One of the most important parts of our trip was the part we couldn't plan: relationships. We were also blown away to find the Lord leading us into some really exciting opportunities for which he's already been preparing Bethany and our kids.
Potential Ministry for Bethany
Never mind the goofball kids in this pic, let me tell you a bit about Bethany. Most of you don't know just how much the Lord has been at work in Bethany in the last five years. I loved her back then, but man, she is getting glorious these days.
We've been discovering recently how gifted Bethany is in counseling. Bethany is a trained doula, and is now in her second year of intensive lay counseling training at the Allender Center in Seattle. I've heard from every woman whom she's attended to through birth, every woman she's met with in 1-1 counseling, and now we are hearing it from her school leaders, "your wife is amazing." To be more specific, the Lord has specially gifted her with an ability to walk with those who are suffering, to grieve with those who grieve, as well as a deep and loving insight into people's hearts paired with an ability to lead people into a greater awareness of God's gracious presence in their lives. She's our secret weapon in advancing the Lord's gracious reign against the kingdom of darkness. This led to a big question for our trip....
What would Bethany do in Africa?
The answer is that she would do what she always does: genuinely befriend and connect with people on a deep level, and gently lead them toward greater trust in the Lord. These pictures exemplify how, along each stop, Bethany would manage to connect with women at a deep level. This was true of old friends as well as new ones. The Lord opened up trusting conversations for her in each place and we started seeing the pattern.
One thing stood out to us during our time in Uganda & Malawi: the Lord has been preparing Bethany all along to not only counsel, but to help train leaders to counsel as well.
A Big Surprise
After working with our friends in the Hospital in Malawi for a few days, Bethany asked Rebecca, "If you could hire two people for the Hospital right now, what would they be?" Bethany was thinking we could recruit some of our surgeon and doctor friends. The answer blew us both away.
"If we could hire anybody for the hospital right now, it would be a marriage counselor and someone to lead our chaplaincy training program."
Along with caring for the fatherless, walking with couples to see the power of the gospel in their marriage, and helping leaders know how to enter into and love those in grief are at the center of Bethany's passions and training.
Its hard to find marriages in Malawi (Uganda too), which are Christian in any real sense. It makes sense too: Christianity has only been around for 3-4 generations, whereas in the West we have inherited a millennium of gospel-wisdom in our marriages. This doesn't mean our marriages aren't a mess. It does mean that in America, we can almost always find a godly couple to help.
The program at Nkhoma Hospital has been up and running for a few years now. I believe it is the only chaplaincy training program in Malawi. These leaders are an ideal place for Bethany to invest her training and skills so they can more effectively comfort those in grief with God's grace. Partnering with African leaders this way allows her to bless people she might not otherwise have access to.
We were so thankful for the Lord to make this need clear to us. It was a huge answer to prayer for to see a big way in which Bethany could be used. So please pray with us that we would know how to best invest in Bethany's training and that the Lord would preserve relationships we began those weeks, and open doors for us to return.