This has been our Journey!
Dear ministry partners,
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10, NIV)
I can hardly believe 10 years are behind us since Possibilities Africa “PA” was started. With nostalgia, I remember very well finishing my studies in the USA in 2005 and making a difficult decision to return to Africa to serve the people of my country. The decision to go back to Africa, leaving behind the opportunities that abound in the USA, seemed at the time reckless to many. For me, this was an act of conviction born out of faith, the same faith which five years earlier had brought me to study at the Moody Bible Institute without having tuition money, or knowing where I was going to stay, or plans of how I will survive in a new country and culture. Through this journey from Kenya to the USA, I saw the providential hand of God as I had seen it again and again throughout my life growing up. The Christian journey is one of faith and obedience and I knew this journey to start and grow “PA” would not be any less!
Though I had two masters degrees I felt like I didn’t know or understand what I was getting myself into. I needed to learn what it is God wanted me to do. I also needed to learn about the people God wanted me to serve. More importantly, I needed to continue to learn to listen, to hear, to obey and to depend on God. I felt like a David when he faced Goliath although there were more qualified and experienced soldiers to take on the fight (1 Samuel 17:20 – 37). Indeed, I knew there were bigger and more experienced charitable organizations in Africa, all trying to do good for the people of Africa. I was bombarded by many questions. What would I, with nothing to start with, do that will actually help? What could be wrong with the efforts of so many charitable organizations? Yet at the back of my mind, I knew that despite all the efforts which had been put in place for almost a century, Africa was still not transforming. Something needed to change!
From the start, I have had friends and Christian brothers who held my hand as we walked together on this journey. Merrell McIlwain has remained a faithful leader and ministry partner in this journey. From the very start when the idea was born, he devoted his finances, time and networks; he and his wife sacrificed greatly to help me begin and continue on this journey. Not many people are such faithful, loyal and constant ministry partners. Last year, a gentleman called Joseph Wafula who was among our initial ministry beneficiaries passed on. This was not until he had seen a couple of his children finish college. When we met him almost 10 years ago, he had basically nothing. Even the plot of land on which his house was built and which was supposed to be his source of livelihood was all leased out to others for very little money and he had little hope of raising the money needed to put his children through school. We began to teach Joseph and his family the basics of taking responsibility, working hard, and starting small income generating activities. As result, he was able to keep dairy cows, sell milk, and he reclaimed his land and educated his children, 2 up to college level. When he became ill 3 years ago he told me that his dairy cows were what helped him pay for medication. When he passed on last year his children were so grateful for what PA had done for them. Merrell knows this very well because he has been with us from the start and his labor of love to grow this ministry continues to bear fruits. Merrell and his wife Cheri have been in Joseph’s home. I will forever be grateful to them for all they have sacrificed to help create this ministry which today is reaching thousands across 4 countries in Africa.
I have had a chance to meet many of you at banquets, churches, and for some, I have had the honor to be in your homes. I have met several of you over breakfast, lunch, dinners and desserts. You have listened to me and encouraged me in the work we are doing. I must confess the meals you have bought for me in these meetings have contributed to how large I am becoming 🙂 🙂 :). Just recently I met several of you in the great state of Nebraska and together we talked about what we have accomplished and what we can accomplish in the future. Most of you have gone a step further and written a cheque to support our work. Several of you have traveled all the way to Africa to see and participate in what we do. The journey of PA has been possible because of these moments we have shared and the actions taken by each one of you. We can never tell the story of PA without you being a central part of it. While it remains my joy to be the voice of PA, it has taken all of us to achieve the results which we are witnessing as PA impacts individuals, families, churches and whole communities. It is because of what each one of you does through your prayers, giving, going, serving; that today we can look back on the past 10 years and say, Ebenezer!
A while back in one of our training events in Africa, Pastor Doug Shada of Living Faith Fellowship Church in Kearney, NE, taught us that the glory of God is more important than our selfish desires. His inspiration, leadership and relentless support have kept all of us in Africa motivated and engaged in this journey. The leadership and members of Living Bible Faith church, Steadfast Bible Fellowship Church, Faith Bible Church and other churches that have supported us are what has made it possible for PA to reach so many communities and so many countries. The Bible calls on us to go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). These three churches have been doing exactly that – reaching the ends of the earth through their support of PA. Though they are far away in Nebraska towns in the middle of the USA, they are bringing the gospel to villages in the farthest and remotest parts of the world here in Africa.
Today, our ministry presence is established in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and is also being introduced indirectly, through the pastors we have trained, into Tanzania and Mozambique. In the past year, we have grown exponentially, from 30 communities to now 83 communities. Over the past 5 years, we have trained 1,202 pastors who are championing holistic transformation in their village communities. Our partners have started thousands of micro-businesses through our economic empowerment program. In 2016 alone 627 micro-businesses were started. The pastors we have trained are today mentoring and providing elementary education to over 20,700 children in their churches and villages. So many more from numerous African communities are calling on us to come and help them. Others who initially resisted our call on them to turn from a handouts mentality to live responsibly are now coming back to us and asking for our help. Over the waves of the sea and the uncertainties of life, we have learned to remain consistent in this work. As a result, today we have together with you, built a Ministry with a clear Message and we have developed and honed a ministry Model which has given Momentum to our work. As we look back at the past years we can only say THANK YOU! to God for what He has done. Personally, I want to thank each one of you who has played any part in this Journey. It is because of you and your giving that God is using us to do what we do in Africa. We expect this momentum to continue over the coming years. Together we are impacting thousands of households. It is my prayer that we will not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9, NIV.)
Now we face another 10 years with great opportunity to transform Africa holistically. We have to redouble our prayers, our work, and our giving. Many are now calling on us and asking us to bring this ministry, message, and hope to them. We have the opportunity to respond to invitations from Tanzania, Mozambique, and Liberia. Our goal is to establish 4 ministry hubs from where we will spread our work into all of Africa. With our ministry model, we believe we can begin to develop these ministry hubs in East, Southern, West, and Central Africa regions concurrently if funds were available. We have a great opportunity and momentum, created over 10 years, which we believe is transforming Africans and their communities, teaching them to come off handouts, embrace responsibility and build their lives so as not to depend on charity forever. Our ministry is touching every aspect of the lives of Africans; mentally, spiritually, socially and economically. This, in my opinion, is what has been missing in the century-old effort to help Africans. We are providing it, thanks to your generosity.
This has been our journey together and it continues. Thank you! With God all things are possible!
Your ministry partner,
Martin M. Simiyu
Founder/MD and Chief Strategist