Partnering for Maximum Impact: Zimbabwe Project 2015

Both a Church and AVL designers combine their resources and skills to bring modern technology into the far reaches of African civilization.

Supporting and working alongside Rev. Gift Makumbe, both Cornerstone and Moyers traveled in August of 2015 to make a difference in the lives of orphans and the local church. Worship Facilities spoke with Alan Hannah, lead associate and worship pastor with Cornerstone Ministries, who helped retell this story of what God is doing in the beautiful country of Zimbabwe and its people.

See images here of Bemhiwa church project.

Alison Istnick: How did this partnership between Moyers and Cornerstone Ministries happen?

Alan Hannah: We have a great, long-standing relationship with Moyers, who was at our church one weekend working on a new lighting rig. [While there] they heard our Pastor speaking to our congregation about how we were going to Zimbabwe to help a church with their sound system and projection. Moyers asked to help in any way possible.

After a year-long process, Moyers supplied the equipment (partly donated by manufacturers) and two installers who joined our church team on a trip last summer to Zimbabwe, where we installed one sound system and distributed three others.

AI: What was accomplished on this trip?

The greatest thing we saw happened in this tiny village of Bemhiwa in the far outreaches of Zimbabwe. We arrived at a simple brick and mortar building and in a matter of two days we had installed 3 speakers, projection and an audio console.  We also provided them with a keyboard,  guitar and purchased a generator to hook up power.

There's no church or school building in the area that has equipment like this church does now. So, in one weekend they went from having thirty people at a service to 250 people. It's opened up this church to be able to do things that they would have never thought possible. I don't know that as Americans we can fully understand, because we have so much; I saw firsthand the difference that was made and the importance of the role of [AVL] equipment.

AI: Looking back at the trip, what comes to mind as having inspired you?

AH: When we do missions we want to do it with excellence. Moyers shares that vision and put as much care and effort into making that system top quality, as they did in any of our projects here in the States. They sent digital consoles and quality speakers. And the people there got it; they know the difference when they see new equipment coming out of boxes and wrappers.

On our part, to ensure success, we train people while we are there.  In this tiny Zimbabwe church, there was a boy named Gordon [one of many orphans], who I believe was around 14-years-old. Even though he'd never worked with technology, he was good with his hands and fixing things. He sat and shadowed our audio guy.

So now, Gordon is running a 24 channel digital mixer and smiling ear to ear because he's never been able to touch equipment like that before.

AI: For other churches looking to extend missions beyond U.S. borders, what have you learned from your work in Zimbabwe?

AH: I think the biggest thing we learned is to try and deal with customs as little as possible.  It's an extremely poor country that is under a dictatorship. Speakers, for example, cost 5 to 6 times as much to purchase there. The gear got hung up in customs and was basically held for ransom. It was extremely stressful, and it took several days and substantial funds to get the equipment into our hands.

What we would do specifically different, is we would take the projectors with us. It would have been less expensive for us to pay extra baggage fees on the airplane than it was to ship the items. Basically we'd take as much as we could with us on the plane and get it through customs that way.  Actually,  right now we are in conversation with some of the higher ups at UPS , they have a non -profit branch, so we are explaining our mission and trying to work with them for this next project in hopes of reducing shipping costs of heavy equipment. 

We haven't figured out yet what we are going to do about speakers and a console.

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