As he talks, Burgert Kloppers moves his big hands slowly and carefully, displaying an awareness of his own strength and the need to manage it while talking. This robust South African could have been a rugby player or a wrestler, but God had other plans for his life. Instead, Burgert became a builder.
He started his own company in Pretoria, South Africa, but then God called him to missions. He and his family attended a discipleship training course with OM Zambia, where he learned about OM’s plan to build a training base to equip and disciple new workers.
The vision for this project began when OM Zambia realized the need for good training programs in Africa. Many Africans are willing to serve as missionaries, but few training programs exist. Right now, OM Zambia turns away applicants due to limited space in its current facilities.
With this new training base, the team hopes to train more than 2,500 people annually for work in the mission field, schools and churches—at least three times the current number. This bolsters OM Africa’s larger vision to equip and send out more than 5,000 new workers from Africa in the next 10 years.
With a background in construction, Kloppers got involved in the initial planning of the project. The OM Zambia leadership soon offered Kloppers the position of project manager, but at the time Burgert and his family had already envisioned serving elsewhere.
“Let me pray about it, I said—meaning no,” Kloppers explains with a smile. “We prayed and God showed us clearly that He wanted me to finish this job. My wife, Melissa, and I received the same Scripture from the Lord: Haggai, chapters one and two. We have to build the house of the Lord first, before ours.”
Since then, a team of 65 has formed around this initiative. After the team crafted plans and a budget, building began in the nearby area of Maplehurst.
“By faith we excavated the foundations, not having enough money,” Kloppers says. “But the Lord has shown Himself. We have to keep faith and keep doing the work. It’s impossible if God is not building the house.”
God has since provided the resources for the bookstore, two staff houses and the skills training center, which Kloppers says should be finished in the next four months. If this happens, OM Zambia can start admitting their first trainees.
Kloppers feels similarly optimistic about the bookstore. Stocking Christian literature, he says, will provide a good platform for involving people in missions.
The building team has now started preparing the foundations of the student dormitories.
“We are very privileged to say that we can see the hand of God moving in this place!” Kloppers exclaims. “The goal for this training center is to be done by 2012 or 2013, God providing; but I’ll finish building Maplehurst even if it takes me 15 years!”
But as a project manager, life is not always easy for Kloppers. He says that construction is one of the toughest jobs anyone can imagine, and he’s had to be very strict for things to be done well and on time.
“It’s a challenge to be loving and kind with people, but at the same time strict,” says Burgert. “The challenge is to keep and not to lose the grace we see in Jesus Christ.”
The project still has a long way to go before completion. Besides general funding, OM Zambia still needs skilled workers, such as a civil engineer, a structural engineer, an architect and a surveyor.
Please pray that more will catch the vision of how God will impact the world through this training center. Please also pray for the wisdom and protection of the team members.
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