The story of five young men and one summer long ago

06 Sep, 2011 | Zambia
Anneretha Combrink
Acacia tree at sunset in Mozambique
Sitting under a tree in the yard, trying to shut out the world, 17-year-old Alfred Mpanganyonse closed his eyes. Close by, he could hear singing as the worship meeting started in the school building. When would these people leave the village so he could have peace? thought Alfred. Why did they walk so far anyway—these five young evangelists? They were college students. Didn’t they have better things to do with their summer holidays than walk from village to village during the rainy season?

He, Alfred, could definitely think of many different ways to enjoy life. He would not waste any more of his energy on a God who didn’t care.

“Are you coming tonight, Alfred?” his brother asked, interrupting his thoughts.

He opened his eyes reluctantly. “No. But could you please bring me that pamphlet on Satanism you said they brought with them?”


Alfred was dabbling in witchcraft himself and thought he could learn a few things.

Alfred was not interested in this mumbo-jumbo about “getting saved”. He was very much interested in what he could learn from the pamphlet, though. Apparently the guy who wrote it was a Christian, but he used to be a powerful wizard. Alfred was dabbling in witchcraft himself and thought he could learn a few things.

Reading the pamphlet that night did teach Alfred a few things—but not what he had desired to know.

It was after midnight when the atmosphere in his room changed and he encountered God like never before. Alfred could see two roads before him and realised he had to choose. He heard an almost audible voice say, “This is your last chance.”

Two days later, Alfred prayed with the college students and surrendered his life to God completely.

The change in him was so radical that since then, nothing has been the same.

The change in him was so radical that since then, nothing has been the same. Alfred became a worker with OM and recently returned to Zambia with his wife, Helen, after nine months of international exposure.

This year marks exactly 20 years since God sent those five young men to one of the most remote parts of Zambia to bring a wayward boy home. And how fitting that Alfred ran into Henry Ingwe, one of the students, in Kabwe, Zambia, just a few weeks ago?

They were introduced by the leader of OM Zambia when they realised the connection. Since Henry and Alfred’s first meeting, God had led Alfred to share about Christ’s love in Northern Zambia, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, the Northern Cape of South Africa and in Scotland. The two men had a lot to talk about after 20 years.

Henry confessed after his conversation with Alfred, “It was humbling to see the great things God is doing through his life. This is my pride in the Lord, and I am propelled now to do even more to reach the unreached.”  

What might have happened if those five college students had had better things to do that one summer 20 years ago? And what if Henry Ingwe, the son of a chief, had regarded his status as a prince more important than his status as a child of God through the sacrifice of Christ?

If you ask Alfred Mpanganyonse, he’ll tell you he might have been a Satanist today.

Credit: Anneretha Combrink · © 2011 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OM exists to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.

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