15 December 2017

JOURNEY OF HOPE

raIn June 2011, my husband Brian and I set out on a trip through Malawi and Kenya. Having worked in theological education in Kenya for eight years while our children were younger, we were interested to return to Africa and in particular to meet local people who had faced specific challenges in their lives. What we discovered was one person after another confronted by difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances, unbowed by their situation, strong in faith, and determined with God’s help to create a better future for their family and community.

Our journey began unpropitiously with an email advising us to, “Turn left down a small unmarked road shortly after leaving the airport. When you meet the Mzuzu road, turn left and keep going for 350 kilometres.“ “What happens if we turn left down the wrong small unmarked road?” I worried, in the safety of Ireland. “Three hundred and fifty kilometres is a long way to go in the wrong direction.”

Pragmatic is my husband’s middle name. “We can’t get lost in Malawi. There’s only one main road going north from the airport.” “That’s when you were there years ago,” I persisted. “Things will have changed.”

Just how much things had changed and how we survived the unpredictable and sometimes hilarious moments of this journey through Africa, provides the backdrop for Journey of Hope. So many acts of faith and courage go unreported. As we travelled through Malawi and Kenya, we met national Christians who had overcome extraordinary challenges in their lives to share Christ and model Christian discipleship. Christians in Africa face profound challenges including poverty, female circumcision, polygamy, child abuse and HIV. As we talked to people in such circumstances, we were impressed by the way individual Christians were not only coping with their situation, but developing ministries of reconciliation, and offering education, health care, and new ways of living to their own people. In many cases their lives had been significantly impacted by mission personnel from Ireland who were living out the love of Christ in a land and culture not their own. The future for sub- Saharan Africa lies, to a remarkable degree, in the hands of the church. Journey of Hope contains a vivid series of illustrations of how this redemptive work is being undertaken.

In Journey of Hope, the story of our journey runs alongside the life journeys of those we met on our travels. For both them and us, hope emerges as the theme, as together we look beyond present circumstances to see God working out his plan through his people.

Jean Gibson

Jean is happy to talk to groups about her experiences in Africa. If you would like to host an event with Jean, contact brianjeangibson@yahoo.co.uk