by Elga Solomon | Class of '21

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by Tabitha Chang | Staff '18

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Nothing is Impossible

by Joshua Draget | Class of 2014

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“Have you ever considered being a student missionary?” Her voice broke the silence as I had been sitting there, lost in thought. A friend from Southern Adventist University suggested an option I had been thinking about. “I suppose I could go on the retreat to find out more,” I replied. I had been realizing over the past couple of months that I needed to do something to help refocus my life, and find my calling and passion. Within a few months, I ended up applying to Riverside Farm, a large OCI-run institute along the Kafue River in Southern Zambia. By that September, I looked out the window of the plane as we backed up from the breezeway. Wow, I’m actually going to Zambia, I thought. It had been a long process of fundraising, researching the country, and preparing myself mentally and spiritually for what might be in store. My missions training class at Southern had equipped me for this new journey, but I still had a measure of uncertainty as to what lay ahead. I was going there primarily to help build one-day churches in villages across Zambia, and to do a business internship for the farm, which was also required for my degree. Soon I came to consider Riverside as my second home, with the delicious food, friends, and people I now count as family. Riverside Farm is not only a banana farm, but grows winter wheat, soybeans, citrus, and other produce. In addition, there are primary and secondary schools, a Bible school, a clinic, and other vocational classes. Building one-day churches was one of the highlights of my first few months in Zambia. When Covid hit, I was well into my business internship, and we were quarantined to the farm. My job consisted of looking for new growth and industry opportunities that would help further Riverside’s mission, Serving the Needs of Humanity. During this period I started experimenting with natural soap making. Through the advice of the director and a local elder, I found that there was a significant need for empowering Zambian youth and women. The vision was to produce natural, healthy soap at the farm, and train people as sales agents to support themselves in their education, family, or any other need. I ended up naming it Akuna Soap Industry from the phrase Akuna Sesipala, meaning “Nothing is Impossible (with God)” that I had learned from a Lozi song, while building one-day churches in Western Province. After conducting local market research and exploring various manufacturing opportunities, I concluded that there was a market for a good quality, affordable, healthy bar of soap in Zambia. Focus group trials indicated that the local people were pleased with the soap, even using it to heal facial marks and acne. From their recommendations I was able to fine-tune the recipes and create a better product. Currently, we have a team of 10 production workers, with over 200 sales agents trained, with more training planned. More products are being researched including shampoo bars, lotions, and natural toothpaste. Currently plans are underway to build a bigger plant, and establish a sales agent network of 3000 youth and women across Zambia, utilizing the church network. We are also entering the market in Lusaka, the capital city, and pursuing partnerships with retailers, wholesalers, and hotels. There is still much work to be done, and my plan is to stay for up to two more years, with the goal of full sustainability and continued growth. As I looked out of the plane window over a year ago, I never imagined what God had in store for my Zambian experience. But I can truly say that everything so far has been solely due to His providence, direction, and for His glory. There are still many uncertainties in the beginning and growth processes of Akuna Soap Industry. I humbly ask for your prayers as I continue to seek God’s wisdom, that I might represent Him more fully and be a witness to all I come in contact with. My experience at Oklahoma Academy no doubt helped prepare me for this episode of my life’s journey. I want to encourage all those reading; If you feel like you have failed or God has closed a door, do not fear – He will open another if you wait on Him and remember that Akuna Sesipala – Nothing is impossible with God!