This year Christa and I will pass the 35-year milestone in our service with AFnet. And so, reflecting back upon the many places that we’ve lived and worked, we were amazed at how far and wide we’ve actually also traveled in this time. Starting out on our journey back then, we could not have imagined where following Jesus would take us. In hindsight, and in spite of many difficulties and struggles along the way, it’s been a journey that we’ve enjoyed.
Looking at a world map, and realizing that we’ve set foot on 6 continents; criss-crossing the Globe from Alaska to New Zealand, Denmark to Argentina, and from Burkina Faso to Zimbabwe, setting foot in 134 countries of the world, it will be difficult to reconstruct the flight miles covered during our ministry carreer. However, thinking about ground transportation over the past 20 years that we’ve been back in Africa, a quick calculation showed that we’ve driven over a million miles, and still counting!
Traveling across Africa has been hard and fun, exciting but scary, challenging yet magnificently scenic in splendor and beauty. Rough as some roads can be, there’s always something new and potentially exciting around the next corner – perhaps a dilapidated wooden bridge that has to be inspected to figure out whether we’ll actually make it across. Where the tar is so torn up and pot-holed that roads are absolutely impassable, you just drive on the shoulder. Where there are no bridges, there usually is some sort of Ferry to carry one across the river at a price. And where roads are well maintained chances are good that one will have to pay toll.
Crossing borders and negotiating police and military roadblocks can be frustrating. Open bribery is common practice in many countries. I’ve had an AK47 stuck in my face many a time. We’ve been delayed and arrested for the simplest of offences, such as not having the right decal sticker on a vehicle. Things can be crazy like that at times. But over-all the people are beautiful and helpful. Getting stuck in the mud – no problem. Quickly there’ll be a throng eagerly willing to push one out. Once in Malawi the ramp onto a Ferry was broken. Quickly thirty-some people showed up and literally picked up our vehicle and lifted it onto the Ferry. That’s Africa!
Planning is an important aspect of travel. Every day, and every route is carefully planned to make sure one doesn’t get stuck somewhere without fuel, food or accommodation. Unlike the West, there aren’t fast food outlets, motels and gas stations around “every” corner. And so we usually have to carry with our own accommodations, food and extra gas, when traveling into the hinterland. Strikingly, there are people everywhere. And, fortunately Africans are among the most hospitable on earth. So, in the event of crisis one can literally stop by any village and expect to be helped.
Given these realities of travel, it’s important then that the Mission’s vehicles remain reliable. As has happened to us, breaking down in the middle of nowhere can be challenging. A few times we’ve had to go and collect a broken-down vehicle, and tow it back – twice over a thousand miles. That is neither easy nor fun! Therefore, with the AFnet Mini-Van now getting to an age and mileage, where it needs to be replaced, we’d like to present this need to you, our supporters and friends. Without compromising your regular giving towards orphan support and/or towards the leadership training and church planting programs, we like to ask each one of you to consider a special gift towards replacing our primary ministry vehicle – the Toyota Quantum Mini-bus. Kindly go to the DONATE BUTTON and designate your special gift toward the Vehicle Fund!” Your contribution will make a difference!
Johan and Christa CombrinckDownload this Newsletter