Share our Story: Experiences with Ray of Hope in Kenya

Our next Share Our Stories post features Rev. Cynthia Williams and her experiences serving with the Ray of Hope ministry in Kenya.
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 Can you tell us a little about your background? I grew up in Elizabeth City, NC and was raised Southern Baptist. My home church is First Baptist Church in Elizabeth City. I was always interested in missions and spent many summers at Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly at Foreign Missions week. I went to Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC where I majored in Religion and Philosophy. I met my husband there in “Baby Greek” class. We were married in the summer of 1976. I graduated in 1977 and together we went to Lexington, KY to attend Lexington Theological Seminary. (It’s a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) seminary). We were ordained and served churches in Kentucky, Georgia, and North Carolina. We moved back to NC in 1989 for me to complete a residency in Pastoral Care at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. My husband Larry developed Parkinson’s Disease and we retired from parish ministry in 2003. We visited 28 churches in the Piedmont Triad area trying to find a place that we could call our church home. The Lord finally led us to Kernersville Moravian church and we moved our membership there in 2008. I’ve been active there in the missions and music programs. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Kenya twice, and Peru once. At this point I’m retired and I turned 62 this year. Currently I’m running a home-based business to finance my mission trip habit.
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 What did you do? Our team in 2016 helped build keyhole gardens, and refurbished a large chicken house. We also led a Saturday Bible School event that hosted more than 300 children from the neighboring bush communities. We worshiped in local churches and formed connections with local pastor’s wives by distributing pillow case dresses and Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits. Additionally, we conducted teacher training workshops for local teachers as well as the teachers at the Ray of Hope school.

Who were the people that you met? We met the residents and staff at Ray of Hope, their teachers in the school. Local pastors and pastors wives. We worked closely with Michael and Ceci Tesh as well as John and Habona Kisamwa. These will be ongoing connections for future ministry teams.

 

How did your mission experience impact your life and faith? For me personally, knowing the children and staff at ROH and being a small part of that ministry has allowed me to process my grief over the death of my husband. Before his death he had heard Michael and Ceci Tesh speak at Kernersville Moravian Church in Kernersville, NC and was so impressed with their ministry that he left money to be used for the ministry of Ray of Hope. I promised him that I would see to it that it was spent to expand that ministry. I have been able to act on a call to missions that I experienced years ago as a teenager, but that lay dormant for decades as I busied myself with the tasks of being a wife, mother, and pastor. The whole experience has deepened my faith, broadened my world view, and enabled me to experience the love of God and community with a group of believing children in a remote part of our planet. I am astounded that God has been preparing me all through my life for this ministry! From growing up on a small farm in Eastern NC, going off to college, meeting the love of my life, graduating from seminary, and spending 35 years as a clergy couple, retiring from ministry, moving our membership to a Moravian congregation; to finding myself a widow, in my 60’s traveling to a distance land and rediscovering that I still have skills and a ministry to offer.

What were the challenges and rewards of your experience? A trip to Kenya is in and of itself very strenuous. It takes two full days of travel just to get there. Once there it’s physically challenging without all the conveniences of our modern world, like running water, hot water for showers and washing, dietary challenges, heat, bugs,etc. But it’s worth it in the long run because of the connections I have formed with some dear, dear people.

What does your experience mean to you going into the future? As long as I am physically able, I want to return on future mission trips to Ray of Hope. I am currently serving as a member of the Ray of Hope Committee that meets regularly in Winston-Salem, NC to plan out fund raising for the operating costs of this ministry. We are also involved in speaking at various Moravian churches in our area to raise awareness on the part of local missions committees of the ministry taking place in Kenya. We have tentatively planned a trip for the summer of 2018, and will begin talking about what team members, skills, etc. will be needed for the next mission.

 

Click here for more photos from Rev. Williams’ experience in mission engagement:

http://play.smilebox.com/SpreadMoreHappy/4e44517a4e6a67334f54513d0d0a

 

Thank you so much, Cynthia!  

 

Share our Story: Experiences with Ray of Hope in Kenya

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