Tears running down his face, he knocked on the doors of people he knew – looking for help. His feet ached from walking all day, but desperation fueled him. He had to keep going on. Not just for his sake, but for his wife and their unborn child. Their excitement at having their first child had turned to distress when they found out that the baby was too big to be delivered normally. Two weeks after the due date had passed, his wife’s cervix wasn’t dilating and the doctor told them that a C-Section would be needed to deliver the baby. The thought of the doctor’s ‘No service before payment’ policy spurred him on…he knocked and knocked on door after door. He had begged the doctor to deliver the baby and keep them in the hospital until he couldfind money to pay, but no. The doctor had refused. Tears in his eyes…pride turned to dust, he asked for money to help pay the doctor. Rejected time and again, he finally gave up for the day when nighttime approached. “Tomorrow is another day”, he thought to himself. “I’ll start again tomorrow.”
And he did…and the day after, but all to no avail. After the third day, the doctor decided to deliver the baby, but it was too late. The baby – a little girl – was gone, and with her his wife’s sanity. The doctor performed a D&C to remove the baby, and the baby had to be dismembered to bring her out. His heart broke as looked at the baby that would have been his first child and he cried out “God, where are you?! I’ve obeyed you, why should it end this way?”
Born in Jaki, Benue State (Nigeria) in 1967, he was named ‘Dondo-Shater’ which means ‘Follow the Lord.’ His father was an evangelist and his parents worked together to bring the word of God to their small village. His father was the only Christian in the family and had joined with a few other Christians in the village to form a church. As a young child, Dondo had a mischievous streak and was always getting into one scrape or the other. Fueled by a natural curiosity, he liked taking things apart to see how they worked. He once punctured a clay pot and watched in fascination as his mother tried to cook with it. In spite of his destructive tendencies, Dondo was an honest child and always owned up to his mischief.
The death of Dondo’s father in 1982 threw him into a personal crisis. He had lost his best friend and confidant and a huge vacuum opened up inside him. He spiraled into depression and often heard his father’s voice speaking to him. His pain and distress over his father’s death drove him to prayer. One day while he was praying, God opened his eyes and he saw a revelation of his heart – he saw his heart open and full of darkness and evil. The image was so abhorrent to look at that he screamed “God, save me!” Dondo had always been conscious of his sin-nature, but for the first time he admitted that he was a sinner who needed the saving grace of God. The Holy Spirit came upon him and he started to speak in tongues. Like Dondo, several of his classmates also got saved at the same time and that was the beginning of a revival in the area. Dondo and his classmates preached to other classmates and everyone they met and within three weeks, 400 students were added to the fellowship.
Dondo’s love for missionary work was born when he watched a movie about Don Richardson, a missionary in Papua, New Guinea. The images from the movie followed Dondo as he extended his preaching ministry to the surrounding villages. Finally, his activities caught the attention of the church leadership and he was asked to stop preaching. Several church leaders interviewed Dondo and tried to convince him that he was teaching heresy and should stop. When their attempts failed, they located the man who had baptized Dondo as a child and asked him to speak to Dondo. The elderly clergyman met with Dondo and spoke to him in detail about the doctrines that he was teaching. After a lengthy talk, the old pastor met with the church leadership and gave them his opinion: all the doctrines that Dondo was teaching were Biblical. Unmoved, the church leadership ex-communicated Dondo.
Persecution against the fellowship increased so much that they could only meet in secret. However, this only strengthened Dondo’s resolve and he eventually became the prayer secretary for the FCS (Fellowship of Christian Students) branch in his school. In 1987, Dondo read a missionary magazine about the famine in Mali in 1983-1984. There had been a severe 2-year drought and people were dying of hunger. Missionaries had traveled to Mali to help distribute food and supplies to alleviate the effects of the famine. As he held the magazine in his hands, Dondo heard God say to him “The hunger in Mali is not only physical, but spiritual. I’ll send you to Mali.”
After more than a dozen years, God fulfilled His word and Dondo was sent to Mali as a missionary. He and his wife have faced some huge challenges including the death of their first child. But, they have been unwavering in their commitment to God and devotion to their mission. One year after the heartbreaking loss of their child, God blessed Dondo and his wife with a son and several years later, they were blessed with a second child – a daughter. Dondo and his family live in Mali and have worked to strengthen existing churches, and recruit missionaries for the villages where there are no Christians.
When asked how he would want to be remembered, Dondo said “This man gave himself to God as an article that God can use to purchase others into His Kingdom.”
Dondo is currently working on a book about his journey as a missionary and hopes to have it published by next year.