The Right Path For Deo
We often wonder why the path God has chosen for us is filled with sharp curves, narrow passages and perceived dead ends. For Deo, what proved to be the right path began in the Belgian Congo where he was born. As a young Muslim child he could never have imagined that his journey would eventually take him half way around the world to the United States – where he would receive the incredible, life saving gift of a new kidney.
Deodatus (Deo) Mwamba was born into a prominent Muslim family. He earned his master's degree in Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia and became a frequent lecturer in mosques – spending sixteen years as a teacher in a Muslim Seminary in Tanzania. He eventually became known as one of the top-ranking Imam's in Africa.
But Deo’s path was about to take one of many sharp turns. Through a series of miraculous events, God opened Deo’s eyes by revealing Himself through the Koran. Deo’s heart was changed and he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Deo’s conversion to Christianity meant he and his family would be targeted for death so they fled to his birthplace – the Democratic Republic(DR) of Congo.
Once safely back home, Deo’s new mission was to share his testimony with the marginalized; including orphans, women suffering from abuse, those struggling with HIV and imprisoned youth. After many years of study, Deo became a Bishop of the DR of Congo All Nations Anglican Church. He traveled throughout Africa and other parts of the world training missionaries with the mission to reach the unreached – including his Muslim brothers.
In 2012, Deo experienced another dramatic change. He was selected, through a lottery, to immigrate to the United States - a narrow passage for sure. In 2017, he became a US citizen. With the support of multiple churches and NGO’s, Deo continued his mission trips across Africa. However, in the fall of 2018, Deo’s mission trips came to an abrupt end when he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. By early January of 2019, his new routine involved dialysis three days a week for four hours each day – leaving him exhausted and unsure of his future.
Roadblocks and Green Lights
Deo’s only road back to missionary work would be with a new kidney. At the start, the transplant obstacles seemed insurmountable. He would need to raise enough funds to cover the life-long cost of anti-rejection medications and qualify to be added to the transplant registry. A donor match through the registry could take up to 8 years. Through another series of miraculous events these roadblocks would open.
The first of these events took place in 2007. Deo was working with World Mission where he met Ken and Shelly Watkins. The Watkins’s were working as part of a water ministry whose mission was to provide both clean water and the message of Jesus Christ through teaching, training and the provision of solar-powered audio Bibles in the tribal language of the local community in various parts of the world – including many parts of Africa. With common missions their projects would often overlap and the three became good friends.
Fast forward to 2019, with the improbability of a donor match coming from the registry anytime soon, the only other option was for Deo to find a donor himself. Ken volunteered before Deo could ask. Now a whole new series of obstacles lay ahead for the pair. They would need to have compatible blood types, a HLA tissue match and pass multiple reactive antibody cross matches. The odds that Deo's very first donor, who born half a world away and of a different race, would be a match was highly unlikely. But God had a plan – Ken and Deo were a match!
Closures, Cancer and Covid
Ken went on to pass a series of scans, physicals, scopes, EKG and X-rays. Deo would have a more difficult time. He would need a complicated surgery to repair a closure that caused his kidneys to fail in 2018. Only a handful of surgeons in the US were capable of doing this type of surgery. Thankfully, a specialist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor agreed to take his case. The surgery was a success but his painful and lengthy recovery coupled with the need for multiple repeat scopes and other invasive procedures resulted in Deo’s removal from the registry. Then another devastating blow occurred when one of his lab tests revealed he had prostate cancer. By then, the Covid 19 pandemic was in full swing which meant his 6 weeks of radiation treatments would not begin until the fall of 2020. And in November his roommate left abruptly leaving Deo to pay the full amount for rent. With few options and a long waitlist for subsidized housing, Deo was forced to exhaust his small savings and retirement accounts. Another setback occurred when the earlier surgical repair was found to be damaged due to the radiation treatments.
But the spring of 2021 brought renewed hope when a surgeon, who specialized in treating Deo’s rare set of complicated issues, joined a practice in Grand Rapids. Another miracle! Deo underwent further procedures, and another round of labs and scans. This time he was considered cancer free and passed all his tests! Ken was also re-approved as a donor and Deo was given a green light for his long awaited kidney transplant which is now scheduled for June 28, 2021. Praise God!
One Final Hurdle
So, as one long and difficult chapter in Deo’s life comes to an end, a new chapter is about to begin with the gift of a healthy kidney from his dear friend. Hard work, determination, a positive attitude, a commitmented group of supporters and daily prayers, have gotten Deo to this point. There is, however, one last hurdle. Deo will need to raise an additional $15,000 in order to replace the NFT funds that were used to pay the unexpected medical bills related to his surgeries, radiation treatments and additional testing. Deo, ever faithful, always expected that God would provide. This time God will provide through the generosity of friends, loved ones and strangers. Please prayerfully consider a life saving gift of any size to The National Foundation for Transplants. Simply copy and paste the following link to donate: https://charity.gofundme.com/nft-deodatusmwamba. Since Deo will be on unpaid medical leave for 2-3 months he could also use some Meijer gift cards to purchase groceries and non grocery items which will not be reimbursed by the foundation. And lastly, we ask for your prayers for these two men of faith as they add yet one more bond between them.