“God has always provided what we needed before; we’re sure He will provide again.”
Hungry for learning and hopeful about their future, the children asked if they could attend a nearby private school, a place known for the number of graduates who went on to university.
“We’re sorry,” Stain and Gladys Musungaila told their children. “We don’t have enough money to send you to the private school.”
“Let’s pray for the money,” the children responded. “God has always provided what we needed before; we’re sure He will provide again.”
* * *
So began the adventure. Parents and children praying morning and evening and throughout the day, reminding God about school, hopes, and funds.
A few mornings later father Stain’s morning prayer-walk was interrupted by a stranger carrying a bulky package. “Mr. Stain,” the stranger called, “I have a gift for you.”
Stain stopped, greeted the man, and accepted the odd-shaped package.
“It’s broken, but I hear you are the kind of person who can fix things. My wife and I thought that maybe you could get it going again and use it somehow. Maybe.”
“What is it?” Stain asked, hefting the package, testing its bulk and weight and imagining what might be inside.
“It’s a mixer for making bread, a very old one,” the man said. “The bowl is dented, and the motor has stopped spinning, but it makes excellent bread. You can make it work again. I know you can.”
Stain wasn’t so sure. He liked bread but knew nothing about making it. And though Gladys was a marvelous cook, she had always bought their bread, not baked it. But the problem with the motor? That was a problem he might be able to fix.
“Thank you, friend,” Stain said, and turned to take the gift home to Gladys.
* * *
Gladys laughed, and so did the children. Stain set the package out back and rushed off to work. On the way home he stopped at a store and bought several pounds of flour, just in case. That night he worked long over the bulky motor. It took chipping off red rust and rewinding and attaching frayed wires, along with some beating, pounding, and urgent praying. By morning the motor was spluttering the ancient bowl to a wobbly spin. Bread was a possibility!
Gladys laughed, and so did the children. But this time the laughter was tinged with hope. Stain was dreaming of a bakery, shelves filled with loaves, rolls, maybe even croissants.
“We’ll call it Sky Chef Bakery,” Stain announced. “It will send you to university.”
Everyone worked and the dreams began to show promise. Customers began telling others about the “wonderful rolls” at Sky Chef Bakery. The girls attended the new school.
Stain and Gladys struggled to keep their bakery on its feet while their two girls, Chibale and Kunda, applied to attend Copperbelt University some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Livingstone. Despite the bakery’s growing success, the family had only enough money to cover the fuel to take their girls to the university. There was no money for fees.
The need sent them back to praying as a family, this time including the urgency that university was opening in two days! Sensing hope, the family left for Copperbelt with no money in their pockets for fees, just the good scholastic records both girls had earned, hoping those would be good enough for bursaries at the university. They stayed one night at Stain’s younger brother’s home near the university and applied for scholarships the following morning.
“Don’t worry,” the girls said. “God has provided for us this far. He will not give up on us now.”
The whole family prayed for Chibale and Kunda; then Stain and Gladys left Copperbelt for their home in Livingstone. “We left the girls in the hands of the living God,” Stain remembers. “Whatever He decides, let it be so.” Three days later they received a message that both girls had been accepted and given full scholarships in the school of sciences. There was much celebrating!
* * *
God continued to bless the breadmakers, and before long the “first-ever” Sky Chef Bakery birthed a second bakery, then a third and fourth in Sesheke, 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Livingstone, until “the best rolls” were available everywhere.
“I noticed that there were many small hungry-looking children gathering around the bakeries,” remembers Stain. “I asked them why they were here, and they all told me the same story. They were orphans, and they were hungry.”
Stain went into the nearest Sky Chef Bakery and came out with several large bags filled with fresh rolls. “One for each,” he said. Though he had made a few kids happy “for the moment,” Stain realized that he needed to do something more.
Orphans need more than a few rolls, thought Stain, so he and Gladys began talking with their friends, meeting with local service groups, and bringing impossible dreams to life. New schools for the orphans opened up beside the bakeries.
“We did a lot of praying,” says Gladys. “We knew we couldn’t do much for the children ourselves, but we also knew that since God had given us the bakeries, maybe He was ready to help us do something special for the orphan kids.”
“That rusty old bread mixer was God’s gift to our family,” they say. “Now it’s a gift to hundreds of lonely orphaned kids!”
After the girls graduated from university, Stain and Gladys gave three of the four bakeries to the managers. “These bakeries were God’s gift to us,” Stain told the amazed managers. “Now they are our gift to you. But the deed comes with one small requirement. You must agree to make sure that the orphans in the school beside your bakery always have enough rolls—and a chicken every Friday.”
There were cheers, high-fives, and promises all around.
Sky Chef Bakeries still operate in Livingstone and Sesheke, along with multiple gardens that produce food for underprivileged, orphaned children. Beneath the counter of the first bakery, in a place of honorable rest, there is a very dented but shiny old bread mixer. A gift that keeps on giving.