John’s Taxi

June 1982 – April 1983
When events became challenging, John became a very devout Christian.  He could literally pray up a storm, and it didn’t much matter where he prayed, because God heard him anywhere, didn’t he?  So, one day as I was working in the living room, I listened to a long, drawn-out stream of prayer.  Not only did God hear John, but all the neighbors as well.  I was a little worried – had I committed some atrocity.  I mean, the African concept of fairness is not always in alignment with our western culture.
After quite some time, the commotion ceased, I heard a motor go into full gear, gears crunch, the guards running to the gate to open it as a car sped out of our compound.  Fortunately, whatever the commotion was about, the gates remained in tact.  It was always a bit of a worry if the gates should be crashed, because then we had no protection.
Eventually John came in.  Very serious.  Hands clasped and eyes reverting to heaven now and again.  I should not have asked, but I couldn’t resist.  “What was all the palaver about, John?  I heard you praying.  What did you want God to do?”
John looked at me very sternly and then launched into the trials and tribulations of a good Christian man – himself, of course.  I knew that John was one of the wealthier stewards and had with the help of his previous employer, bought a car which he used as a taxi.  John could not drive a car himself, so he hired a driver.  Apparently, the driver was pocketing some of the profits and John was left with the costs of maintaining the car, paying for the fuel and paying the driver a weekly salary.  Now it appeared that the car was in need of repairs and “that cheater,” as John explained,  had kept most of the money and John had no money for repairs.  Hmm.  I knew from experience what was coming.  Could he have a loan?  I suggested that he pray a little harder and, perhaps find another driver who was a bit more honest.  I had already been warned that John never had enough “Kobos” to maintain the car.  When there was a bit of an income from the taxi, instead of saving the money, John spent it on small luxuries.  I explained to him that he needed to make a budget and I would help him.  I would also help him keep track of his expenses and income.  Well, he looked at me rather dubiously and I could tell he most certainly was not going to have some woman look over his shoulder and advise him on his finances.  I explained to him unless he was willing to involve me in his business ventures, he would have to rely on God alone and see if God would give him a loan.  It wouldn’t have broken the bank if we had given him a loan, but knowing the local mentality, and, of course, heeding the advice of our Danish friend, Henning, this would only be the continuation of a series of loans, none of which would/could ever be repaid.  Besides, another one of his mothers had died, and he had gone to his village to prepare a lavish funeral feast – of course he had to have 10 days to 2 weeks off, we had to pay for the trip and loan him money for the feast.
I think the matter resolved itself or maybe God interceded, because the taxi kept running and John mentioned it no more.