How does a family end up with tickets in hand to Kenya, all our belongings packed in a shipping container, joyfully - albeit a bit nervously - moving across the world? Saying good-bye to friends and family, preparing our toddlers as much as we can for the big changes ahead. Trying to plan how to have a baby overseas. It comes from the calling deep in our hearts that God gave each of us, Kevin and myself, before we even met, to bring the good news of the Gospel to the people of Africa.
At the age of 16 I gave my life to God’s service, no matter where he would call me. I’d accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 5, but as a child imagined my life as a famous singer. I love love love to sing and it makes me feel alive and connected to God in a very unique way. I also thought the glamorous life of a singer would be fun. Yet at 16 I felt I needed to give God my life regardless of where He called me or what He asked me to do.
I’d always enjoyed growing up on the mission field and as I grew older I become more and more interested and involved in mission work. In college I majored in International Studies with a mission’s emphasis. For my internship I spent a summer in Liberia. After college I returned to Liberia and lived with my parents while working at an orphanage, and later did Bible studies and counseling with some young ladies while working at the orphanage. For the first year in Liberia I acted as the orphanage supervisor. Later I worked as a part-time volunteer, and finally spent 3 months as the Interim Country Director of the organization.
God gave me some incredible opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ to some very needy children and I grew to love many of them deeply. There were situations that I did not understand how God could have allowed and job dynamics that were beyond stressful. But I learned a lot of lessons and became passionate about adoption ethics and researching more biblical ways to meet the needs of vulnerable children overseas. Day to day in this work I interacted with the women who cared for the children. Even as I was passionate about the work I was doing to help the kids, I found I felt the most comfortable and the most gifted in my work with the ladies.
It was through this that God revealed to me that He was not calling me to any kind of large scale orphan/vulnerable children work, but rather to focus on the women who make up 50% of the adult population in Africa. They need people to teach them what it looks like to be godly women in their unique situations. How to honor God in cultures ingrained with spirit worship and sexual immorality. How to be good moms so they can care for their own children, and maybe even take in the orphans around them. I also hope to do foster care, if the need arises. Perhaps caring for children whose mothers died in childbirth until they are old enough to be returned to biological family, who shouldn’t have to loose them too.
So when my I met my husband Kevin and he told me he had a burden for Kenya, I knew that God could use each of my gifts there. I love Liberia, but also knew I would learn to love Kenya just as much if that was where God wanted me.
When Kevin and I returned from Liberia the summer of 2010 (we got married in January of 2010), I was emotionally and spiritually burnt out. I had dealt with things I’d never thought I’d have to deal with, experienced heartbreak, disappointment and even the deaths of some of the children I loved, and struggled through a very difficult job situation. That fall we began our year-long training at the Master’s Mission. God used a slow-paced life, and a lot of time studying His Word, to begin the healing process in my heart. It took several years, and some very significant revelations about the organization I was working for, for me to fully grasp what had happened, why it had been so difficult, and how God had specifically used me during my time in Liberia. With my heart healed, I began praying that God would show our family just where he wanted us to minister, and that He’d give me a burden for that country. During a visit to the Master’s Mission we were specifically asked to join another missionary family up in the desert of Northern Kenya. Through a lot of prayer and assessing of practical realities of what our ministry would look like in Kenya versus Liberia, I along with Kevin, felt the Lord was calling us to Kenya. Soon after (about 2 years ago now) we began actively preparing to move to Kenya as career missionaries.
This journey has been what I thought it would be, and it’s been nothing like I thought it would be. I’ve questioned God’s plan in some areas, and in others I’ve seen it clear as day. Now, as we are just weeks away (November 14th!) from moving to Kenya, my heart is full. Filled with memories of what brought us here. Filled with the emotions that have come in the ups and downs of getting to the place. Filled with anticipation for what lies ahead and waiting to see how God is going to pull the final details together (like selling our vehicles and raising the additional financial support we need). Filled with the hope that “he who has begun a good work in me, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6) Will you join us in praying for this journey?