How we met:
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
WHEN John Ng’andu thought of a wife, he wanted someone who would accept him and his line of work.
“I wanted someone who would support me as a man of God, someone who would accept my background and also someone faithful,” John says. “Complexion was not a factor, but I wanted someone good-looking.”
Mary Chimfwe, on the other hand, wanted a man who would respect and take good care of her.
“I wanted a man with a good character, but when I became a believer, my eyes were opened and I started to think of a man who was faithful and God-fearing,” Mary says. “There were a lot of men in the church, but I did not see anyone who attracted my interest until I met John.”
The two met at the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) in Lusaka’s Matero in 1983, where they were both Sunday school teachers at the time. They later became friends and would spend most of their time at church.
During this time, Mary was a student nurse at Chainama College of Health Sciences while John was working as a pastor.
“We used to see each other after the fellowship, at times I used to visit her home and we could discuss a number of issues,” John shared. “There was nothing much about dating because we spent most of our time at church.”
Mary continues: “I knew John through my sister as he was a regular visitor at our home, though it took me time to know more about him because he was someone I respected as a man of God. But with time, we got so close and I began to understand him.”
In 1985, the two got engaged and the following year, John left for London to go and work for a Christian community called Lee Abby International Students Club.
“It was during my work in London that I won a scholarship to study for a diploma in Christian education,” he says. “This, however, did not go well with my then fiancée, she insisted that I go back home, get married then go back with her to London.”
Often times, Mary was mocked by her friends that John was not going to come back but instead was going to get married to a white lady.
“I had trust in him and knew he was going to come back for me, no wonder I was not bothered when my friends teased me because he was faithful to me,” she says.
On September 12, 1987, John and Mary got married and on a Monday, the two were on a flight to London. They stayed in London for nine months and came back in 1988.
“The first two years of our marriage were the most challenging because we did not have a child by then. But we never lost our faith in God. We believed that everything comes from him and is given at His own time,” he says.
Now, with four children and 30 years of marriage, Mary says love for each other, respect and trust are important.
“Prayer, love, trust and respect for each other have been the cornerstone of our marriage. Since we got married, we have been depending on and trusting in God,” she says.
Mary also believes that tolerance for each other and understanding are important for a marriage to work and last.
“Misunderstandings are there in marriages but people must communicate and even seek counsel from the church and elderly people in society. I also believe there is no justification for one to kill the other because of an argument,” she says.
John, on the other hand, believes that men must learn to appreciate their wives and not only look at their weakness or negative side.
“Men must complement their wives. If a man does not enjoy the food the wife cooks, it’s important to tell her unlike condemning. I believe lack of appreciation on the part of a husband is contributing to violence in marriages. Couples must also learn to forgive each other,” he says.
“We’ve been waiting on God’s timing and direction, everything that has happened in our marriage has nothing to do with our intellectual ability but the hand of God.”
John has observed that most young couples lack anger management skills when faced with a quarrel.
And Mary has noted that most new marriages are struggling because of loss of culture.
“People do not want to come to terms with reality. They take whatever they watch on television and bring it in their homes. The dressing of young ladies is also a matter of concern, the beauty of a woman must be in her good character and heart as opposed to dressing,” she points out.
She believes parents have a huge role to play in building and inculcating morals in their children.
“People think whatever they see on television is what should be done, the content in most international movies is corrupting the morals of our children. Parents, therefore, have a huge role to monitor what their children read, watch and who their friends are,” says John.
The couple lives in Avondale. John is a senior pastor at Exploits Mission Centre in Chamba Valley while Mary is a nurse.