Interview / Winter 2017

An Interview with John & Madelle Payne

Denise Locker, Healing Lives Editor

We have appreciated the love and dedication of John and Madelle Payne who have faithfully led the ministry of Medical Ambassadors International (MAI). After four years of leadership in East Africa, John and Madelle answered the Board’s call to return to the home office. For eight years John served as President and Madelle as Vice President of Ministries. They are now transitioning out of these leadership roles and serving God with MAI in a new capacity.

Healing Lives (HL): How did you two become interested in MAI originally?
Madelle: We joined a Bible study group made up of several MAI folks, then went on a short-term mission trip with some of them. What we saw in Guatemala was different from the mission efforts that were familiar to us. Community leaders described the dire needs of ten years ago. We could see the present thriving of these farming communities with their restored family relationships and vibrant churches. The wholistic well-being was remarkable. We came home asking how we could be more involved and ended up with John’s joining the MAI Board.

HL: How did you end up going to East Africa to live?
Madelle: When we retired early and joined the mission in 2005, our potential assignment was to a Central Asian country. However, a need arose in East Africa where a proposal had been submitted for a large HIV and AIDS project. MAI was asked to provide the community education about HIV prevention, which required a physician to speak medical terminology with those evaluating the project. Because John is a doctor, we were redirected to East Africa. That proposal never was funded. But God had a special blessing for us: our daughter and her husband were already missionaries near Nairobi, Kenya, where we were based! That was a lovely gift!

HL: What have you learned during your time as President and Vice President?
1. Since God is in control, pleasing Him trumps all other goals.
2. God always empowers what He wants to have happen, but He may intentionally time His interventions late enough for me to learn some “desperate dependence.”

1. The sale of MAI’s former office and the purchase of our new one.
2. Times when I tried unsuccessfully to “push open a door,” only to find another one opening instead.
3. Providing Dr. Ravi to be my replacement.

1. Prayer is REALLY important. I’ve acknowledged this all my life, but now I’ve learned to rely on connecting to God in prayer.
2. This work is slow. To quote a lovely young CHE (Community Health Evangelism) trainer in Kenya, “The road to development is a long, hard road. And it is worth it when you get there!”
3. When you love people, a lot of other tensions and difficulties fade away.

HL: During these last 12 years, what would you say has been your biggest challenge and how did you get through it?
John: My challenge was knowing I did not have enough time or skill to do everything I thought needed to be done.

Getting though it:
1. Learning to pray,
2. Learning to depend on team members (Madelle has been especially important to me, but the whole office and field teams have been amazing.)

Madelle: There have been times of conflict between people under our care; not an unusual situation, but painful.

Getting through it:
1. It made us pray even more!
2. Face-to-face, caring and open dialogue can bring understanding even when agreement is not possible.

HL: What will you be doing now?
Madelle: We will work as “advancement facilitators” in a volunteer capacity. That means partner-encouragers, prayer-mobilizers, and fundraisers. We are thrilled with what God is doing around the world through MAI and seek to share that vision with others who may want to join the team.

John: We’ll have more time for face-to-face and telephone visits, making sure MAI’s present donors get fully included in what God is doing. There will also be more opportunity to visit MAI work with others who are interested in seeing it firsthand.

HL: Is there anything you would love for people to know or understand?
Madelle: It has been an enormous privilege to be part of Medical Ambassadors for the past 20 years—on the Board, as field people, and in the home office. We have gained far more than we’ve been able to give. And now we’re thrilled with the option of handing over the reins to Dr. Ravi as president. We’re just delighted that we can continue to serve in a new role.

John: Retirement does not seem to be a biblical principle, but giving your all for Christ is God’s desire. In the process of serving through MAI, we have learned the burden Jesus asks us to carry is light. This makes for a very fulfilling life, with a combination of work, praying, giving, and rest. We are getting to see more and more how wonderful Jesus is.

HL: What’s the bottom line for you two?
John & Madelle: Jesus is the bottom line. If we can serve Him and point others to Him, we’re happy. Life is very rewarding any time we love God and love people.

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