Costa says he was never a fan of hard work. Then he discovered the joy of teamwork, and now he’s unstoppable...
When Costa heard his name announced at church one Sunday he didn’t know what to expect.
The pastor at his church in Huambo province, Angola, told him that he had been selected to join a Church and Community Transformation project supported by Tearfund.
The project aimed to inspire and equip local people to determine their own future with their own resources, and ultimately to work their own way out of poverty. If Costa had fully understood this at the time, he might not have been so keen to join the group. He was, in his own words, lazy, and didn’t enjoy work.
‘I used to ask my father for things, and when he refused I would complain a lot,’ says Costa. ‘I just followed others to church and imitated them. I had no desire or time to read the Bible and no time to help other people’.
Unburying his talents
Costa had joined the project thinking he was going to be given resources. But from the beginning, the course leader taught Costa that the project doesn’t give you material resources. Instead, it encourages you to open your mind and discover your own God-given strengths and resources.
The group began with Bible studies and moved onto team-building activities. They had to light a fire together and work out how to cross a river. It’s similar to the sort of thing you might do on a work team-building day in the UK – for Costa, these activities were a revelation.
It was during the project’s practical sessions that Costa began to understand the importance of working together. ‘It’s not good to work alone. It’s better to work in a team and share ideas,’ he says.
‘Something has changed,’ says Costa. ‘I feel I must help my neighbour. If I have spare things I feel the need to share them with those in need.’ Today, whenever Costa is asked to do a job far from his house, he is ready to serve.
The Bible studies were eye opening too. Costa used to think that the sermons he heard at church were about things that didn’t exist. But later, whenever he followed the message in the sermons, he found there was a desire within him to put the teaching into practice.
Hands of kindness
‘Before, he [Costa] was not brave enough to admit to others that the life he was living was wrong and they should avoid living the same kind of life,’ says Costa’s wife, Miquilina. ‘Since he joined the project, however, he has been serving in the way he always should have done, with the goodwill to help others — even those who live far away.’
Costa says his relationship with his family has changed a lot since joining the project. ‘In the beginning, as with all couples, married life starts well. But after a certain time, the good relationship becomes sour,’ he says.
After following Bible studies that addressed issues facing married couples, Costa recognised that it is his duty to help his wife look after their children, and their relationship has sweetened again.
Together they hope that one day their life won’t be dependent on Costa’s current job. He drives a motorbike taxi – it’s dangerous work and he hopes that he will find a government job or work for a private company.
Costa’s pastor will certainly be able to provide him with a glowing reference now: ‘Costa is one of the most reliable people at church and is always willing to help out,’ he says.
Remember Costa and his family – they are desperate for him to find a new job and have asked for your prayers.
Pray for all the men and women who are spreading this biblical message of empowerment across Africa – that thousands more will find the inner resources to escape poverty.
Find out more about the Church and Community Transformation process which revolutionised Costa’s life and many thousands more like him around the world.