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On a mission from God: Thomson businessman leads Warrenton church's effort to help build Bible college in Africa

Tim Brown had a vision, and now he's stunned.


L.C. Williams (above) secures the trailer to a transfer truck Tuesday morning at Thomson Metals.

Through his church, Warrenton First Baptist, Mr. Brown became involved in helping to build a Bible college in Zambia, Africa. Mr. Brown said God spoke to his heart in February, and to others in the church, to send a donation of building materials to the effort in Zambia.

Mr. Brown, who is the president and owner of Thomson Metals, Inc. and A&E Industrial, donated metal roofing and the use of his warehouse for storage of other donated materials. He said the church joined forces with Gospel Link, which is a non-denominational ministry in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. Through a Gospel Link newsletter, others across the nation heard the church in Warrenton was collecting donations for Zambia.

"When people heard, they started sending stuff from all tools, table saws, generators, air compressors, plumbing supplies, cabinetry ... It is just absolutely mind-boggling," Mr. Brown said.

People in the church collected clothes to send along with the supplies. Dr. Rob Bray, the pastor of Warrenton First Baptist Church, said many people in Zambia can't afford coats for the cold winters.

In all, Mr. Brown said they collected enough stuff to fill a shipping trailer. On Tuesday, the trailer was lifted by crane and secured to a truck for shipment to Charleston. Mr. Brown said the donations will sail out of Charleston on April 17, and should arrive in Durbans, Africa, on May 18.


Workers and volunteers watch as the large crane hoists the trailer full of donated items for the Bible college in Africa.

Maxie Hayden and Renee Wilson, employees of A&E, were in charge of securing the crane to load the trailer. Other employees of the company packed the material. Mr. Hayden said he will keep track of the trailer all the way to Charleston, and then he will call Africa and make arrangements to get it unloaded from the ship. Mr. Hayden was worried about the trailer until the crane arrived, because he was unsure of the exact weight of the load. When the crane operator reported the load weighed 53,200 lbs., just 800 lbs. shy of the allowed limit, Mr. Hayden smiled with relief.

"I was afraid we'd have to take something off, and that would've been a task. They got it packed in there like a glove. ... I've been keeping track of every inch of it. This morning, everything has materialized perfect. ... A bunch of prayers have been answered," said Mr. Hayden, who is a member of Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, and shares Mr. Brown's vision of seeing a Bible college built. "I don't have a chance to go over there and actually work with the people, but I can help in this way."

All the donated items were new, except for one, Mr. Brown said. Yet it was that used item that impressed him the most - a concrete mixer. Dr. Bray said he, Mr. Brown, and some other men from the church went to Zambia last July and helped build housing for students of the college. Since there was no mixer, Dr. Bray said the Zambians dug a pit and mixed the cement by hand in the pit.

"That mixer will make a big difference to them, they should be excited about that," he said.

When it is completed, the college will hold 1,000 students. A national Bible college is more efficient than sending missionaries over from America, Mr. Brown said, because the students already know the language and the culture. The construction is scheduled to take place from the middle of May until the end of July for the next four years. Dr. Bray said this year they will be building the bathrooms and the kitchen. Six men from Warrenton First Baptist will go to Zambia in July. For more information, call the church at 706-465-2025.

Web posted on Thursday, April 13, 2006

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