Lucy has a story (starting with a cup of Kenyan tea!) about how God reignited her passion for missions and preaching the gospel of Christ. As we study the book of Acts and learn about the community of believers devoting themselves to fellowship, prayer and sharing their belongings, here is a testimony about how God has been at work in our community.
Can you share some of your missions background and how God first used community to minister to you at The Falls Church Anglican?
My husband and I met and got married in Kenya in 2009. He was sent by The Falls Church Anglican as a missionary through the Society of Anglican Missionaries (SAM), and we did primarily youth ministry, which is late teenage years to about age 35. In a way, we knew that this was like our home church. We continued with missionary work for about six years, and then we transitioned back to the U.S. We were both burnt out, and we were a young family. I don’t know how we survived these six years doing ministry. Sometimes we had 18 young people sleeping over in a two-bedroom apartment. By the time we took a furlough, I thought I had had enough.
My assumption was that we would settle into life here in the U.S. and forget the missionary life for a bit and take a break. What I hadn’t counted on was that it would take so long for my husband to get a job here. That was very hard for both of us when we came back here. Also, being in a new place, it’s very hard for someone who is not from this culture. Things were harder for my husband, and it was hard for me because I felt like I needed to support him. I didn’t have my support system from Kenya. One of the ladies at The Falls Church Anglican invited me to tea and told me about the women’s ministry. I didn’t know what to expect at first. I was eager to go. I went, but I was really very desperate for community.
Every time I came I would end up crying. That’s where I met my friend Lily, who was so kind. I decided I would follow her to her small group. Luckily, I ended up under leaders who were very empathetic. They would just let me be and not try and fix me but allow me to express what it was I was going through. They were kind enough to pray with me. With time I found a place where I could just be. You know the hymn Just As I Am? It was like that. I was just as I was, and I was a mess. I was going through a lot emotionally. I was trying to support my husband emotionally, and he was going through disappointment and applying to jobs. Here I had found a place where I could just be and not have to look proper. They were so keen on making everyone feel like you could come as you are. Two friends, Carmita and Lanita, gave me a ride for two whole years, and I would not have been able to come without them.
Looking back, I could see the fruits of the Holy Spirit through these women. That was the beginning of a beautiful journey because they had accepted me the way I was. I felt free to share what I was going through, and I started making friends. The only different thing I could offer was making Kenyan tea. I got into the habit of inviting people over for Kenyan tea, which is black tea brewed together with milk, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. I hadn’t known how to make friends, but these women had been so gracious. They were kind. I didn’t know how to express things within this context as much - language is very much a relational thing! – but they were patient.
Do you feel that you went looking for these friendships, or did God just drop them into your lap?
I did not go looking for it. I feel like it was just by God’s grace, but there was a response. I responded by making Kenyan tea, and I followed Lily! I find three points. It was these women’s welcome, how they were intentional in the relationship that they offered, and God’s presence – his hands and feet were these women. They were willing to be friends. I think it’s very important when you meet someone new, especially when someone comes from another country, even just a simple hello means a lot. I find that I can’t take it for granted because there are times when you walk by and people will not even look at you. I found that with these women they would actually stop and say hello. That really meant a lot. It meant that they had seen me. I think at first I used to call it the ministry of presence.
One of the big things that happened is that I got pregnant during that period, so we were absolutely broke, and we were still living with my mother-in-law. At first I was very confused. One of the leaders had shared openly what her experience was like when she got pregnant and she wasn’t planning to. And because she had shared it, she gave me the confidence to share my story. I feel like I was very supported. After I had my third child here, we had to find a house because we could not continue living with my mother-in-law with three kids. I remember most of the things we had in our house were given to us by friends, and some of those things were really brand new. Women would say, “I was given this at my wedding and we never used them before. Would you like to use them?”
We were so well cared for. The biggest thing for me I still remember, when my daughter was born, I did not buy diapers for six months because I was so well supplied by friends. We were going through a very hard financial time. I was amazed at God’s provision. First of all, I remember going to the hospital. Here’s the difference between how the world sees things and how the people of God see things— I went to the hospital and the first thing they asked me was, “Did you plan for this baby? Do you want to get rid of it?” That was their story. But the church was like, “That’s OK, we will walk with you through this.” So even though I was so broke, I had so much confidence having this baby.
My two-year-old now, Zuri, her name is a testimony to the goodness of God. It surprises me how God shows up too. One of her names is a combination of my mom’s name and her grandfather’s name, but it spells out the name of God in an African language. I didn’t know! I have a friend from Zambia and when I shared the name, she said, “That is the name of God in my language.” The child came in the midst of the hardship, but I was rejoicing that God had provided. Zuri’s name reminds me of God’s goodness, beauty, and celebrating the joy of the Lord. It was a difficult pregnancy, but I was provided with meals for two months. My husband was shocked. Zuri was welcomed in a way that I had not expected. She is an Ebenezer. God raised a stone for himself, saying, “She is mine. You are mine. You will remember this season.” That was one of those outstanding moments.
Describe how God used community to encourage you to follow Christ wholeheartedly.
When I thought I would give up on missionary things, when I was thinking, “I’m tired, I need a break,” God was like, “No, there are still a lot of people who need to hear the Good News.” Whenever I would go back to Kenya, people here said, “Do you need something? Something to send?” One time I reluctantly accepted cloth diapers to go to a children’s home. I accepted this, and then went to the children’s home. God amazed me in how He did things. There was a story of a baby who was rescued… I thought, “God, you’re showing me the things you do and how you care for people and how your heart is so close to the people.” In a big way I felt like the call that God had placed on my heart to go out and minister to people - even during a time when I was willing to give up - the call was fanned by these women at The Falls Church Anglican. They did not know it, but by His Spirit God stirred up a longing to help. I was prayed for, I was given opportunities to share what we did in the mission field, which I hadn’t anticipated. The women kept me – they unknowingly kept me grounded to the call that God had given when I had lost all perspective and hope. They kept me going back to Kenya.
In 2017, that’s when I delivered the biggest contribution of cloth diapers. I had been on this trip with my sister, we traveled from the capitol city in Nairobi. This time my sister had decided to come with us. That was sadly the last time I was ever going to see her. I’m just glad that the women gave me the opportunity to have my sister with me – they donated the money. So 2017 was the best mission year ever, but it was also the hardest year of my life. My sister was killed. I’m not sure how I would have gone through it without the help of friends. I remember being too tired to clean up my house. I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t have any appetite. I couldn’t cook. They would come and clean the house and take my kids. They set up a GoFundMe. I wasn’t even sure I could make it home to Kenya, but there was $8,000 in one day so my whole family could go.
The biggest thing was how they cared for me, they set up another meal train, they stopped by, they checked in, they cared for my kids, they gave me time. So again God shows up through His people. I had other people around me, but I don’t think they thought to do what these women thought to do. I don’t take it for granted. I remember going home and everybody in Kenya asked me, “Who are those women who do these things for you?” They were so stunned that I had such good friends. I remember back home people were talking about my friends and one thing I’ll never forget, even non-believing friends said (and I’ll never forget the way they said it), “You have such good friends.” Friendship from the women at The Falls Church Anglican was a huge gift. I have friends who meet with me each month to pray for justice for my sister, and I can count on these people to show up. That’s huge.
I came here a very worn-out missionary … but now I am available. To me, it’s amazing that through the most difficult circumstances I have come to realize that there is nothing I would rather do than preach the gospel of Christ. Christ gives life in a very different way. The world wants to make people happy. God wants to make people alive. The most amazing thing to me is that God always provided women after His own heart to walk with me. I didn’t know it and probably they didn’t know it. They were just loving Christ, and I was fighting with Christ. I see myself like Jonah spit out by the whale, going back to do what God asked me to do.
I find it quite amazing that if you had asked me when I came to the U.S. on furlough, “What do you want?” I just wanted a job. I wanted just to be a regular person [not a missionary], but now I feel I have a purpose in whatever I do and wherever I am I want to be doing it for Christ. I want to be life-giving for other people. The women here have ministered to me. Even the minister needs a minister! That’s my story. If I ever encourage anyone, live authentically for Christ … It’s walking together. That brings people to Christ more than any other way.
You're invited into community • Interested in joining a small group study with other young mothers? Connect with the leaders of Babes with Babes, a group of young mothers who get together on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings. You can also contact Laura Hill (email@example.com) for more information.