By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
In 2005, Larry Waye, who serves on the Mission Board at Decatur Baptist Church in Decatur, had a chance to visit Zambia, and as is always the case with American believers who visit believers in Africa, Larry was forever changed. I sat down with him recently at the Athens State University Launch Box on the courthouse square to hear of some of his adventures on the mission field. We swapped tales and had to stop and pause from time to time because it is just so emotional to reflect upon the beauty of people who by worldly standards have nothing materially, yet are wildly wealthy in the things that matter the most: the King and the Kingdom. Besides doing entrepreneurial incubator development work as a consultant (including at the ASU Launch Box), Larry founded Grace and Truth International, (graceandtruthint.org), a non-profit to assist foreign missions. What makes them unique is that they only fund projects, never salaries. Larry has also started business incubators in Africa. He and his interpreter from 2005, Brian Kayoma through a Malawi-based NGO called Rise Care Foundation, have helped procure farm land, start a farm, grow crops, start a pre-school, and there is a Bible school there that uses the curriculum of North Star Bible Institute. Brian also has started local soccer teams as a way of ministering to the kids.
I also want to tell you about a wonderful, free-to-the-public Christmas Concert featuring the King’s Brass that will be held on December 1 with a goal of raising money for projects benefitting orphans in Malawi, and more details regarding the concert will be forthcoming a little later in this article. But first, some stories.
Larry has made about 24 trips to Africa, and has participated in everything from teaching and training at ministerial conferences to helping a birthing clinic have light in their facility for the first time. In 2005, when Larry met Brian, they instantly clicked as only brothers in Christ can do, and Larry knew he wanted to help Brian with his desire to move across the border from Zambia to Malawi and minister there. One of the things Larry noticed while at that first conference was that the men who literally lived in the bush and walked many miles to get there would attend sessions with sparkling white dress shirts that were perfectly ironed, and that sported crisp creases on the sleeves that looked like they had just been picked up from the cleaners. Larry asked Brian how that was possible, and Brian explained, “They find metal that has an edge, and rig a handle to it. Then they heat it up in the fire, and they lay the shirt out on a rock to iron it.” Brian also mentioned that the shirts had been washed by hand in the nearest creek.
On another occasion, Larry had the chance to help a birthing clinic have light for the very first time. It was a cinder block building with no power, and two windows were kept open in order to provide some cross ventilation that would hopefully engender a bit of a breeze to bring relief from the heat for a laboring mother. The walls had no paint, just layers of lime, and before installing the solar light system, Larry and his crew scraped the lime off the walls. They sealed the walls, put on some coats of paint to cheer up the place, and when it was time to show the midwife her new “office digs,” Larry demonstrated how to turn the light switch on and off. The midwife began to dance around the room and praise God. She was beside herself with joy, as up until that point, she was used to delivering babies born at night with just…one…candle!
Enter the King’s Brass, the folks who are going to give the concert to help make it possible for projects like the one I just described actually happen. They came to Decatur Baptist, and Larry became friends with Tim Zimmerman, who heads up the band of professional musicians. For several years, the King’s Brass has toured in the summer and during Christmas to help raise funds for missions. “These guys are really good,” Larry told me, and several of them are music educators. They also perform on cruise ships, and you can learn more about them at kingsbrass.org.
The concert will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 1 at Decatur Baptist Church. There will be a love offering taken, and you don’t want to miss this. See you there!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner