“We’ve just come to love on the missionaries!”
That was the expression Leigh and I heard often from the ten people from Nashville, Tennessee who came to give support to the SIM Southern Sudan missionary team.
It was a great joy and privilege for Leigh to be invited to speak at their annual spiritual life conference (SLC) at the beautiful Brackenhurst Conference Centre about 40 kms. north of Nairobi, Kenya.
Amazing people make up the SIM team in Southern Sudan but in this blog I want to focus on the Americans who came to Kenya to minister in a support capacity.
The group that came are all ordinary people with jobs and responsibilities, ministries and families who gave up a week of their lives at cost to themselves (they each had to pay their own way). And they gave much more than their time and talent.
We saw them sitting at meal times showing interest in the missionaries. We saw them praying with them. We saw them bringing gifts from home…a drum set, sound equipment, books, new C.D.s, sweets, toys given by the children back at their church, supplies for the children’s activities, gift bags
for each lady with all sorts of goodies (even a tin of chicken…when the missionaries are in Southern Sudan, their diet is very restricted and limited), art supplies and creams and scrubs so that each lady could have a facial later in the week–something most of them had never experienced!
In 2010 Joal Devendorf, a sales representative, and his friend Brent Cundall, founder of World Music Mission, were asked by the SIM Sudan Director, Chris Crowder, if they would consider coming to SLC to help with the worship. As one of them said, “The missionaries were starving for corporate worship in English.” Both Joal and Brent are very involved in worship leading at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. Last year’s experience made such an impact on them that they recruited others to join them this year. As Joal said in an email to Leigh, “we fell in love with the SIM/Sudan team.”
Randy Gardner, a sound engineer and audio visual coordinator, came to make sure that the spoken and sung word was heard clearly.
Others played guitars (including a Dobro Resonator), drums, violin, and even a banjo, much to the delight of some. This group of missionaries were so appreciative of Joal and his team leading them in meaningful worship. One evening Kenyan singers led the worship which was lively and exuberate and Randy had it on YOU TUBE the next day!
Of the ten, 3 moms left their children and husbands to care for the children of the missionaries so that the
se parents could be free to enjoy the conference without worry or concern.
The ladies from Christ Community Church planned a pampering/spa evening for the missionary ladies. Lynelle McDonald, mother of 3 young boys, learned how to give facials from the internet. Almost all of the ladies wanted a facial and since Lynelle only had one evening to do it, I volunteered to help.
I’ve never given anyone a facial before so I just watched Lynelle and did everything she did. After 2 ½ hours, we had done 14 facials each. The ladies loved it and since most of them had never had a facial before, they didn’t know if we were doing it right.
I was privileged to sit in on one of their debriefing sessions and was deeply touched with their admission of the transformation that had taken place in their lives as a result of being in a serving situation. At one point Joal admitted that “I’m not equipped to cope with a 100 degree (Fahrenheit) environment but I can support missionaries by doing something like this.”