happening.
God has so blessed us as we have had the privilege of gaining so many friends around the country. Ameva has become a big part of our lives for the last 35 years and will always be a part of our prayers. John and Celia have been an incredible inspiration to us over the years, their love, faith, perseverance and dedication has been proof of what God can do when people commit to Him. Praise God