“For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:12
Purchasing a vehicle for our Zimbabwe ministry has been quite an experience in how Africa works. (Spoiler alert: It works about as well as a vehicle broken down on the roadside!)
This project—and it is difficult to call it a transaction—included theft, lies, deception and corruption; and yet, by God’s grace, our vehicle is ready for ministry action.
John traveled from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Cape Town, South Africa to visit his spiritual children at our Stone Hill ministry and collect funds for the vehicle purchase.
Zimbabweans can purchase used Japanese vehicles in Durban, South Africa at a very reasonable price. Strangely enough, South Africans may not purchase the same!
These are not allowed to drive on South African roads. Instead, they’re transported on trucks into Zimbabwe, where the purchaser collects the vehicle at a government installation.
John had almost given up on getting the most useful Toyota model we agreed would best serve our needs. Then someone pointed him to the last of this model hidden away between busses in the sale lot. It was exactly what we wanted; a Toyota Harrier!
Payment had to be made in U.S. cash. Another challenge: South Africans, by law, cannot purchase U.S. cash unless they are leaving the country and only within 60 days of leaving. A bit of intrigue managed to get this sorted out.
When the 30 vehicles, purchased by various Zimbabweans, were to leave Durban for Zimbabwe there were riots in two South African cities—making for a precarious passage for our citizen convoy.
Eighty U.S. dollars from each buyer secured a private security company to escort and help deliver the vehicles across the border.
When John collected our vehicle in Zimbabwe he was charged more than 100 percent import taxes—on the 20-year-old car. Plus, all the petrol had been drained from the tank. Oh yes. And the battery was stolen.
After buying a battery and petrol on the black market, John could finally head home where he had to register the car at his local state office. Here the helpful government officials wanted more taxes because the body, interior and engine were in spotless condition.
And, just when we thought the project was done, the police arrived at John’s home, sniffing around to find out how a missionary could afford a car in such dire economic circumstances?
I thought this very short summary of how Africa (ahem) works, might make you feel much better when you purchase your next vehicle.
A very BIG thank you to ITMI, every church and friend who played a part in making this purchase a reality. We honestly can’t thank you enough!
Whatever the obstacles we face, by God’s grace we are going to be much more effective in furthering the Gospel of the Kingdom, in Zimbabwe, with this useful tool!