OM friend and volunteer Eddie Ramamonjiarivelo, from Madagascar, is a teacher and businessman with a heart for God’s kingdom.
“I want to be a giver, not a receiver,” said Eddie Ramamonjiarivelo, an OM friend and volunteer in Madagascar. “I want to keep giving something to people. I want to be a missionary.”
Growing up as a “formal Christian”, Eddie did not know what it meant to have a personal relationship with God for many years.
When he was a year old Eddie's parents divorced, and he and his six siblings were sent to live with other relatives. Though he moved four times throughout his school years, Eddie always remained adamant that he would get a good education.
“[Family members] didn't want to send me to school,” remembered Eddie. “I was 11 years old at that time, but I insisted.”
Eddie finally found encouragement with the last family he stayed with, as they supported him in his studies and paid his school fees. When he graduated from high school, Eddie did not want the couple to spend their hard-earned money on his studies, as they had children of their own to provide for. Eddie decided to study English so that he would be able to teach English courses to fund further education.
When he became advanced in English, he received an offer from an English club that teaches all over the country. He trained with them for two years in Fianarantsoa and was then sent to Ambovombe in the south of the country.
“During the time which I came to Ambovombe I was a bad boy,” Eddie admitted. “Drinking, smoking, and committing adultery. Fortunately one of my students was a pastor. [He] tried getting close to me, talking with me, and a month later, I was invited to church.”
Eddie accepted the invitation, but not out of personal conviction. “I just went because I wanted to please the pastor.”
Though peer approval got Eddie through the church doors, God's voice kept him there. “I heard that I was guilty,” Eddie said. “And since that time, I understand what the Word of God is saying, and the love of God.”
From that day Eddie quit his former worldly ways, except smoking, which proved a more difficult vice to give up. It took a little longer to throw away the cigarettes, but he was able to with the help of Jesus.
Eddie was baptised on Easter Sunday, 2011, four months after accepting the pastor's invitation to church.
Now Eddie incorporates the Bible into his classes, teaching students both English and the good news. Every class begins and ends with prayer.
“I like teaching,” said Eddie. “I can share my knowledge with the students. I can teach them a different language, and, most important, I can teach them the Word of God.”
While some of his students are Christians, others are not and balk at the topic.
“It's hard to convince them. When we pray, they do not want to pray. But if they want to study English, they have to pray. I can see that every student is changed through learning English. I tell them that whatever you do, you need to give your life to Christ,” Eddie explained. “Especially as Proverbs 16:3 says, ‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans’ (NIV).
Named the English Learning Centre, Eddie's English courses typically run for six months. Working over 40 hours a week teaching in a private school, a public school and an evening class, Eddie is very busy. Besides teaching, he is also an aspiring businessman.
After a teaching project generated some extra income, Eddie followed the advice of the OM team in Ambovombe and invested in the purchase of a pig. One week later, he bought another. One more week passed, and he acquired one more pig. A month later, Eddie bought his final pig, bringing the total to three sows and one boar. Two of the sows recently gave birth to a combined total of 16 piglets.
Eddie's business aspirations, however, have not stopped with pigs. A small shop was also in his plans. With the sale of one of his pigs, Eddie had the amount needed to set up the shop.
A suitable building was the next challenge. After sharing his vision with a friend, she replied that she not only owned a place that would be an ideal location for a shop, but knew where he could buy the goods he planned to sell. The store opened at the beginning of August 2014.
Eddie does not do all the work himself but employs people from church who need a job. “I wanted to be a businessman so I could help people,” Eddie explained.
Currently he has hired two people to work in the shop, and one to look after the pigs. Already Eddie has his eye on his next business venture: chickens.
Between teaching and his businesses, one would think Eddie has enough on his plate, but he is also in his second year of university. “But if there is a way for me to attend seminary school, I will. I will leave [university]. It is better for me to study the Bible,” he said.
Eddie is busy with all his jobs and commitments, but missions is where his heart is, and he uses every opportunity to tell people about Jesus.
An active member in his church, Eddie connected with the OM Madagascar team in the south through an evangelism group. He joins them when they visit the local hospital to pray and distribute care packages, and whenever other opportunities present themselves, such as the OM outreach that took place mid-July in Ambovombe.
“I want to be a missionary; that is the great desire of my heart. I want to do [all kinds of missions work], especially to preach the Gospel.”