We come to the end of our active time with Africa Inland Mission, and the last of these blog posts. We want to give testimony to God’s great faithfulness.
We look back with wonder and gratitude for our years of being involved in Africa, a wonderful and beautiful continent, with many kind and faithful people. We first visited Kenya in 2010, spent a month there in 2011, and soon after became full-time members of Africa Inland Mission (AIM). We lived in Nairobi during 2014, 2015 and some of 2016, and were based back in the UK from mid-2016, though I (Mark) have made a number of trips back to Nairobi since then.
We are very grateful to each person who has been interested in sharing this journey with us, through reading this blog, or being in touch, or praying along with us.
We felt well prepared by Africa Inland Mission, and the ongoing support – from AIM, Tumaini colleagues, our home church, and from many others – was tangible. We loved living in the small apartment we were allocated, despite the unreliable electricity and water – and having ‘just enough’ was, indeed, enough!
While Mark was working at Tumaini, I (Barbara) had the opportunity to teach English to pastors and wives on the campus of Africa International University (AIU). English is the language of education in Kenya, so students needed English not only for their studies but also for cross-cultural communication. I worked alongside a missionary from the U.S.A., and it was such a privilege to get to share in the lives of these Africans who had come to AIU from many African nations – Tanzania, South Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC and Burundi – not only in our English lessons, but in a Ladies’ Bible Study that we led in their homes.
I (Mark) loved the mix of Western & African staff at Tumaini, and even the fact that the ‘westerners’ came from 6 different countries and three continents; they were a fantastically professional and supportive team, united in heart around the work God had given us to do.
During these six years, the team at Tumaini has worked with many hundreds of individual missionaries, couples or families, and undertaken many thousands of counselling sessions of one kind or another. But counting numbers is not what matters; behind each of these is a person or family who faced difficult times serving as missionaries in Africa, and who came to Tumaini for help. And each of these people was working in Africa, believing they had been called to share the good news of Jesus’ free forgiveness for sin with any who would listen.
Many of these people who came to Tumaini were in such difficulty that their work was threatened, and were considering returning to their home countries prematurely. We cannot tell how many missionaries Tumaini helped sufficiently that they have continued to serve in Africa rather than return to their home country, but we know that is the case for very many.
The teams working at Tumaini are skilled professionals – counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists – but each of them knows that their skill is insufficient for the task we face, for the issues faced are not just practical and psychological, but spiritual, and it is the work of God alone who heals, restores and sustains each person, including the members of our team. We were just tools in His hands.
Together we have faced ongoing struggles of being short staffed, and we have wrestled in prayer repeatedly, for example about whether we could maintain the work of the Kampala centre which opened in 2016. But through it all God has been faithful, and two new staff are coming to Kampala later this year.
I handed over my responsibilities as Clinical Team Leader last November, and have just passed on the recruitment work to another colleague from Tumaini who is now in the US. So, at this point my responsibilities have come to an end, though I continue to mentor the new Clinical Team Leader.
We have personally been through difficult times, though they were not primarily events in Africa. Rather, unexpected and very difficult family circumstances brought us back to the UK earlier than we expected in mid-2016. Yet we look back and see the many great kindnesses shown us – people who housed us for 15 months while we had nowhere to live, and many people who supported us and prayed with us, and we found that God did not let us down.
Back in the UK in 2016, it took quite a while to discover that I could still be useful at Tumaini and, with Barbara supporting me, even continue to lead the Nairobi and Kampala teams, despite being 4,500 miles away. Over the last three years I have made 4 trips back to Kenya and one to Kampala, Uganda.
Now, we have done our best to ‘end well’ and leave things in others’ hands to continue to the work.
We have learned more of trust, reliance on God through prayer, leaving things in God’s hands, and learnt more of patience. We have learnt to be content with what we have and to trust God for his provision. And we have found God to be faithful in all our circumstances.
For the future
We have learned that Jesus is our Shepherd-King, as the Bible teaches. As King, he commanded us to “Go!”, and as Shepherd he said “I will go with you!”. And he led us in unexpected directions, but always went with us. Now he says, “Retire!”, but gently adds, “I will go with you!”, so we are not concerned.
We are adjusting to this change, and suddenly feel very tired. And we are not rushing to fill up the time. We are taking six months to think and pray, in order to discern what comes next – although continuing to support family remains a priority. We are unsure what the future holds, but we know that it is not ‘ours’ to do with just as we want, but rather we seek what God has in mind for us – and his ways are perfect – far more satisfying than anything we could think of!
It’s quite exciting…
- Please continue to pray for the staff and work of Tumaini; more information can be found at: https://tumainicounselling.net
- Please continue to pray for more staff for both the Nairobi and Kampala centres. As new people join, others go on Home Assignment, or (like me) retire. The need is ongoing!
- Please continue to pray for the work of African Inland Mission; more information can be found at: https://aimint.org
- And we would value your continuing prayers for us, as we end one ‘season’ of life and start another.
Bug of the month
I know very little about bugs, but I like noticing and photographing them! And it became traditional to include a bug picture or two at the end of these blog posts.
When J.B.S. Haldane, a British naturalist of the early 20th century, was asked if there were anything that could be concluded about God from the study of natural history, he reputedly replied that, “God must have an inordinate fondness for beetles”. I have read that there are 380,000 catalogued species of beetle, making them the most species-rich group of insects—and insects are the most species-rich group of animals.
I don’t know if Haldane was right, but I do know that God has an unbounded love for all kinds of people.
Now I will have to get used again to looking for UK bugs; but here are two last Kenyan ‘bugs’ I came across.