Dr. John Payne, Advancement Facilitator and former President of MAI
Recently, as outgoing President of Medical Ambassadors International, I took a trip to Africa with my wife, Madelle, and the incoming President, Dr. Ravi Jayakaran. It was a wonderful time of learning from one another and passing the baton into capable hands. During the trip we visited Uganda, Kenya, and other countries in East Africa. Here are a few journal entries from our trip.
June 25-27 Flying with Dr. Ravi Jayakaran
What is it like to spend 24 hours sitting next to one of the pioneers of Christian Community Development while travelling? It’s a time full of fascinating stories of what God has done. I am so impressed with Ravi’s gentle respect for what people with very little are able to do for themselves—when they choose their opportunities and discover how much God loves them in the process.
Ravi also has many questions for me. He says he learns best by asking questions, and he absorbs answers voraciously.
June 27-29 Meeting with African Regional Coordinators (RCs)
All the MAI Regional Coordinators know a lot about the work Dr. Ravi has done with other organizations. Some have heard him speak at conferences, but all are eager to know what he is like as a person. As they hear his life story they discover his insightful ideas come out of a warm, deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Ravi does not have as much experience with implementing change through Community Health Evangelism (CHE), but he shows wonderful understanding of the core values of CHE as well as the ways CHE has helped address many difficult problems.
June 29 Visit to East Africa CHE Internship Center
As the Regional Coordinator group disperses, Ravi takes the opportunity to visit one product of Tirus and Winnie Githaka’s vision. Ravi is impressed. However, significant steps are still needed to make the center fully functional. Ravi shows more knowledge of farming and water issues than I expected.
June 30 Dr. Ravi meets Dr. Chris and Jane Palacas, Area Coordinators for Uganda
Thirty-two years of humble, patient service by the Palacases has left the door to CHE wide open all over Uganda. It is impressive to see how positively their work has been received by all levels of the Church of Uganda. Today, despite getting to the church office much later than we expected, we met the head of the Education Department, to which CHE has been assigned.
July 1-3 Highlights of North Mbale (Eastern Uganda)
-Dr. Ravi preached on Sunday in church and God used him powerfully. Nearly one-third of the congregation came forward to rededicate their lives to Jesus and ask for individual prayer. It was awesome!
-Villages proudly showed off water pots, fuel-saving stoves, dish-drying racks, and agricultural improvements that have raised everyone’s standard of living. It’s all “appropriate technology,” easily replicated.
-There is strong CHE support from Bishop Samuel Gidudu of N. Mbale.
-Children’s CHE clubs are found in many local schools. In one school all the kids put on a song-fest for us. Ravi taught them a song too.
July 4-7 Highlights of Ruwenzori and Kisogo (Western Uganda)
-Strong support is expressed by three more Bishops.
-There is outstanding integration of CHE into the curriculum of Bishop Burnham University.
-In this part of Uganda there are new variations on Children and Youth CHE, including a band—very proud of their new instruments and uniforms!
-Very successful women’s CHE programs are found in this area.
-We saw a wonderful balance between physical and spiritual impact.
July 7 The drive back to Kampala
-Great chances to debrief with the Palacases and look forward to the future of CHE in Uganda and all of East Africa.
-Much of Ravi’s advice reflects both his excellent leadership experience and skill, and his prayerful dependence on God’s wisdom. (I am quietly praising God for His gift of Ravi to MAI as our new leader.)
July 8 The return to Nairobi
-I watch Ravi talk about Jesus with strangers. He is a master of making casual discussion turn spiritually significant.
-In Nairobi, Ravi and I participate in a joint CHE Kenya staff and board meeting. I am delighted to see how their faithful support of me as past MAI Regional Coordinator and later President is transferred to Dr. Ravi with great excitement.
July 9 Ravi returns to the U.S.
I stay in Kenya with Madelle in order to visit our daughter and son-in-law and two of our grandkids who have lived in Kenya as missionaries for many years. We've had a great trip!