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Innovative Ministry in Zimbabwe – Dave Fortescue

Author: David Davolt
Published on: June 3, 2021

Professors that cared made a difference that led to
INNOVATIVE ministry in Zimbabwe.

Growing up in Zimbabwe in a war-torn environment, as the son of a businessman, a young man 13 years out of college who owned his own small electrical business – had deep instilled feelings about life. Those feelings would change abruptly once he experienced life in America.

Attending Boise Bible College was an eye-opening personal experience for him. Perhaps the biggest take-away for this young man from Africa, in his words was, “The Boise Bible environment liberated me from racialism, the college was a place where I saw no racialism. My peers accepted everyone as they were, not based on color.”

David Fortescue came to Boise Bible College to learn more about God and His Kingdom, not really knowing what he was committing to. The school was small, only about 110 students when he arrived, and that led to close relationships with his peers and the nine professors. He remembers how much the professors invested in all the students.

He scraped up funds to attend Boise Bible College by selling his small electrical business and came to America short on enough funds to complete one year without help. He didn’t qualify immediately for any academic scholarships as the British scoring system didn’t match up with the GPA system here. In his first semester, he went to work in the cafeteria washing dishes and earned $1,000 towards tuition. He applied himself well the first semester, proving to himself that even after 13 years out of school, he was able to earn a 3.76 GPA! This gave him a 40% reduction in his tuition costs, and he was ecstatic. To keep the scholarship, he needed to maintain a 3.25 GPA over the next four years, which he did. He graduated in 2003 with a BS degree, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.56 CGPA. Not bad for one out of school for so many years!

He has interesting memories of his time at Boise Bible College. His first semester, his roommate was marched off in handcuffs for having stolen a computer from a home for children where he was raised. Then Dave preceded to work for the home and get enough money to pay for the rest of his schooling. At the Hope House, he would work up to 45 hours per week and taking 12-15 credits each semester. Dave said, “I was humbled under this load as I plodded relentlessly through the process. I have come to find ministry is very much like this; one must humble oneself to press through the valleys, knowing that Christ my Lord is always with me, even when I am weak.”

The systems at Boise Bible were much different from what Dave had grown up within the British education system in Zimbabwe. Having the assignments given at the beginning of a semester and the due dates was not what he was used to. As he looks back, he sees how learning this way and planning ahead has helped him be innovative in his ministry.

Life After Boise Bible College

Today a part of his ministry involves teaching Bible studies to poor folk in outlining villages. It didn’t take long to realize he couldn’t just teach with words without showing them through projects some of the answers they needed. He says that to introduce folks to the concept of “Be Blessed,” he needs to help bless them. Recently at the end of a Bible study, a woman commented, “I don’t know what to cook with my “sadza” for my family tonight?” That reminded Dave, once again, how important his projects are to the people he is serving. Showing them how to raise goats and chickens or to grow crops more efficiently, brings home the blessings of life.

He creates ideas on paper, finds markets, engages the folk to take part, and helps these ideas come alive in the lives of the amazing folk he lives with and serves. Dave had done many innovative projects, including growing flowers to export the seed, raising goats for milk and food, growing “moringa leaf” (this is an organic leaf full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals used to cure many ailments), and chili production. He is always thinking up new ideas to get more people involved. Dave attributes his innovative thinking to the innovative thinking I learned while at Boise Bible. All these opportunities give him a chance to present the living gospel.

The community at Boise Bible taught him much about life. The professors invited him countless times for fun evenings in their homes, eating pizza and playing games. He grew together with them and fellow students. The professors and their spouses cared so much that they made time for students. He took these times to ask two professors separately to teach him to pray. Both invited him to their quiet times, in the offices, early…long before classes even began. One professor laid on the floor face down, placed his arms out in front of his head and prayed like this for 30 minutes. The other professor lit a three-wick candle, pulled out his chair, knelt down on his knees, and prayed for an hour. Dave writes, “To see both professors take a humble posture before the Lord was eye-opening and humbling for me to witness.” To this day, Dave holds onto Mark 1: 35, ” Before daybreak, Jesus got up, and went to an isolated place, to pray.” Dave got to know the professors intimately and in fun group settings.

He was given some bits of advice before going to Boise Bible college from some alumni, including:
• “There will always be someone to have fun with, day and night, guard yourself!”
• “Initially, the students coming in are immature and reckless, but by their 4th year, they become valiant men and women of God, who would be mightily used by God! Give them time and grace!”

Dave saw for himself the change in the students. He remembers that about 30-40% of the student body lived on campus, and there was always someone to hang out with. This was not always good! Dave explains, when you needed to be around others, you could find someone easily, but if you needed to be working, there were always people out there ready for a blast of fun! Distractions were always available, so you had to guard your time to keep up your grades. Every student was ready to do things together like coffee breaks, basketball, games, running, riding bikes, skiing, movies, visit professors, ice blocking, eating out, etc. As good as these are, if not kept in check, they could easily turn your grades downward.

Dave was terrified of public speaking class! Even speaking for five minutes on a topic he knew caused him to pace up and down the corridor outside of the classroom, sweating, heart-pounding, and terrified of being laughed at or, worse, making a mess out of the speech. Of course, he did fine when his time came. And for any of you that know Dave today – the issue now is to limit his time speaking in front of people. He has no fear of speaking of God’s goodness to mankind and the promises He has given in His Word. He knows how God has changed his life and wants everyone to know Jesus paid our debt in full.

Dave spent a summer representing Boise Bible as a Camp Rep at High School Camps over 11 weeks. He met Youth Pastors and Pastors alike, which springboarded into support when he returned to Zimbabwe as a missionary. Dave is grateful to the seven churches and nine individuals who have faithfully supported him and his family since 2004 when he returned.

Dave is married to Cynthia, and they have adopted two beautiful children, Adonaijah and Amariyah. Many helped support them through prayers and finances through the long adoption process. Today their ministry, “Redeem a Nation Ministries,” is in the relationship business. Life is about people, entwined intricately in love, and not so much about things or even the chores related to those things. Dave and his family live in humble settings, living out their deep-rooted relationship with God so that the love in their lives flows out to the people in their sphere of influence.

They make it a goal to return to America every three years to report to their supporting family on how God uses them in the valleys of Zimbabwe to bring the good news to the poor.

Dave reflects on his time in Boise:

My four years at BBC was a huge milestone in my life; it molded me and set me off on a path of forever serving the poor. I learned humility, received purpose, gained knowledge, found truth, became innovative, and have become a part of a family in Christ across all ethnicities, full of hope, grace, peace, and love. God bless you all in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Dave Fortescue

Dave has a small sailboat and occasionally gets the chance to sail in it. He writes, “I recently was on a seven-day sailing regatta, and our backup motor had broken. One particular race, on the last day, was painfully slow with very little wind. Seven boats abandoned the race and started their motors. However, we could not as we had no motor and pressed on through to the finish after six hours and 17 minutes we finished third! We might have given up if we could have, but we couldn’t and pressed on into victory. Life is like that; victory is in Christ, but the opportunities to give up often cross our paths; my encouragement is to press on through the valleys until final victory in Christ is received.” 

Dave and Cynthia would welcome any visitors who wish to work alongside them and see the innovative ways they bring the gospel to Zimbabwe’s poor and marginalized people.