NAIROBI, Kenya –Two dozen new International Mission Board missionaries completed their “Forty Days and Forty Nights” training program, where they experienced nearly six weeks of hands on training which began on Sept. 20.
The newly adopted IMB program seeks to prepare new missionaries not only for situational survival and life in Africa, but also in such areas as basic vehicle repairs and maintenance; supplies and shopping; culture and anthropology; language learning skills; diet, hygiene, health and medical care; spiritual growth; environment and ecology; and travel, communications, security and finances on the field.
Those who survived the vigorous training, which included 24 days of living in a tend in East Africa’s bush and a full week’s stay in a Kenyan village home, all agreed the experience proved to be rewarding.
"It confirmed that God has called me for this," said Kay Frost of First Baptist Church in West Monroe, La. Frost will be serving as strategy coordinator for the Subi people of Tanzania. "This is what I was made to do."
"It makes us more effective more quickly," said Kimberly Samuel of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. "It would have taken me five months to get to where I'm at after only 40 days."
Jody and Emily Jennings of North Wake Church in Wake Forest, N.C., were among those couples taking their children with them during the training. Commenting on the effect the program had on them and their 7-month-old son, Silas, Jody noted, "We can survive whatever the conditions may be -- not just survive, but thrive in conditions much more difficult than those we came from." Jody will serve as a church planter in Jinja, Uganda.
For 15-year-old Nathan Simmons, son of Eddy and Amanda Simmons of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., it was an opportunity to see how his family can minister together.
"It changed my perspective on what our family would be doing," the teenager said. "I thought we'd kind of have a normal life and stay home while dad when out. Now I see how my mom can have a ministry to women, I can have a ministry to other kids. It's not just my dad, we can all have a ministry."
Amanda Simmons noted that living with a Kenyan family gave her a greater appreciation for the lives of the women she'll be ministering to.
"How do you minister to a woman who is busy from 6 in the morning to 6 at night?" Amanda said. "How do you get the Word of God into her life?"
Jack and Judi Sprayberry, the directors of the program, emphasized a need to understand the African people and their way of life.
"Judi and I originally wanted to call the program 'East African Training with Biblical Use, Growth & Study," Jack said. "So, in keeping with the 'acronymophobia' of our organization we would call it 'EATBUGS.'
"However, after a test safari by our regional leaders, it was decided that the name Forty Days, Forty Nights was more appropriate, in keeping with a time of testing, growing and becoming more like the One we are here to serve."