Annette* shares her story as she responds to God’s call to return to Africa as a missionary.
I grew up in a nominally Christian home. I attended Sunday school as a child and then spent many years irregularly attending a number of different churches. Ten years ago I became a Christian after moving to Nottingham. The first weekend when I arrived in Nottingham, I decided to go to church as I was desperate to make friends. I was warmly welcomed by people at church so I stayed. It is here that the message of the gospel captured my heart like it had never done before. God helped me understand the meaning of sin and the significance of Jesus’s death. I did not want to continue living as God’s enemy – I repented of my sin and said ‘I will’ to the call to follow Jesus.
Affecting hearts and minds
George, Annette’s* minister, shares about the church’s role in supporting mission.
We see it as a fantastic privilege and deep responsibility to send and support missionaries. Over the past decade or so a number of people have been sent from our church around the world. We’ve had a long term partnership with AIM – and a number of our members work in the Nottingham office. But it’s the first time we’ve had the joy of sending a member overseas to join an AIM team. We have a careful process for recognising and sending missionaries which corresponds well with the way AIM works in calling members and then identifying suitable teams. As well as being actively involved in recognising the call God has placed on someone’s life, we are prayerfully committed to work with our missionaries and their mission agency to develop a meaningful sending plan. Once someone is on the field, as well as personal supporters, our mission group looks to provide thoughtful partnership, regular communication, debriefs on return, regular support and accountability, as well as ongoing prayer – both publicly and personally. An annual world mission Sunday and missions board in our front entrance looks to keep world mission and our missionaries in people’s hearts and minds.
All Christians are called to mission
I regularly heard about cross-cultural mission at my church. Although my initial fascination with mission turned into interest, deep down I believed that missionaries were Westerners, not Africans. Eventually, after some convincing that in fact all Christians are called to mission, I attended an ‘Into Africa’ day with AIM in 2013. God fuelled my desire for mission even more on that day. I learnt about the vast numbers of people groups in Africa who have not yet heard the gospel – people who will not hear, unless people are sent to go and tell them about Jesus. God in his goodness provided people from my church family (and elsewhere) to gently, patiently and prayerfully guide and walk alongside me to explore this burden for mission God had placed on my heart. God also provided the opportunity to join two AIM short term teams to Africa. These trips served to further impress the transformative power of the gospel and the required obedience, on my part, to be willing to ‘go’ to the unreached peoples of Africa and tell them about Jesus.
People sometimes ask me if I will use my pharmacy skills as I serve in Africa. The reality is, I don’t know, and I don’t mind either way. God has blessed me with a variety of gifts, skills and experiences, including a cross-cultural upbringing. I believe that he will use these in different measures to enable me “to do good works, which he prepared in advance for me to do” Ephesians 2:10. I am trusting him to make clear the team and location to serve him.
*Annette’s name has been changed as she considers whether God might be calling her to serve in a creative access nation.