Tony Reddy. An Indian Man, Dot not Feather, as my husband, Keith, lovingly refers to him. Tony was born in Durban, South Africa, as were his parents. His grandparents were born in India and moved to Durban. Tony has a wife, two sons, and a daughter, his daughter is married and has a young baby. Tony is 51 years old, a diabetic, a husband,a father, grandfather, ex drug dealer, ex Hindu and a man of God. Tony is a modern day Paul.
The ministry he has is the most God led venture I have ever witnessed. Tony travels through out the continent delivering God’s message, ministering to churches,in the bush, that he helped build in the past 25+ years, areas many do not know exist. Tony will cook food for the people of the area, once he reaches them. He will treat their wounds, physically and emotionally. Tony takes the sick to clinics and hospitals, he councils couples, he teaches the children, he finds homes for the children left behind by either neglect or death. When the people tell him of their needs he either gives what he has, or helps them find what they need. He advises, admonishes, exhorts and supplies them with the Word of God and brings them the Salvation, they, we, all need.
Tony has been doing this since his own salvation. Prior to this Tony was as far from God as anyone could be. He was a major player in the drug world in South Africa. He was of Hindu belief. And then one day God removed the scales from his life and he became a catalyst for God. Tony gave up his worldly power and wealth for nothing in this world and everything in Eternity.
Tony for years has been supported by the meager giving of those he helps and the here and there donation from someone who see his ministry and want to help support. Tony’s salary comes from God, as does all of ours, but in a way that takes way more faith, and he has it.
I just spent a week teaching a class, and Tony has been our ‘host’/point person this week. I was able to see him at work this week. I am humbled.
I flew here from the states on large jet, had meals served to me on the plane, watched movies as I flew, had a toilet to go to. I complain a bit about the tight quarters, especially on the prop job we rode from our smaller to larger airport in Houston. I complain about the rice cake they give on the US flights instead of nice GF bread on the European side of British Air. I don’t like that I have to bathroom in the weird little toilet after everyone, and wonder what the moister on the toilet lid is. I get a bit miffed at the attitude of the stewardesses, they are so condescending sometimes. And flying for 2 hours then 10 hours then a layover in a London airport, even with a bit of sight-seeing there, and then another 10 hours to Lusaka, is a LOOOONG trip!
On the other hand; Tony drives from Durban a 2600 KM trip. He does stop a few times on the way, but not to sight see, he stops to visit churches, drives through areas with barely roads to check on people and give them encouragement and God’s word. Once there he, many times, is needed to carry someone somewhere, usually the hospital. Tony will set up camp and make a meal for those in the general area, he makes the meal with the rice, tin fish and supplies he brought, maybe a chicken he purchased up the road. Tony builds the fires, unloads the truck, cooks the meal, everyone else, then himself, his companions (now his 21 year old son, and his daughter if she can leave the baby at the time, and maybe another female friend who can sometimes make the trips as the cook) eat. Other stops include patrol road blocks that are numerous, what they are looking for very few know, other than a bribe. Tony does not pay, so the stops can be lengthy, but to Tony they are opportunity to present the Gospel, to the men with AK 47’s. Tony and his companions will sleep on the side of the road, sleeping either on the ground or on the seats of the truck. The truck is a good Toyota Hilux, but it is still a truck. The bathroom, no worries of others dribble, I suppose. A shower, if can afford to use water, is a bucket of water. I am humbled.
When I reach my destination this time, I am a bit disappointed by the accommodations. It is not bad, but the quaint cabin/huts are just that, equipped with beds, and blankets, a real toilet, a shower with a concrete bottom, no air conditioning, they do have electricity. The grounds are wonderful, we arrange to have our meals made for us by Jessie the cook, they are all meat, starch and at least 2 vegetable dishes.
Tony stays with whomever will ask him, but usually he will sleep on the floor of the church he is visiting. This trip he brought his son’s twin mattress, packed on trailer, because he has been having some back pain. Tony cleans up at night after all is dark by pouring a bucket of cold water over himself. The toilets are either outside or the holes in the ground used as toilets. Tony’s meals are what he makes for himself, after he builds the fire, he eats rice, tin fish and maybe something he gets at a small vegetable stand. Tony sacrifices so much for the people of the churches and they rely on him for so much and respect him so, yet, they do not offer to help or feed or shelter him very often, it is a “culture thing’ Tony says. I am humbled.
After my mission is finished I say my goodbyes,go to the hotel nearest the airport I will fly from, wash the week of roughing it off, have a sit down dinner, again. I will board my plane and fly home and be greeted and loved on by my family, get to tell my adventures and give all credit to God and tell of the amazing things He did on this trip. My main concern will be if my luggage gets back at the same time I do. I will possibly return to Africa and another mission in a year or so, but NOT soon!
Tony does not end his mission, Tony only packs to go home for a short time, he will continue his mission at home. Tony will travel another 5 days to get home, more stops at churches, at road stops. Each time he visits a church he may have to add a day or some travel to help someone in need. With each patrolled stop he will have to wonder if there will be consequences to pay. Tony will sleep on the sides of the road. Tony will touch and change more lives on the way home. I am humbled.
This man goes and does with no guarantee of his safety or financial support. Tony does not have a church that will support him, or come and get him if he is in trouble or runs out of money. Tony does not ever spend money on himself, his needs, he even gives what little he has so others can travel and eat. I AM HUMBLED.
I type this from my air-conditioned hotel room. I do not think I will eat dinner tonight, not as a sacrificial move, but because I ate too much at lunch, as we shopped at the Mall in Lusaka. Keith has just dropped our mission companion at the airport, and seen her safely on the plane, she will stay in a nice hotel before flying home tomorrow. We will fly out tomorrow. Tony is in his Toyota truck with his daughter and son, possibly pulling over soon to build a fire and cook the evening meal.Tony will be home in about a week, his wife will greet him with the love he has missed for a month. His daughter will hold her young baby after a month of being away, and be held by her own husband. His son will unload and put away all of the traveling gear, and replace his mattress on his bed, before he can sleep in his own bed. If they return near Sunday, Tony may prepare for giving the service, in the church that he used to pastor, in Durban. Tony’s phone will ring, there will be a need, a crisis, and he will leave and council, and advise. Soon, he will repack that trailer, and travel for days, changing more lives, answering the call of the Lord, in a way that humbles me and shames me.
God, I want to serve as Tony does, as Paul did, yet I fail. Thank you God for giving Tony the will, the ear to hear your call, the strength to overcome this world. Bless him, with health, finances, and your amazing grace.