My Journey to Self-Reliance

Growing up Adventist helped me to be financially savvy from a young age. In church I looked forward to hearing the Mission stories during Sabbath School; stories about people helping others in far and distant lands through tithes and offerings given to the church body. I was deeply intrigued to know that my two cents could literally help families on the other side of the ocean. I longed to travel and see those places, but I knew it would takes years to grow up and leave home, so I did whatever I could every time I had pocket money. I remember my mother, very clearly, teaching us to calculate tithe from $1 USD (approximately 10 pula at the time). She also taught us that as the money increases, you adjust your giving accordingly. I must have been nine or ten years old. It was very exciting to receive our receipts from the church treasurer as if they were letters from God! I always kept them carefully and held them in high regard.

Helping others by returning tithes and offerings gave me such an inestimable joy that it really became a part of my identity.

"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7, 8, NIV).

"Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done" (Proverbs 19:17, NIV).

I Need to Make Money

As life progressed and I grew older, I became aware that helping the poor while living in a third-world country would take a lot of money! My parents were strict and made sure we weren't wasteful with anything and always resourceful; giving away our toys and clothes whenever we didn’t need them and giving us little jobs to do on weekends to feel the thrill and appreciate the reward of working.

We lived a modest life in a small remote town. And as I grew up, my longing to travel nagged ever more. I wanted to go to Fiji and Java, Rwanda and Ethiopia, and all the places we read about in the Mission stories! It was then that I realized I had all these desires to accomplish. I need to make money!

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19–21, NKJV).

I always prayed that God would help me achieve my dreams to help others, to be financially independent and travel the world. When I started working I didn't know all the fancy financial terminology we have today. The internet was new. There was no social media, not even YouTube! All I knew was I needed something in my life that would create income continuously without my labor every day. I also understood that I need to save, invest, and share my money. Reading books, brochures, and newspapers and asking my father his opinion on this and that were my sources of information.

Early Decisions

I decided to live at home after college in order to save on rent, much to my parents' delight! In exchange, I would help with chores at home. At night I researched the best available savings and investment options and opportunities, I wrote my goals and plans weekly, and put away as much money as possible.

At church, I had special offerings for ADRA, AWR, Maranatha, and so on. I knew I was very blessed from a young age to still have my parents in my life, so in praise to God, I vowed to help the orphans and needy by my contributions. And I was determined to gain wealth as soon as I could. I was finally on the road to self-reliance!

"For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you" (Deuteronomy 15:6, NKJV).

After my first year of employment, I had saved enough to make a deposit to buy a property. I looked around and soon found someone who was selling at the price I could afford. Now because I was living with my parents, I rented out the property to earn additional income, which is really how I cemented my journey to creating recurring additional passive income. I still had my salary from my job and now was earning rent, which paid off my loan.

After two or three years, I did the same thing. I found another affordable property for sale and got tenants to pay it off through rent. I was able to continue my save, invest, share strategy. A few years later, I left my original job and started a business as a travel agent organizing safaris for people to visit Africa.

Sailing through the Crisis

When COVID hit, my travel business closed down because of lockdowns and border closures. Tourism was dead. No one could do anything. Everything seemed bleak, but guess what? My tenants were all essential workers who were still able to work and pay their rent as usual. So I had my passive income supporting me through lockdowns and I was still able to meet my financial goals even in a crisis.

I felt like Elijah, who was fed by ravens during a great famine. God showed me His grace is more than sufficient to supply all my needs. It is very important to realize that life, just like the weather, happens in seasons. There will be spring, but there will also be fall and winter when everything dies or does not produce. So we need to be prepared for the winter cycle of life by making savings and investments during the spring and summer seasons.

Self-reliance is not only about money. During COVID, we also took time to tend the garden and grow our own vegetables. Soon we had butternuts, cabbage, tomatoes, and green peppers growing and yielding supply. We need to  think of all ways we can grow our own micro economies in our homes, producing food and wealth independently. If you are able to feed your family from your ground, you deserve an applause. That is a form of self-reliance.

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25, NKJV).

"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19, NKJV).

Applying Ikigai

During the quiet months of the COVID-19 lockdown, I noticed everyone was spending a lot of time on their mobile devices for entertainment and inspiration. At the time I was not into social media and wondered how I could use it to my advantage.

The Japanese have a concept called ikigai. Through this process you identify: 1. What you love to do; 2. What you're very good at; 3. What the world needs; and 4. How you can get paid to do it. I realized I love travel and photography. I'm good at making things look good. I noticed a gap in the market and when borders reopened, I started a new business as a social media strategist for hospitality companies. And soon business was booming as hotels and travel services needed new strategies to win customers back and position themselves globally. And there I was to help them make it!

To use the ikigai method, you've got to ask yourself what you have at your disposal. Can you cook and sell delicious food? Can you sow beautiful clothes? Can you fix cars? Can you plait hair? Can you teach people a skill? Can you decorate gardens and landscapes? Do you have a spare room you can rent? Do you speak another language you can teach? These days the world is closer than you think. The use of internet and mobile communications make it easier than ever to find customers and provide services. We need not be limited by old brick and mortar kinds of businesses. And by the way, there is nothing wrong with the old business model if it serves the market. At the end of the day, a business should solve a problem and make you a profit.

“You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day" (Deuteronomy 8:18, NKJV).

As long as we are faithful in small things, we will be entrusted with great things. It’s imperative to teach children and youth the importance of faithfulness to God and also how to earn for themselves from a young age so that they may not depart from it when they grow up. My parents made sure we knew where money and wealth came from before they gave it to us. I can still remember the days I gave 10 cents as tithe, believing God would bless and multiply it. Don't underestimate what the Lord can do through youth.

Pull Quote: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God" (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV).

Dorcas Wellio