Raising and Training Disciples

Toys are spread all over the floor. The two older boys are wrestling and fighting and need disciplined. The youngest needs a nap, and we have an appointment to get to in an hour. Pick up that mess! Stop fighting! Please stop crying! There’s so much noise and chaos every day. This situation can be summed up in the title “stay at home mom,” which our American culture uses often. But how does this work in other cultures? How do missionary moms do it? Read this story by Krista Horn, missionary mom at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, to find out.

Recently I was asked, yet again, what it is that I do here. Besides the kids, that is. I’ve been asked this question many times, in various forms. This time it was phrased, “The kids are enough, I know [insert awkward laugh], but have you been to the Peds ward or the orphanages? I mean, what’s your thing?” I was honest: I don’t do anything. And I wasn’t embarrassed or guilt-ridden with that reply.

Long before we reached the mission field, and even before we had kids, I used to vex over this issue. What would I do? What would be my ministry, my “thing”? And how would I ever accomplish said ministry if we had kids in tow? What would it look like to be the non-ministry spouse as we headed overseas?

Well, after five years of motherhood and one year of missionaryhood, I’ve come a long way in my understanding of this issue. I currently don’t vex about it. The pressure to give an answer to the question “What do you do?” let alone give an answer the inquirer wants to hear, simply isn’t there. Not only have I given myself the grace to “do nothing” but take care of our three very busy and active little boys, but I’ve really begun to understand the fact that the value of “doing” and “accomplishing” is a cultural value – a high value in our American culture but not necessarily in this Kenyan culture. And that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s often a very good thing.

It’s no secret that our Western culture is work-driven and success-oriented. It’s a wonderful thing in that it’s allowed our culture to come so far in areas like medicine and education and technology and infrastructure and countless other things. And being a Type A, super organized, task-oriented, efficient person, I love this part of our culture. Actually, I appreciate it so much that, since living here in Kenya, I’ve often had to fight my own cultural superiority when I see inefficient systems in place that perpetuate poverty and disease and lack of education. Sometimes I want to shout, “If you would just do something then it wouldn’t be this way!” And that’s partly true. There is certainly room for this culture to grow in just getting things done. However, I’ve been able to pull back a bit this year and see glimpses of the bigger picture, which has shown me that our own work-driven culture doesn’t get it all right, and this less-efficient culture doesn’t get it all wrong.

Here’s what Kenyan culture does really well: focus on people. Case in point: stopping to greet people is very important here. It’s unfathomable to the average Kenyan why you would have anything so important to do that it would cause you to breeze past them without stopping to say hello and shake hands at the very least, if not ask about the family as well. Another case in point: when you meet someone for the first time, the question “So what do you do?” never comes up. Why would that be pertinent? Most people are subsistence farmers anyway and wouldn’t be able to regale you with tales of their career path to date. On the contrary, people are not generally concerned with what anyone does, but they are concerned with how your family is doing and whether your children are well and how they’re enjoying the break from school. The people here care about people.

And that is something I’ve grown to love about this culture.

It’s also something that’s inherently hard to adjust to because, truth be told, it’s tiring to greet so many people along the way. It makes going anywhere twice as long as it should be, which is especially hard when you have a tired toddler on your back who really needs to get home and take a nap, or when you’re just simply not in the mood to say hello to anyone. And Eli often has a hard time coming and going from the hospital because there are so many “speedbumps” along the way (which is a Kenyan expression used to describe being late because of greeting people). But the point remains: this culture cares way more about people than our own culture tends to, and that is a good and godly thing.

So what do I do at Tenwek? Well, technically I’ve been teaching a PreK/K class for MKs for the past five months as well as coordinating all the holiday gatherings for the missionary community, which is something I suppose. But more than anything, what I do is take care of our kids. I feed them and clothe them and change their diapers and wipe their bottoms and teach, discipline, and encourage them. In other words, I have three little disciples in my charge every day, and mothering them is what I do each day as a missionary.

To read the rest of the story, visit Eli and Krista’s ministry blog at storiesinmission.blogspot.com.

ACT: There are many missionary moms out there, working hard to raise and train disciples of Christ. Will you send a word of encouragement to some of them? Here’s what you can do: Post a comment on this blog story—or a message if you prefer something more private— with your word of encouragement, and we will get it out to the moms on the field.

A Dream Come True

The passion burned inside her and she knew what she must do. She was going to become a nurse. People needed her, and she knew she had to do something about it. Do you ever feel that dream, that burning passion pulling you to serve others? Read more to learn about how Christine Stanfield, missionary to Uganda, took her passion to be a nurse and not only achieved it but also let God multiply it and mold it into something bigger than she first imagined.

Jeff and Christine Stanfield

Last week I renewed my nursing license. We drove across the city to the office of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council. On the way I reminisced through my childhood dream, my dream of being a nurse one day. I wanted to help people.

June of 1981 my dream became a reality. I graduated from nursing school. November of the same year I received my official registration (RN) from the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Hooray! I worked as a hospital nurse for nine years in Oregon, learning much and helping many people. Through nursing I connected people to Jesus. I loved my work.

Little did I know that ten years later I would become a KRN; a registered nurse in Kenya. My dream multiplied. I was Christine Stanfield, RN, KRN. My avenue for helping people multiplied as well. Oh, how I loved teaching nursing students, in Tenwek School of Nursing, how to help people. My students helped more people than I ever could as just one nurse. They connected many people to Jesus. I loved my work.

Imagine my surprise when 21 years later God invited Jeff and me to join Him in what He is doing in Uganda. We moved to Kampala, the capital city, in 2012. For the first year I observed and I listened. I learned much. Then my dream multiplied again. I went through the process to be registered as a nurse in Uganda. Now I am Christine Stanfield, RN, KRN, URN (Uganda Registered Nurse). I don’t work in a hospital and I don’t teach in a nursing school. I still help the people God brings my way.

Sometimes they come to my door. Sometimes I go to where they are playing sports. Once in a while I give advice on medication dosages or clarify medical reports for people unpracticed in reading the medical language. I teach community health lessons, helping people know how to help themselves and others. I take blood pressures and pray with pregnant women as I hand out a maternity delivery kit, called a Mama Kit. I have many opportunities to give spiritual care, connecting people to Jesus. I help people. I love my work.

At a sports tournament (Photo credit: Christine Stanfield)

I had a dream and God multiplied it. I am a nurse. I help people, connecting them to Jesus. I love my work.

ACT: Take time today to write down or think about some of the dreams God has for you. Then sit in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you need to do next. Give these dreams to God, and He will multiply them. God is waiting for you to ask Him. Who knows how many people’s lives you will impact if you let Him guide you.

True Colors

Ned and Marlene McGrady are support staff serving in Member Health. They have updated their blog and are sharing great updates, upcoming trips, and ministry opportunities that you can support with prayer. Will you pray for the McGradys as God uses them on the mission field?

“We are coming up on the end of March and it is time for us to travel to Kenya, Africa. We have a wonderful opportunity to share in a five day retreat with nearly 70 missionaries and 45 missionary kids (Mk’s).  We will be joining our retreat speakers, former WGM President, Dr. Hubert Harriman and his lovely wife, Sarah as well as other workers including Mike Banks our Mk Coordinator in what we believe will be an awesome week of refreshment and renewal for our missionaries serving throughout Kenya. We are busy packing lots of goodies to take along to bless our missionaries and Mk’s.  Marlene will be presenting a teaching on True Colors, which is a personality profile learning tool that is interactive and colorful. Missionaries will find out if their color is Orange, Gold, Blue or Green – What’s your color? Marlene is Orange, I am Gold, we both are strong Blue too. Do you want to find out your color? True Colors Personality Test    It will be fun to be at this retreat and we are looking forward to this time so very much. We will be traveling through Detroit and Amsterdam to Nairobi and will spend the next 10 days or so there before returning to Indy. We ask an interest in your prayers as we go to minister. Pray for our travels and that our ministry may be effective in encouraging and supporting our missionaries. We love this ministry of coming alongside of missionaries and we are so thankful for the opportunity to do it. We know that it is only possible because of the support and prayers you give. Thank you.

“Over the past month we spoke in several churches and were able to visit with some of you while we traveled to Michigan, Florida  and Kentucky. We were thrilled to speak at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Jackson, MI, Ranchero Village Chapel, Largo, FL, Wesley Chapel UM Church, W. Melbourne, FL. and Asbury University, WGM Global Cafe’, Wilmore KY.

“It is always a joy for us to connect with our team of supporters as well as to meet new friends. God is working to help raise mission awareness in His church and we are excited about the prospects of reaching more people for Christ in these days. We are always interested in promoting the work of missions and we are happy to connect with you or your church. Just gives us a shout!

“We had a wonderful commissioning service at WGM Marion, on March 16 when we commissioned nine missionaries to full time service. God met with us in a very special way and we sensed His anointing on the service and on these missionaries. WGM is on the move and great things are happening. Our leadership is casting a large vision to double the impact of WGM around the world. We believe that God has uniquely positioned WGM to be a key part of reaching our world for Christ. It is exciting to see the momentum build as we continue to look toward growth and positioning WGM to reach out.

“Well it is time to finish packing and we will soon board the plane. We will think of you and give thanks to God for you as we travel one more time in Jesus’ Name. We would love to hear from you and learn how we can pray for you. May the Lord Bless you and keep you in His care.”

Chogoria Chaplains’ Excellent Work

Jim and Martha Ritchie are missionaries working in medical training and discipleship at Chogoria Hospital in Kenya. In their most recent ministry blog update, they speak about the wonderful work the chaplains are doing at Chogoria despite the government doctors’ strike. Learn more about how God is using those in His service at Chogoria to lift up the poor in spirit.

“The Chaplains in Chogoria continue to carry an enormous burden of care.  Right now in Kenya, the government doctors have been on strike for three months, and many of the patients who would normally go to the government hospitals have sought care at the Mission Hospitals.  Consequently, the workload for Chogoria has increased dramatically.  Sadly some of the government-sponsored doctors who work at Chogoria felt compelled to join the strike, so staffing is decreased despite the increased workload.  In the middle of the struggle are our magnificent Chaplains.

“Every month, our Chaplains produce a report of their activities.  I thought I might reproduce their most recent report here to give you an idea of their wonderful work.  They don’t just sit around in the office waiting for work.  They are out in the wards and offices and waiting areas and counseling rooms, actively doing the King’s work.  I am intensely proud of them.  Please pray for them and for all the Chogoria staff who are carrying the day, showing the compassion of Christ to patients who otherwise may feel abandoned.”

To continue reading the Ritchies’ blog, visit chogoriastories.blogspot.com for stories and statistics about how God is working. If you’re interested in serving at Chogoria, visit www.wgm.org/kenya for more information about available ministry opportunities and how you can get involved.