In Malawi, Africa, two days walk from the nearest city is a region of small villages where the outcasts live. Too close to the city to have rural farming traditions, too far away to have any economic ties to the city. Pastor Tom Mambo says he and his congregation are known in Malawi as "the worst of the worst."
The villages do not even have names, just a number: Area 50, for example.
In the winter of 2011-2012, Pastor Tom Mambo contacted CURE Ministries International and became instrumental in the development of a course to encourage the body of Christ to fulfill The Great Commission. He lived the message he was teaching and the poor people in area 50 started to witness the power of God working in his family and ministry. Tom began to pray that a live conference would happen in Area 50. He was laughed at, "Nobody comes here!"
We visited the Areas in 2014, God having connected Heart For God Ministries with CURE Ministries though a series of indescribable "coincidences." Tom's prayer for a conference became a reality. Astonishingly, 100 Area village pastors come together to be taught God's Word.
We were the first white pastors to ever set foot in the region. Our conference was in two tattered tents, rented from the Malawian Army. Pastors came in from miles around, and slept in the tent at night so they could hear Bible teaching from two Mzungu (white guys). These were men and women who had been called by God, yet many didn't even have a full Bible; some just had a tattered fragment.
A pastor living in the Areas chooses a life of abject poverty, ministering to those who probably haven't had a meal for days. The congregation comes to church with nothing to give, asking questions that only God can answer, "We are trusting that God will provide, but when, Pastor? When?"
They subsist on Sima, corn flour boiled to a consistency of Cream of Wheat. It is a good day when you eat one bowl of Sima. Rice and beans are a luxury rarely consumed in the Areas.
When we left in 2014 every Pastor had a new Bible in their local language, fully fed, both with food and The Word. I can't recall ever receiving that many hugs in my life, and I don't know when I shed that many tears of love and humility. Pastor Tom had a new laptop, and minutes on his track phone.
Our ministry returned in 2016. Some things had changed. The poverty had not changed, but Pastor Tom had assumed a leadership role now with his network of Area pastors. They met regularly to encourage one another and teach each other. The leadership of CURE Ministries was passed to Pastor Tom and Caroline and they were teaching the course on The Great Commission to hundreds of pastors throughout Africa and the world.
The widows ministry had taken off and now widows (shunned by society-the worst of the worst amongst the worst of the worst) were getting taught regularly through skype teachings from the US. Tom was using the business coaching from us and after one micro-funded business failed, the next was poised to succeed.
In 2017, we were able to get funds raised through a number of churches to bring Pastor Tom and his wife Caroline here to the US to raise awareness and funds for his ministry and region. Once again, everyone laughed at Tom when he told them he might go to the US. "Nobody from here goes anywhere, especially the US."
Several nights ago, around our dinner table, Bishop Mambo (over 60 pastors look to Tom to lead them-they call him Bishop now) answered our continuing, probing questions. We spent hours talking about the egg business--it is doing very well! 100 chickens producing about 90-100 eggs per day.
Having a Area pastor run a small business is revolutionary. The business supports the pastor and family, and supports the ministry. Tom is proving the concept for other pastors. Our intention is to teach other pastors to do the same. Through micro financing a small business, the pastors can survive and have a healthy congregation by employing them in the business. Tom has employed the unemployable in the egg business: the widows. They feed the chickens, clean the coop, gather the eggs and distribute them to eight market stands.
We strategized how to expand large enough to start doing the impossible: supply eggs into the city. We went through every detail, and it will work. It will take another $2,500 in capital to expand. It will employ more widows and provide a greater income to the congregation! Three years ago Tom and Caroline started as willing students in business and have now turned into a very good business people.
We turned the conversation to his church, "Where do you meet?"
We knew the building. They call it "the school." Although children gather there, the school functions more as a place of baby-sitting. This structure would remind you of a burned out, one story building in the barrio. Worse. Dirt floors, partly roofed.
We ventured to the "thinking big" topic: the cost to build a church. A real church, with brick walls, a cement floor and a real waterproof roof to keep the rain out in monsoon season, a projector to go with the laptop so the people could see the Word of God on the wall, speakers so they could hear the preacher (or teacher here in the US) via Skype.
The cost of the land and the cost to build a 60'x40' church is just $5,000! The congregation would do all of the work, including making the bricks. The other items are extra, and we would like to get the projector and speakers here before they go back. Furthermore, we would like to give Tom some room in the budget to provide food for a number of months for all of his congregation while the expanded egg business matures (the expectation is that the business will supply food in the future).
I went to sleep that night sad. When a man of God sits at your table, a man you know and love and trust with your life (indeed I did when I was there), tells you that it will cost $5000 to build him a church, and you can't do it for him...
More than a church, it will be the only conference center in the Areas so the pastors can meet. During the week it will be a school where the congregation can teach the children.
One man and his wife, Tom and Caroline Mambo, have been called. They have been called to change a community and beyond. How can we be part of this miracle?
My daughter said, "Go Fund Me."
Could we we do this together? The first real church in the region. Food for starving Christians. Could we be the hands and feet of Jesus, together?
You have our promise, every nickel will be used exactly as described in this post:
$5,000 for Land and Building of the Church
$1,200 for Projector and Speakers
$1,200 for Food for the Congregation
$2,500 to Expand the Egg Business
Jack Hicks, CURE Ministries
Randy Loubier, Heart For God Ministries
Ben Paquin, Heart For God Ministries
To meet Go Fund Me requirements we have added this summary.
Who you are: Our names are just above.
Where you're from: Ben and I (Randy) are in NH, Jack is in PA.
Your relationship to the parties you're raising funds for: We are related ministries. Tom Mambo has assumed leadership of CURE Ministries. We personally know Tom Mambo through two excursions to Area 50, where we spent 14 hours a day ministering to people together for two weeks at a time. As well, we had Tom and Caroline Mambo come here to the US for 6 weeks. They lived in our homes, preached in our churches, ministered on the streets with us. In addition, between the three of us, we have been in frequest contact with Tom since 2012.
How the funds will be spent (be specific as possible): that is found just above this summary.
How you intend to get the funds to those in need: we monitor closely every step of every project. I have a strong corporate finance background including auditing (you can google my name, Randy Loubier, and you will know almost more about me than my mother). I am a geek so Tom reports numbers on a spreadsheet I devised along with pictures and status updates to us frequently. When the funds are needed for each phase we send the funds via bank transfer.
If you have any questions you may always reach out to us via email. Again, google my name.