This article was originally published in the November 2015 edition of ITMI Monthly.
God created camouflage. He gave this marvelous visual-bending gift to many of the animals that He so uniquely created. Zebras use their stripes to confuse the lions. Geckos can look just like the branches they live on. Leaf insects can easily be mistaken for stationary parts of the plant where they roam, and certain fish can look exactly like coral. God uses camouflage in the human world also.
One of the much loved stories of the Old Testament is the recount in II Kings 6, of Elisha's servant, afraid of the massive enemy's army that was encamped all around the Children of Israel's soldiers. Elisha saw and knew what the servant couldn't.
That is why he answered in a most unexpected way, "... Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." Most of us remember that not until God "opened" the eyes of the servant, was he able to see "the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
God continues to confound those that go their own way, and yet He blesses and give sight to those that "seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness."
Last month on our trip to Zambia, God clearly showed He is still providing and caring for His faithful even today, even in Africa, even against all earthly logic.
Tim and Ashley Keller are impacting Zambia one family and one church at a time.
Tim has pretty much decided to unofficially adopt a small dirt poor community, 80 kilometers east of the capital of Lusaka. Tim's impact on the community and church in Katakantapa is very evident if you have visited any other African communities.
Tim is always ready to serve!
Tim has so connected with the people and church leadership in Katakantapa that when Tim brought our team of three, Jon Dekkers, Steve Lee, and Steve Evers to come teach SALT discipleship training in late September, there was an instantaneous "family" connection, even though we were of a different race, country and culture.
This only happens when there is real deep understanding that we all are really from the same race - the human race, no matter where we were born or what color we happen to be. It is even more important to understand our connection when we are united as adopted children into God's own family.
To come to minister to a group of previous unknown brothers and sisters and to be so immediately connected to them speaks volumes of how the Kellers have depended on God to bridge the seen and unseen chasms that normally separate missionaries and native cultures.
Tim and Ashley love these people.
It is demonstrated in many ways, including seeking to help with life and ministry needs. They also help by intentionally bringing mission teams that Tim schedules to visit, serve, train and encourage the believers in Chongwe and Katakantapa.
Reconciliation Ministries International in Katakantapa, Zambia offers a warm and gracious welcome to all visitors.
The ladies of the church prepare mid-day dinner for the ITMI team in their humble church's kitchen.
The Kellers, by faith, continue to pour their lives and resources into the Katakantapa community and church. Even when the Kellers were personally impacted recently by one of their main supporting churches, that had decided to curtail missionary support due to a building program, the Kellers still stepped out in faith to help the believers of Eastern Zambia by financing two water wells.
The Kellers are excited to see how God will use these wells for His glory. More on that later.
One of the champions that Tim and Ashley have identified in the Chongwe area and have poured their energies and help into is a tall slender Zambian named Ruben Mwale.
Ruben is a very humble man with a deep conviction to serve the Lord at all costs. He is extremely intelligent and could be very successful if he chose to use his talents in the business arena. Ruben wants to "seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness" as he oversees the health and mentoring of 8 very poor rural churches.
These churches are attended by mostly rural people who have little extra at the end of the day. They struggle caring for and feeding their families. They cannot help Ruben, a workman worthy of his hire, with funds to care for his family.
Ruben has a dear supportive wife and 4 children of their own. Ruben willingly cares for 8 other children that have no one to care for them, all on no salary, but a soul-full of faith in his Heavenly Father.
Ruben has little to no finances, yet God has led the local government to give Ruben some land. This almost never happens in an African country due to land being so coveted by the culture.
However, God is bigger than the "Kings" and leaders. Ruben, by faith launched out into raising crops to help feed and finance his ever growing family. Not unusual normally, except Ruben is growing crops that normally would not grow in such a dry and harsh environment, but God is causing his crops to grow, much to the government's surprise.
Ruben's land has a very dense clay type soil, bad for growing crops, but good for making bricks, which he is doing so that he can house his family and the orphans he is caring for.
Ruben showed us his half built house and was embarrassed that he couldn't afford real cement to mortar the bricks together. He is making mortar from the clay soil on his property.
A pineapple plant growing where it shouldn't be able to grow!
God provided good clay soil so Ruben could make his own bricks for building. Here he shows Steve Lee the ovens he uses to make them.
The grass huts where Ruben lives with his family.
Ruben shows ITMI Board member, Jon Dekkers how God is growing sugar cane and other crops with little of the usual requirements for growth.
Ruben shares with Jon his hope to finish and put a roof on his family's new home before the rainy season.
This is where God has chosen to pull back the camouflage and show that He can provide in miraculous ways.
Tim Keller tells the story this way.
Ruben needed a water well close to where his house was being built. Ruben couldn't begin to pay for one. Tim, at God's leading, offered to finance a well for Ruben and his family.
Ruben was overjoyed.
When the well driller came to drill the well, the 50 meter (150 foot) well came up ...dry. This is never a good thing, except when God is involved.
When the driller finished removing all the pipe from the dry hole, he pulled Ruben aside and said, "...I wish I could trade you my land for your land...", which seemed strange under the circumstances. The driller went on to explain that almost all the way down to the depth of 50 meters, the drillers didn't find water, but they did find the raw materials that have unique and future value. [Editor’s note: we will share more when we are able.]
Camouflaged in a barren piece of Zambian land, buried in a dry water well hole is the raw material that could help Ruben care for his family and even further missions in Zambia.
Ruben shows the ITMI team the bore hole.
Ruben's amazing story is one that we all cannot lose site of - God is faithful - God is able to do the impossible - God can care for each one of us if we will put Him first and "seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
Oh, by the way, Tim brought the driller back to Ruben's property, and they hit good clean water at 100 meters which will meet immediate needs for Ruben and his family.
Pray for Ruben as he seeks God’s wisdom and direction on what to do with his new found, God provided opportunities.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.