MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–If two missionaries join in ministry, God can expand that ministry to affect a host of people. But when those two missionaries are fathers, sometimes the people affected also may be closer to home.
Terry Veazey, a Southern Baptist evangelist and current vice president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, has been traveling around the globe in missions since the early 1970s, training local pastors and evangelists in effective ministry and evangelism.
Alex Govati, a local pastor in Blantyre, Malawi, also has sought to be a missionary in his African homeland.
In 1997, Veazey traveled to Malawi for the first time and appointed Govati as the national coordinator for Terry Veazey Ministries. Unbeknownst to them, this meeting was the catalyst that would drastically change the future of Govati’s son, Kingstone.
During his initial stay in Malawi, Veazey met Kingstone Govati for the first time. He said he was immediately struck by his “sweet spirit.”
Although Veazey visited Malawi several times in succeeding years, he did not work extensively with Kingstone until a visit in 2004 — the same year that Veazey’s son, Luke, started school at the Baptist-affiliated University of Mobile in Alabama.
“At that time, I felt impressed by the Lord to see if Kingstone would be interested in coming to America,” Veazey recounted. “I felt he would benefit from an education in the USA.”
That decision couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for Govati. After all his available college funds had dried up in 2004, it appeared he had no choice but to remain in his native Blantyre, Malawi, without a chance to finish his schooling. The chances for a postsecondary education in Malawi are extremely small — competition is fierce for the limited openings in the few universities. Even for those who get accepted, finding the funding is difficult in a country where 55 percent of the population reportedly is below the poverty line. Veazey sensed that the University of Mobile would be the right place for Govati to get that education, if he chose.
“I’m really impressed with the University of Mobile,” Veazey said, citing the positive impact it had had on his son’s life. “God is working through the university to shape young people who are going to impact the world for Christ.”
Luke, a church music major at the university, developed a friendship with Govati when they met on a mission trip to Zambia. Veazey appreciated the peace of mind an established friendship could bring a new student in a new country.
The Lord worked out all the arrangements from there, Veazey said. Upon returning to the United States, he asked University of Mobile President Mark Foley to prayerfully consider a scholarship for Kingstone.
Veazey heard back one month later from Foley and the soccer program at the university. They offered Govati a joint scholarship that covered nearly all his expenses.
Govati said he and his family were very grateful for the scholarship and the opportunity it would give him.
“I was like, ‘How could that happen to us?’ We knew it was God’s goodness. I know it’s a lot of money,” Govati said. “I just don’t know how to express it, but we just feel so thankful to God and to the university.”
Despite his excitement, traveling so many thousands of miles from home was difficult and emotional. He was leaving behind a tightly knit family that included his parents, nine siblings and various in-laws.
“At the airport when the flight arrived, everyone cried, and everyone was looking at us. It was as if it was a funeral,” he said.
But Govati knew the trip would be incredibly worthwhile. He arrived at the university last August. Govati now has a double major in accounting and Christian studies and also plays soccer for the school.
Govati said that after he graduates he wants to go back to Africa, where many of the nations suffer from a severe shortage of skilled labor, including Malawi. A degree, especially in accounting, virtually guarantees Govati a profitable job.
And although he feels he has not yet been called to fulltime ministry, Govati said he’s not ruling it out as a possibility.
“I might be called. I’m ready,” he said.
Even if Govati is not called into fulltime service, he said he plans to do missions work on the weekends or whenever he isn’t working in accounting.
“In the world, there are people who have heard, but there are a lot of people who haven’t yet heard and haven’t yet been saved. Jesus said we should make disciples. They will follow what God wants, and they will also tell others. They will fish. They will be fishermen of people,” he said.
Govati explained that there are plenty of unreached people on his native continent. He said there are also a variety of opportunities to minister.
“I think of a lot of things. Each and every minute I think of it, I think of another thing to do,” he said. “I’ve been working with my daddy a long time, and I learn a lot of things from him.
“In Africa, you can take the ‘JESUS’ film and borrow a projector from a certain Christian organization. If you go into villages and tell people you are going to show that, people will come,” he said. “You can’t imagine how many people come to watch those movies. Sometimes, though, you can’t take a lot of equipment; you just go straight into other areas. And people who haven’t yet heard of Christ, sometimes they are so interested. They’ve never heard anything like that.”
He even uses his favorite sport to minister to fellow Africans.
“In Africa, soccer is the most popular sporting activity. When people hear there is soccer, they will come. You can preach to those people. All the players on your team should know Christ so everyone on that team can do that. Also, you play with them with love,” Govati said.
“If you show them love even in the course of playing, God can use that. They will say to themselves, ‘If they can be playing this way, to know Christ is something good,'” he continued.
And showing love makes it easy to share. Govati said that just as believers across the nation showed during Hurricane Katrina, if you help someone, “you can use that to preach to him, and he will find it easy to listen to you. You can win a lot of souls with what you’ve done.”
Annie Brito is the assistant director of public relations for the University of Mobile.