Q How long have you been serving as a missionary? As a NAB missionary?
We first came to Cameroon in 1979. We were NAB missionaries for nine years, primarily in the 1980s, and then we lived in the States before returning in 2004. So that makes nearly 20 years here.
Q How would you describe your first year on the mission field?
After 6-8 months in Cameroon I came up with a new definition of “missionary.” A missionary seems to be someone who does lots of things they don’t have training for or know how to do, but since someone needs to do it, with God’s help they do their best. In my case, I was stretched by homeschooling, writing lessons for the national church’s Women’s Union manual, and even sewing a windsock for the Mbingo airstrip. (I kid you not!)
Q What has been the most rewarding part of your work?
Being encouraged and challenged by Christian women leaders here, including (especially in the early years) non-literate Christian leaders. Their commitment to church activities and serious memorization of Scripture put me to shame.
We spent our first year in Cameroon at Mbingo Baptist Hospital, then we were transferred to Banso. Thirty years later we were again posted at Mbingo. When I attended the church Women’s Meeting, I met six of the same women who were my friends there thirty years earlier. Experiencing this kind of faithfulness is rewarding!
Q What is something that would surprise others about mission work or the people you are called to serve?
Quite a few people seem to think that missionaries are somehow “special” people. We aren’t doing something extraordinary; we are just being obedient to where we think God is sending us. We aren’t “super-Christians.” We have our struggles the same as everyone else.
Working in another culture can be very frustrating at times (yes, every week, every day, too), but the assurance of the calling and the rewarding times are what keeps us here.
Q What are some of the factors that lead you to become an overseas missionary through the NAB?
I’d like to change the question a bit. In my thirty years of experience with NAB international missions, I have never wished I had come to Cameroon under one of the so-called “faith missions.” There are many advantages of coming with a denominational mission. NAB is big enough to have the expertise needed in assisting missionaries, but small enough to be flexible for individuals’ needs. They are also small enough that when you have an issue or a problem to discuss, you have access all the way to the top, if necessary. The people in the home office know you and care about you; you are not just a name and number.
Q What advice would you give to those considering overseas missions?
1. Get involved cross-culturally at home (immigrants, refugees, international students).
2. Continue to work on your own spiritual growth and discipleship. Do not limit your view of the Gospel to a “ticket to heaven,” but how can you be involved in the Kingdom of God here and now?
3. Don’t expect God’s call to missions to be written in the sky. What gifts and interests has he given to you? What affirmation do you get from your Christian friends?
4. Read and take classes in theology, yes, but also in mission’s application, missionary anthropology, country studies, discipleship, etc. Learn more about the people God has put on your heart. Look for those people in your home town and befriend them.
Q How can people pray for you?
Pray that the day-to-day stresses do not bring discouragement.
Pray for balance in work and free time, friendships and solitude, etc.
Pray for spiritual health and good mentoring opportunities.
Pray that the medical residents we are training at Mbingo (in surgery and internal medicine) will go out to strengthen mission hospitals, and that some will become the next generation of medical missionaries.
Pray that God will raise up the next generation of medical missionaries to continue the vision of Mbingo as a referral teaching hospital.