Beyond Life’s Disruptions

Life was great fun. I was 27. I had a husband who loved me dearly. I had a three-year-old son, and a daughter eight months old. I had a good job--a coveted job--with the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, and Development of Zimbabwe.

Life was about to get even better. One day in August 1987, our lifelong dream came to our door, sealed in an envelope. The Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Committee conferred on us its award for graduate study in Canada. My husband and I had tied the knot seven months after completing our bachelors' degrees, and ever since had wanted to do graduate work together. Now we were set to go to Canada. Our dream was soon to be fulfilled.

The disruption

But then came the disruption. Or was it an interruption? Five days before our departure for Canada, we were given a farewell party in my husband's mother's home. The party was good. We enjoyed the love and company of family and friends. We bade good-bye, and were returning to Harare, the capital.

My husband and his friend were in one car, just ahead of us. Our two small children, a few friends, and I were in a pick-up. Twenty kilometers to the city, the sign said. Just then, I saw the car in which my husband and his friend were traveling go over the side of a bridge. The steering wheel got locked, I was told later. We stopped the pick-up. I ran down the flight of stairs by the side of the bridge. I could see the car on its side on the dry river bed, several meters below. A sense of paralysis overwhelmed me. My legs lost their strength. I could not stand. A cousin came to my aid. It all happened so suddenly. In one moment, my husband was gone; so was his friend.

Disruptions to one's plans are often unexplainable and difficult to accept. To claim Romans 8:28 ("all things work together for good to them that love God") appears most difficult in such situations. But life must go on. Dreams are part of that life.

A year later after the accident, I went to Canada with my children. I felt I had to complete my graduate studies, particularly as a single mother. It was not easy. Finances were always a challenge. To maintain a young family as a single parent and to study at the same time made enormous demands. But God does intervene. Church family came to help. In mysterious ways we discovered strength--physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual.

Even as I neared the completion of my master's degree in economics, fear seemed to be lurking in my mind. Fear of returning to the reality of my circumstances: widowhood, uncertainty of finding a job, future for my growing children. To top it all, I had no real roots in Zimbabwe. I am a Liberian by birth, and had embraced Zimbabwe nationality after marriage. I remained in Canada for nine months longer.

I applied to lecture at the Adventist University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Kenya. But I received no response. With my children, my degree, and a lot of faith, I returned home to Zimbabwe. I got a job with a bank, and then moved to another bank as a project manager. Project appraisal and analysis had appealed to me ever since those golden college days when I first met my husband. So here at last was good pay, benefits, career satisfaction, and prestige.

Meanwhile, the University of Eastern Africa had a new vice chancellor. The university desperately needed an economics lecturer. Someone in his office told him of my application submitted almost two years earlier. He contacted me immediately. By then I had lost my interest in teaching; my life at the bank gave me all I needed. But the vice chancellor wanted to interview me. I attended the interview with no intention of accepting the job. My intention received reinforcement when I was told that my salary would be about one-fourth of what I was making at the bank. Still, to be courteous, I promised to consider the offer and get in touch with the university later.

The intervention

Seven months later, during my morning devotional, I read the following statement from Ellen White's Testimonies to Southern Africa: "The men who will give themselves to the great work of teaching the truth are not the men who will be bribed with wealth or frightened by poverty" (p. 7). I felt God was speaking to me directly. He seemed to be saying, "I have called you and you have refused to follow Me. I am requiring from you not only your honest tithe and offerings, but also your talents. I want you to trust Me with your career goals."

I began justifying myself. I was a single parent. I needed the extra income to meet the needs of my family. Suddenly Psalm 37:25 challenged my thoughts: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (KJV). At that point I pledged with God that if He would call me again I would not refuse.

Come Sabbath, the vice chancellor, visiting Zimbabwe, was coincidentally at my home church. As soon as I drove into the church yard, I noticed him. A voice seemed to be saying to me, "Emily, you promised to come when I called you". I decided to pretend not to have seen him. But he spotted me, and said, "Mrs. Dube, I am still waiting for your decision."

All weekend, I pondered my decision. I knew God was calling me to join the university. The call was so strong, the pull of the Spirit irresistible. Finances became irrelevant. The commitment followed immediately.

I am at the university now. Or should I say, I am in God's vineyard? I live each day by His promises, while learning to face life's interruptions and disruptions under His guidance.

Born in Liberia, Emily R. Tebbs Dube is a lecturer in economics at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Kenya.