Realizing the need for biblical role models, OM partnered with a local church to send a couple, Kelvin and Florence, to Crocodile Island as missionaries.
“I love people on this island so much,” said Kelvin Chibuye, explaining why he wanted to stay on Crocodile Island when so many others have refused to go due to the isolation as well as the danger of the water.
It has been challenging, but the Chibuye family has grown even more in love with the village as they see God working through their obedience to stay.
Crocodile Island, which is shaped like a crocodile, is an island that consists of four different fishing villages on Lake Tanganyika. There is one community school and no clinic on the island, which is a half-hour public boat ride away from Mpulungu, the main town on the Zambian side of the lake. If one misses the boat, the only way to town is by paddling three hours. The people on the island are known to hold tight to witchcraft for fishing, successful businesses and physical protection.
There were churches on the island, but no pastor was willing to stay and help the people grow spiritually. Occasionally, pastors would visit on a Sunday to preach, but without a strong Christian influence, the issues of witchcraft, polygamy and drunkenness were still common in the churches. Realizing the need for biblical role models, OM partnered with a church in Mpulungu to send a local couple, Kelvin and Florence, to Crocodile Island as missionaries in 2016.
At first, the Headman of the village was not open to receiving the couple. He couldn’t believe that outsiders would be willing to stay on the island with a pure motive of sharing God’s love and truth. “The Headman said that he would beat us until we explained why we wanted to stay,” said Howard Sichilima, an OM worker who first surveyed the village. Understanding the need for a spiritual breakthrough from God, the OM team went with Kelvin to fast and pray on the island before they officially moved in.
The couple wants to make sure that people from all backgrounds have a chance to experience the love of God. They don’t want people to just attend church but experience a real transformation from God in all areas of their lives. From house visits to youth and children’s ministry, leadership development to Self Help Groups, they make sure people on the island have opportunities to grow. Every night, there is Bible study and prayer time at their house that is open to all on the island.
In the beginning, people were skeptical about the couple and some even tried to stop their work. Kelvin and Florence always seek to love their neighbors. As a result, people have started to ask for prayer. One neighbor who originally was sent to teach about Islam on the island came to know Jesus himself.