THE NEWINGHAMS ARE MOVING TO AFRICA!
Yes, it's true. Ginger, Nasko and I have prayerfully decided to move to Sierra Leone, Africa to serve with Richard Miller and Paula Miller at the Bible Telling School and Children's Redemption OrphanageHome.
We're sure that you have tons of questions, so I did a little write up in an attempt to answer them!
1. How did you first learn about Rick and Paula's ministries?
The church where I serve, Athens Christian Church, supports several missionaries around the world and Rick and Paula Miller are two of the main individuals that we provide for. Thus, it was through my connection to the church that I first learned about what Rick and Paula were doing in Sierra Leone.
2. What was your first impression of their work in Sierra Leone?
From the first moment that I heard about their work, I was enthralled. I quickly learned that the Millers were not merely taking a Western form of biblical teaching and forcing it upon people on the other side of the planet, they are using a truly Africa approach. In Sierra Leone, storytelling is a very common part of the culture and the Millers recognized this, and are now communicating the truth of the Gospel through story. If you were to hear one of the pastors that Rick has trained tell a story in a church service, you might recognize it as being one from the Bible. Then again, you might not. Rick’s ministry not only uses foundational stories from God’s Word, but it also uses stories that are culturally connected and important to Sierra Leonians. While the content of the story may vary, the message of each story is always the same: You were once at odds with God because of your sin, but Christ came to redeem you and make that relationship right.
3. How has it affected your life?
Transformation is the word that I thinks best describes how their ministry has impacted me and my family. Because of the things that I saw and heard while with them, I am unable to look at the world around me in the way that I did before I went to Africa. My wife and I were so gripped by the people of Sierra Leone and the ministry that Rick is developing that we have committed to moving there in the fall of 2013.
4. How has it affected your faith?
My faith has grown exponentially because of two reasons: First, I’ve learned that my God is much bigger than I had ever imagined. God doesn’t just meet the needs of His people in Athens, Illinois, He’s also working in the lives of people all across the planet, including the lives of people in Sierra Leone. When you work in a small community and only have regular contact with individuals who live in close proximity to you, it’s easy to have a diminished view of God.
Second, my faith has grown because I’ve gotten glimpses of God’s providence. The Lord has brought together countless details in an effort to help provide for Sierra Leonians, and it has been incredible to stand back and watch Him weave the plans together like a master craftsman creating a work of art.
5. What has been the response from family and friends to your decision to go/become missionaries?
Those that love and care about us have had mixed emotions about our plans to serve in another country. Most every person we have told has been both excited and disheartened; they are thrilled about what God is doing in our lives, but they are saddened because they know that it requires us to leave.
6. What are your plans/goals/visions for your specific ministries?
Ginger and I have committed five years of service to the people of Sierra Leone. Our plan is to serve in two capacities:
First, I, Chance, will be teaching Bible and theology classes at The Bible Telling School, an institution that trains pastors for the ministry. My objective is to share the knowledge I gained in my undergraduate and graduate training with the qualified pastors in Sierra Leone. Beyond that, my hope is that they can use the knowledge gained to explain the Word of God and change the hearts and minds of those individuals who do not know Christ.
Second, Ginger and I will be the directors of Children’s Redemption Orphanage Home, an orphanage that works to meet the physical, spiritual, developmental, emotional and social needs of children. Furthermore, we will work towards uniting the boys and girls with adoptive mothers and fathers, whether it be in Sierra Leone or the United States. Finally, we will also work to change the culture’s negative view of orphans by hosting community dramas that emphasize the need to care for the fatherless, organizing a community group for mothers/fathers and offer classes that communicate God’s love for orphans.
7. What is your timeline for moving?
Our goal is to move there in October of 2013, but these plans are tentative and they depend entirely on how successfully we can raise funds. If we are unable to gather what we need before October of next year, we will be forced to stay and continue raising support. Conversely, if we are able to raise enough funds before that time, it is possible for us to leave sooner.
8. How will your life change? How are you preparing for the changes?
We are learning that our life will change in every way possible when we make Sierra Leone our home. The only electricity that we will have will come from solar panels, generators or wind turbines and the only water we have will come from the ground. At this point, we are making contacts with knowledgeable people in the solar field and water purification field.
While Illinois has a climate that is know for radical and periodic changes, the souther part of Sierra Leone is not the same. My family and I will be enduring six months of dry heat and six months of heat, humidity and rain. In an effort to endure the high temperatures, we have been attempting to not keep our house as cool during the summer months. Furthermore, I’ve been search for a 12 volt air conditioner on the internet like someone who has an obsession!
Regarding food, rice and fish are staples in that region, so we’re not anticipating as many trips to Olive Garden or Red Lobster. As for right now, we’re eating more rice and attempting to simplify our diet.
While these changes might be considered inconveniences, there are many other changes that we believe will be advantageous. In the West, we live by the clock, in Sierra Leone, they live by relationship. In their culture, time with people trumps performance. Additionally, the strong emphasis on family and community living will no doubt positively affect us and our Western mindset of independence and self-sufficiency.
9. How can you get involved?
You can pray for us. This is huge. Pray that God leads and guides us. Pray that He protect us. Pray that He give us wisdom.
You can financially support us. We are going to need to raise funds to support ourselves, 20 children at the orphanage, and 4 full-time caregivers.
If you’d like to help out in any way or learn more about us and our ministry, please send me a message!