The LORD did something awesome for me yesterday.
For seventeen months I have been seeking ways to obtain letters of recommendation from Mwinilungan authorities and two chiefs to support my application for a work permit.
Well, the Department of Agriculture surveyed folk at the recent agriculture show about the training I did in Chief Kanyama’s kingdom. Receiving a good response from folk who have witnessed the increased harvests in the chief’s area the Department of Agriculture has provided me with a letter of recommendation. (I may have mentioned this before).
But I still needed a letter of recommendation from His Royal Highness, Senior Chief Konongesha.
In January last year he invited me to his palace 45km from Mwinilunga. Unfortunately I didn’t have transport to visit him. I have however seen this chief travelling back and forth in the boma since I’ve been here on holiday, and on one occasion he made an appointment to see me, but failed to pitch as he was busy with other things.
Meantime, on this holiday the LORD has taken me through a period of spiritual discipline. By the end of it I said, “Lord, I will never return to Mwinilunga.” The noise of four churches bands playing at maximum level on Sundays and Saturday afternoons – each one playing different songs – where I am living is so unbearable that I am forced to go walking for hours on end until the churches end their services, band practices or simply jamming sessions. On the other hand, one of the churches also uses hand drums and they practice twice a week, and I feel as though my head will explode. After I told the LORD that I will never return to Mwinilunga because of this, He quietly asked me, “But if I asked you to return, would you do so?” I replied, “Of course, but I need those letters of recommendation. If I get them I know it is You who wants me here.”
Then two days ago a World Vision staffer who is also a pastor in the African Pentecostal Methodist Church, who has the Senior Chief’s ear, assisted me to draw up a draft letter to give to the Chief for his perusal and approval. Yesterday we went to the Chief’s palace, 45km away, but it seemed more like 90km because the roads are so bad.
When we arrived, we were first taken to sit on a grass mat under a tree, and a chair for the Chief was brought out. But when the Chief arrived, he asked his sons (youthful chiefs-in-waiting who were being trained in protocol), “Why have you put these people here?” And he instructed them to take us into a special building.
You see, the World Vision guy is very dear to the Chief, for he has assisted the Chief greatly in helping the people in his kingdom. He is so loved for his work that this man is allowed into a special building for an audience with the Chief. Because I was with him and the World Vision guy was there to plead my case, the Chief welcomed me into this building.
Taking his place on his throne, he explained that his sister had just died and he was devastated. They were waiting for the body to be brought to his palace for burial. I apologised that we were disturbing him at such a time. Had we known about this bereavement we would not have come. He replied, “No, but hearing your case may help take my mind of things for a bit.” He welcomed me and invited the World Vision guy to present my case for a letter of recommendation re: an application for a work permit.
The Chief then invited me to speak.
Let me just mention here, this is no ordinary Chief. He is the Chairman of the Chiefs’ Association for the entire province, and he also presents to parliament.
The documents I brought with me were received by one of his attendants and taken to the Chief on his throne. He read through the letter that had been drafted for him to approve for signing, then asked me a few questions. He also advised on changes that should be made to the Department of Agriculture’s letter, in line with government policy. He said that once these changes were made to the draft, the letter should be printed on his personal (governmental) letterhead and returned to him for signing and his official stamp.
Firstly, I was deeply grateful that the Chief was willing to see me despite the loss he felt about the death of his sister. Imagine!
Secondly, the only people allowed to enter his chambers – this building of which I spoke – are Vice Presidents of countries, or corporations, and government ministers. Apart from this, only his closest personal friends and family are allowed in his chambers.
What a privilege I was afforded to be included in this. I am not sure if this is the case, but it seemed to me that the Lord wanted me to know that not only had he provided someone who had the Chief’s ear, but that He supported my quest for these letters of approval. In fact, before I met the World Vision guy the Lord told me to “press in,” and I got the courage to go to World Vision for assistance. And in doing so He provided exactly the right person to escort me to the Chief.
And to establish this approval even more firmly, I was even allowed into the most privileged context in the Chief’s domain, rather than being left outside to sit on a mat (the lowliest position), while the World Vision guy was in the Chief’s Chambers.
This is not a cause for uplifted heart, but rather, an opportunity to wonder at the Lord’s provision and His ultimate purposes.
The draft letter has now been printed on the Chief’s letterhead, and is on its way to his palace to e stamped and signed. All that is necessary thereafter, is to – at some stage (I have to raise the money first … Lord! Please give me a job!) – to return to Lusaka to submit these weighty letters with my application for a work permit.
May the Lord decide what is best.