A missionary who has recently returned to the UK shares their mission story with us, and how it began with joining a TIMO team in Samburu, Kenya.
I’ll never forget the first time I went into my new home in Samburu, Kenya. As the sun began to set one Sunday evening, the team dropped me and my housemate off at the tin can that we would call home for the next two years. Swathes of curious neighbours, at that point strangers, had come to see who these strange white people were who had come to live there. After quickly unloading our things, the rest of the team said their farewells and were off. We had no phone network or internet connection, no idea how to find the path to any of our teammates’ homes, and about six words of the local language at this time. If anything were to happen in the night like a snake bite or illness then we had no idea what to do. Despite being surrounded by people, I felt incredibly lonely, almost abandoned.
From strangers to friends
Well, we survived the night and strangers became friends, paths down the hill became familiar and communication in the local language became possible. But I never forgot that feeling. I realised that too often I live in such safety that there was never any need to depend upon God or to pray. But boy did I pray that night! Being part of TIMO enabled me to be stretched and challenged in ways I would never have agreed to if I had known about them beforehand! But that’s the wisdom of God because I grew and learnt so much through those challenges. I learnt how important prayer is. I learnt how to depend upon God. I learnt how to be creative in making connections with people with the barest amount of language. I learnt how important community is and to be present in the important cultural and family moments there. I learnt how to share the gospel in culturally relevant ways. The list goes on and on.
A lot of these values and lessons run through the core of TIMO and its goals and values. Being part of that team has made such a difference to what I went on to afterwards. I joined another team, teaching English on the islands in the Indian Ocean and, whilst I learnt a lot there too, I kept coming back to the values that we had as a team in Kenya. They had become ingrained in me as I sought to make connections with people, took the posture of a learner, rather than a teacher, and discovered how to share the gospel through rich relationships in a culturally comprehensible way.
Living by faith
As I go on from there, settling back into the UK, I realise how much the temptation is there to feel safe. But if I’m safe and comfortable all the time, then I won’t grow; I won’t realise the potential that I have as God’s image bearer with God’s message. I need to continue to step out in faith even as I return to work in the UK. For this reason, I am so thankful that I was part of a TIMO team in rural Kenya.