A STEWARD, A MISSION, AND A TREE
Nine hundred people were being baptized, all wading into a leaky make-shift swimming pool in Zambia. One man stood beside the pool, using his cell phone to take pictures of dozens of the candidates. The man is Stain Musungaila, a layman in Livingstone’s Falls View Church, and an executive with Sun Hotels, Zambia. Stain, a man whose passion is Jesus, and who is in the process of planting his fourth church.
Every morning I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and pray for about 45 minutes. I ask Jesus to direct me to someone I should talk with or something else He wants me to do that day. My to do list comes from my prayer.”
Why are you taking pictures of so many people?”
“These are people I’ve studied the Bible with, and I’m taking their pictures so I can remind them of the decision they made for Jesus today!” “Let me tell you how it works,” Stain says. “Every morning I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and pray for about 45 minutes. I ask Jesus to direct me to someone I should talk with or something else He wants me to do that day. My to do list comes from my prayer.”
Have you always been a Christian?
No. My life was the best, but I had never been inside a church. I went to Europe, loved the ships and sailed around the world as a catering boss. I lived to make money, and thought if you didn’t have money you were just lazy. In 1981 I returned to Zambia and was in charge of food and beverages for a large chain of 5-star resorts. Just a phone call and everything could be on my plate. Church was only for poor people.
How did God find you?
My wife was born of an Adventist family, but I had nothing to do with God. I would come home drunk, and the security guards would open the gate and find me sleeping in my car. Whenever I would see a Christian I would say, “Get out of my way, you lazy person!” I had a hangover one night and didn’t want to drive too far. So I stopped and walked in to an evangelistic meeting that was being held in the hotel. A big choir was singing “There’s power in the blood of Jesus!” I had never heard any such thing. Then a doctor spoke about high blood pressure and food. She was talking about MY JOB! What kind of church is this, I thought, that talks about my job? I listened and then went home—but kept quiet about it.
Did your wife notice anything?
She encouraged me. I saw her book about healthy living. I started to read because it was talking about my job. I read that book three times! I asked my wife if the book had something to do with the church she attended sometimes. She said yes, and that sometime she might take me along.
Did you go?
Yes, and the pastor was preaching about me. “Jesus loves me” he preached. The pastor was speaking, but Jesus was talking to me like I was the only person there. I joined the baptismal class and stayed there for three and a half years. Remember, I came from nowhere and knew nothing.
What did you learn, and what changed as you began to obey?
I only learned one word: “Obedience.” By God’s grace I was completely changing, giving up my cigars, my whiskey, everything! But all I learned the doctrines, the stories, the music everything was only talking about one thing: obedience. I lost everything except my family, my Bible, and a pair of sandals. I was totally poor!
It sounds like God gave you a few Job years.
Yes. The pastor and elders told me the story of Job and said, “Maybe these things you were accumulating were not in God’s favor. Or, maybe God is telling you something.” So I asked my wife why this God had brought me poverty. She began to cry and I told her that it seemed that my notion before I became a Christian was true: “Christians are supposed to be poor people!” Now I’d lost everything except my sandals. I deposited my children with friends. Then my friends started to run away from me because I no longer had anything to offer them. It was very hard.
What did you think about during those Job Days?
I remembered how I had treated church people in my old life. When they approached me in my office they would beg for a few Kwacha and I would shout, “Get out you lazy bum!” Now I was in that same position. I could not afford even 100 Kwacha! That’s when all the old memories came back. My old friends, the ones who used to drink with me, now ran away. When I called them they would tell me they could help me “next week.” But “next week” never came. I had powerful friends: vice-presidents of banks, leaders, politicians, but now their secretaries wouldn’t even let me come near them.
You couldn't pay the rent and your van was broken. Useless.
God spoke to me right then. One night while we were praying as a family, my second-born child drew a small diagram. It was the logo of the Sun Hotel in Livingstone. He wrote my name on top of the diagram and said, “Everything’s okay. Daddy is going to get a job at this hotel in Livingstone.” I laughed and did not believe it.
You became a taxi driver?
“If you are the real God,” I said, “I’m not giving up. You have to demonstrate to me who you are!”
A very bad one! We had been given a terrible, rusty, broken van that would not run at all. My brother offered to repair it, and when it was running, I tried to start a small taxi businesssleeping in the van when I had no lifts. “If you are the real God,” I said, “I’m not giving up. You have to demonstrate to me who you are!” That’s when the van broke down 70 kilometers from town. I was stuck again. I cried to God about how I couldn’t go back to my brother and ask for money. I couldn’t go to my family and tell them I was a failure. I called loudly to God for help!
How did God answer your call?
God made me remember some of the trainees I had trained at hotels in Livingstone. Maybe one of them might help me, I thought. So I got to Livingstone and found one of them. My van is broken, I told him. Ah, no problem, he said. “Would you like a cigar?” “No, I don’t smoke.” “Would you like some whiskey?” “No, I don’t drink.” “What has happened to you?” “I have stopped everything,” I told him. “Everything?” he asked. “Everything.” “God bless you,” he said. “What do you want?” “My van has a problem,” I said. “I will organize a mechanic for you,” he answered.
Part of getting your van repaired included an offer of a new job.
Yes. I met an old friend from my catering days who told me he had been looking for me. Another of my old friends wanted to talk. I didn’t want to see him, so I didn’t go. Not the first day, not the second day, but on the third day I finally decided that maybe I ought to go and see him. “Here,” he said as he pushed a paper across the desk. “Here is an application form. Would you please put your name there!” “No,” I said. “I do not want this kind of job.” “Yes,” he said. “We want you to take this job.” And that is the story of how I got this job as Director of Corporate Services for the Sun Hotels in Zambia. Immediately my life started to improve – and I started looking for a church. Not just any church, I wanted a church that was not under a roof. I had so much knowledge in me that I needed to share, and maybe I could help in a small church under a tree.
A church under a tree?
I found one right away in Livingstone. And I called my family and told them all about it.
You still had no money. How did you pay for them to come and join you?
“No,” I said. “I do not want this kind of job.” “Yes,” he said. “We want you to take this job.” And that is the story of how I got this job as Director of Corporate Services for the Sun Hotels in Zambia."
I didn’t. God did. They prayed, asking God to provide a way for them to come to Livingstone. Then they tied all their stuff into luggage, and my wife went out and stood by the road, asking for transport. Finally a truck stopped and offered her a lift. “I’ll tell you the truth,” she said, “I have a family and I have luggage, but I have no money.” The driver laughed and asked how much money she really had. “Only a few small Kwacha,” she answered. “That will be enough,” he answered. “At 5 a.m. the next morning I heard a horn outside, dashed out the door and found my family tumbling out of the truck!” The first thing they said was, “Daddy, we want to see the church under the tree!” They didn’t care about my job, didn’t want to see the hotel, just wanted to see the church under the tree.
You’re now beginning your fourth church under a tree. What’s next?
As God gives me resources again, those riches are being used only for His work. Look, I have seen all that this world has. Now I only want to get His directions and go where I find souls to be won for Jesus. That excites me! I am going to heaven, what more could I want here?