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In the middle of her law degree at Durham University, Mariel Nonis chose to spend her summer break exploring her calling to mission, working with the children at AIM’s Africa Based Orientation and then spending time in Marsabit, Kenya with Anna Kloninger.
Learning about long term
I was first convicted to give up my life for the gospel about six years ago. Since then my understanding of the gospel and missions has deepened, especially as I have pursued opportunities to grow in this area of ministry. About five months of correspondence with different missionary organisations, and many opened and closed doors, led me to AIM and a trip to Kenya. The process of waiting was a really significant part of the journey, and I’m thankful for the lessons in trust that it gave me.
“But it was wonderful to know that through serving families in this way, God was using me in the greater cause of missions.”
The summer of 2014 found me in Kenya with the hope of sharpening my understanding of overseas mission, learning from mission partners and of getting a feel for what mission is actually like on the field. I knew that being in the midst of mission partners, each with their different stories, would fan the flames that God had placed in my heart.
The opportunity that arose through AIM was to help run the children’s programme for new missionaries going through the Africa Based Orientation (ABO). The point of the programme was to equip both parents and children for the work that God had called them to do. Working with children can be a scary thing. Most of the work I did was trying to keep toddlers’ attention spans for more than a minute, distracting them from crying, and changing their nappies. But it was wonderful to know that through serving families in this way, God was using me in the greater cause of missions. In the long run as well, I was so blessed to get to know the mission partners there, to hear the kind of work they were doing in North Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya and Madagascar and to see how wide the scope of mission really is. From the family moving to work on IT services for mission partners, the lady pilot, teachers of missionary kids in RVA, to the many doing the slow, often lonely, work of living among locals to reach them with the gospel, I saw the love of God and the joy of serving him through these amazing people. Such an experience is irreplaceable.
Africa Based Orientation
AIM’s Long-Term missionaries begin their service with a three-week Africa Based Orientation (ABO). While parents enjoy the adult orientation, their children also enjoy a structured programme designed to immerse them into life and ministry in Africa at an age-appropriate level. Helping with the children’s programme is a great opportunity for short termers to serve the long term work amongst the peoples of Africa.
For the glorious cause
God also gave me the chance to live with Anna Kloninger in Marsabit, to experience her life in rural Kenya and to help in her church’s teens camp. Having spent the first half of my trip mostly with non-Africans, it was very different being in a town with a grand total of four of us among the peering eyes of local Kenyans. It was here that I wrestled more with my personal willingness to serve in a different culture, having seen firsthand the struggles of loneliness and isolation that some have to go through for the glorious cause of missions. And glorious it still is, in spite of my own weakness which I felt keenly in Marsabit. “For we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing… And who is sufficient for these things?” As the Lord continues to lead me in my personal journey of sanctification for his glory, I’m thankful for his abundant grace. But I’m also thankful that he has taught me what sacrificial going looks like in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Africa, and that he charges me to ‘send’ just as sacrificially until he bids me ‘go’.