Bob and LuAnn Herring, Founders and visionaries for Africa Connect, share their thoughts about this mission and what God is doing with all those involved.
In 2008, Sue Choquette and I attended a COSIM conference (Coalition on the Support of Indigenous Ministries) at the invitation of Werner Mischke, one of the conference leaders. It was quite eye opening to realize that many others working in foreign missions, even large well-known ministries, were seeing the same thing that we had seen regarding the benefits of partnering with nationals. We have gained a great deal from COSIM; but the metaphor presented by Alex Araujo at that conference has become foundational to Africa Connect - that of the “Powerboat vs the Sailboat”.
The Powerboat represents typically Western reliance on big production, planning, and resources, or a high degree of control; task rules over relationship, business over trust. The sailboat, as with indigenous ministry, is easier to finance and manage with a smaller crew, can change course quickly if needed, and displaces less water, so to speak. It prioritizes relationship and inter-dependence. It is built to cooperate with the wind, recognizing we are powerless to control it. The sailboat also is dependent on a crew that is not only capable, but patient and flexible, working together to anticipate the wind’s changes and respond intuitively as one unit. The journey along the way is as important as the destination; success is realized in faithfulness at your station, and in the joy of sailing. The adventure is learning to work with the wind, tacking when it seems contrary, waiting when it is still, and moving quickly when it stirs. This is the paradigm of Africa Connect.
You may wonder why the Herrings are home in the US when the mission team is on the field in Kenya, when usually it is Bob and LuAnn in Kenya for three months leading the way. This past December, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, and a small tumor was removed January 4. My oncologist scheduled chemotherapy treatments, but graciously allowed me to go to Kenya with Bob for three precious weeks before they began. There in Kenya, in the midst of physical weakness, we saw God being faithful to fulfill His vision once again. Caleb and Eva Senecal, with their four kids, had already planned to be in Kitale for three months, and now found themselves leading the team and taking over most of our responsibilities on the field. We met with the Kenyan staff and leaders, trained Caleb in the administrative and accountability processes, loved on the preschool and IMS kids, and witnessed relationships being forged and deepened. It was a smooth transition for Caleb and Eva, though they would tell you the challenges are very real, the responsibilities weighty. As new team members arrive, including two board members and other AC staff, we are watching with awe as our faithful crew moves to fill in the void, receiving fresh insight and inspiration, and responding as one unit to what the Spirit might be saying in this new season.
The profile picture above was taken at our garden gate as we left Kenya for the long trip home. As you can see, we left with great peace, confident in God that He would finish what He began 13 years ago, and in the US and Kenyan teams to faithfully do their part to not only keep the boat steady, but to take it into new and deeper waters. The boat is getting bigger, but it’s still a sailboat; and we’ve only begun to see what great things God will do, and where His wind will take us!
LuAnn Herring, for myself and Bob.