One of the things that is so important for the longevity of our ministry is the staff that runs it. I am the first to say that it takes an entire crew of hard working, Jesus loving individuals to make this ship go! The Zambians no doubt are the main reason Arise has the impact it does with the orphaned and vulnerable. I don’t take this for granted the people that God has put in Arise’s path to work together as brother and sisters in Christ to give hope to the hopeless.
With sad/excited hearts we had to say goodbye to one of our original staffers Solomon, who is taking a job with the Zambian government. Although we are so sad to say goodbye we couldn’t be more proud of Solomon’s commitment to his job and the children these past 7 years. Solomon, JOB WELL DONE BRO.
Solomon began working for Arise as an assistant when only three were on staff in Zambia. We had 60 children in sponsorship and no Arise Homes. Solomon climbed the ranks within Arise and never backed down from a new challenge. He was in one of our head leadership positions because of his hard work, humbleness, and character. When he left Arise over 500 children were in sponsorship and twenty were in our full time care. It isn’t easy to work within a ministry with that growth but he did it well.
One time as Solomon was moving to a new position within Arise I announced that he needed to know how to drive and he would be much more productive in an Arise car than taking public transport. Solomon had never driven before and was nervous about it. We sent him to driving school (which did absolutely nothing apparently) and I showed up in Zambia a few weeks later and decided we should go on a test run. We got in our smallest and most crummy car, the Sprinter, and Solomon was at the wheel. As we tried to drive around town I had never been more panicked in my life. It was the most stressful thing I have ever done in Africa and I used to work in war torn countries and have been shot at. This was a million times worse. We were so close to hitting so many people on the street. You don’t realize how many people are on the streets in Africa, until you are almost hitting every one of them. They were jumping off the road into drainage ditches. Solomon drove two miles an hour in the roundabouts and I was pounding on his back yelling for him to floor it as a huge truck was barrelling down behind us laying on it’s horn. I said so many cuss words and was not a good Christian, passenger, or teacher. We finally pulled over and both of us were fine with me taking the wheel.
You know what, after many hours of practice, Solomon drove and drove well! The only accident he ever had was with a pole at the local mall in the parking lot. And whoever designed the Manda Hill Parking garage was a rookie because there is a pole every ten feet! In fact, on his last day at the job, he turned in the Arise Africa car that he had been driving for a few years at that point! We still have the Sprinter, and it is still the worst car we have ever had. We keep it for our new drivers, like our boys in the Arise Homes who are learning right now. Every time someone on staff suggests selling it, I remind them of the Sprinters role, to teach our drivers!
Not only did he grow in his leadership but most importantly, his faith. We all watched Solomon become more mature and sure in his love for the Lord. Not only was this encouraging to the children he worked with but to all of us as well! It was a great example!
One of the most important things I can do as Executive Director of Arise is encourage our staff and point them to Christ. That is sometimes hard to do and I am the first to admit I think more about funding or other things. I am not as good as I should be. The people who interact with our children daily and are doing the hardest work in the ministry better be fed though.
In the last few days as he was working for Arise Solomon sent us an email that was really encouraging. He said,
" I want to thank you from deep down my heart for entrusting me with the duties and responsibilities of Child Sponsorship Director over the past two year. This has helped me grow in a number of areas as a leader and also on a personal level as well. I will forever be grateful for all your love, care, support and discipleship your have rendered to me through out the last 7 years that I have been with Arise Africa. I am so proud to have been a part of this wonderful and God sent family of Arise Africa. Working with Arise Africa has helped me grow close to God and greatly helped in my walk with the Lord. I will continue to pray for God's wisdom and direction as you and the others continue in doing God’s work.”
This is what the body of Christ is supposed to be. Solomon, you were a part of that body. You were a part of discipling all of us and caring for us too! You encouraged us, and pushed us to Christ and I thank you for that.
Although it is sad to see Solomon leave, I can’t help but be excited for his future with his new wife and job. I can’t help but smile and think we know a REALLY GREAT guy out there that is still a friend, still on fire for the Lord, and is going to be a game changer for the country of Zambia. And as I said to him, we are always family, we are always here and we will never be strangers to one another.
Go well Solomon and we love you so much!