As a book-hungry child, I discovered my father’s extensive library early on, and soon fell in love with the many missionaries who lived on his shelves – CT Studd, Gladys Aylward, David Livingstone and many more.  It didn’t take long for me to conclude that missionaries were exciting and extraordinary people, and the seeds of my own sense of calling fell deeply into the fertile soil of my child-heart.

Amongst the books was a series called Jungle Doctor, by Dr Paul White, a medical missionary to Tanzania (known as Tanganyika at the time). I devoured them, reading and re-reading them as eagerly as other children read fairytales. I suppose that they might be considered politically incorrect in today’s climate, but they produced in me an intense longing to be a missionary.

Although my father was a pastor, it was the missionary life he longed for, but with 4 children, my mother had no vision for it. Undeterred, my dad got involved with rural African churches wherever he could, and I spent many a Sunday afternoon in the dusty warmth of a crowded simple building that rang with the call and response singing so characteristic of black South African vocal tradition. That music moved me then – it still moves me today, and if you knocked on my door unexpectedly, you might think there was a vast African congregation in my kitchen. That’s how loud I like my music 😊.

When God called us, a young couple with 3 children, there was no hesitation and we literally put everything up for sale the very next day to go to Bible school. After a few years as itinerant ministers in the UK, God spoke about throwing in our lot with Reinhard Bonnke and Christ for all Nations back in Africa. Once again there was no hesitation. I absolutely believe obedience must be instant to be real, and, in fact, our Lord Jesus had a lot of hard things to say about wasting time once the challenge comes (Luke 9:57-62). Both obedience and disobedience are costly, but often the choice is simply between pleasing God or feeling the need to please people. Disobedience costs more than obedience ever will.

It is true that missionary evangelism did not look like the missionary life of my childhood daydreams, but the seeds sown then now burst into heart-stopping life – one that produced its own stories, some of which are in Best Beloved’s wonderful book “Into the unknown”. Obedience is seldom easy, but it is exciting and enriching. It can be frustrating, but it is also invigorating. At times it is painful or even dangerous, but it is also joy unspeakable and full of glory!

I know of no other life quite like it…