A new way of thinking
Zambia | OM International“Don´t feel at home, be at home!” is what Melvin Chiombe, OM Zambia Director, would say to you in greeting upon arrival at the OM base in Kabwe. His open smile and heart for missions were his best “credentials” when he met Associate Director of OM Africa, Coen Scholtz, in 1999 in a town in northern Zambia.
Today Melvin leads a team from Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, UK, Germany, US and Papua New Guinea. He oversees a discipleship and missions training programme, two community schools in the villages of Makwati and Nakoli, a number of other OM ministries and the building of a new base located just outside Kabwe.
Melvin has learnt to trust the Lord in many practical ways since he accepted the call of God for his life. He found it especially difficult to face his people´s traditional mindset about missions.
“Missions is a new thing for Africans,” says Melvin. “It’s a whole new way of thinking to not be at the receiving end anymore, but rather at the sending one.”
But when Melvin first resigned as a paid pastor to join missions, he and his family struggled to depend on God’s provision through financial supporters; however, they’ve seen God work through these uncertainties.
“Suffering ... it´s not about that,” he says calmly. There will always be highlights and lowlights for those who serve God, he explains, so you shouldn´t make too much of any of them. Every good thing comes from our Lord—not from us—so we have to learn to “serve sacrificially”, which he says means going beyond our human certainties, clinging by faith only to Jesus and His Word wherever He may lead. “We serve in that way because we appreciate His love,” says Melvin, meditatively.
Melvin, his wife and four children, Bwalya (15), Natasha (12), Joshua (4) and Blessed (2), have seen God take special care of them on several occasions. He cites as an example the rental of the OM base: Many times they didn’t have enough to pay the rent, yet through the provision of unknown donors, the money has always come through.
In March, 2011 the Lord gave the family a car, which they needed to travel to the different ministries. Someone sent them an envelope with the keys inside; the vehicle was parked in front of their house. With the keys was a note saying, “This is a blessing from God. Use it. Don´t bother to find out who is giving it to you.” Unfortunately the car was stolen a few months later in Lusaka when armed robbers poisoned the dogs, tampered with the electric wall fence, broke the gate lock, cut the steering lock and took the vehicle. Afterward, Natasha said to her father: “No worries Dad; no one can steal God´s miracle!” Not long after, God provided again through unexpected means for a new vehicle.
In spite of challenges, Melvin is a man of faith who, over the course of his time with OM, has seen 10 groups of mission students graduate and become involved in missions*.
He believes it is possible for Africans to do missions, but they need to have a paradigm shift in their thinking and doing. “You cannot put new wine in old skins because they will burst; that´s why in this emerging mission movement they should have a whole new mindset,” Melvin continues.
He is passionate about seeing Africans rising to the challenge of sending and supporting missionaries, especially to the least reached people groups of the world, and seeing nations worshipping the Lord. “Once we step out by faith God takes care of the rest. What is important is to be in the perfect will of God.”
He gives thanks to God for the journey the Lord has taken him on and advises people wanting to go into missions to make sure they have heard correctly from God. “It´s not easy,” he says, “but it is very exciting to really learn to trust God for everything!”
*Read the story of Charles who wanted to be a technician but has instead become involved in social work with his community through OM Zambia’s sports ministry. Click here.