Ordinary People...

by Jason Bollinger on May 28th, 2013

Some of the greatest things of partnering with so many people from so many places are stories that you hear and the people you get to know.  I was so humbled by meeting so many ordinary people doing absolutely extra-ordinary things for God.  Holly Vanstone is someone I met in Uganda.  Holly was a teacher in London who found herself 8 years on the mission field.  It's not what she planned, but it is definitely what God planned.  I asked her to share how she was moved from what she had always known into the great unknown.  I hope you're encouraged by her story...

As a child, I saw pictures of the tragic famine in Biafra. I was impacted by this and it gave me a compassionate and passionate heart for Africa which stayed with me as I grew up.

I became a teacher, Deputy Head and finally Head Teacher in primary schools. In my final post as head, I became ill due to political pressures and stress. This caused me to re-evaluate what I was doing and I looked to God to direct my path ahead.

On January 1st 2005, I set myself some goals for that year. This included pushing open some possible doors into Africa. Very soon I was in touch with Norman Barnes, who connected me with Mike and Beryl Godward from Wellspring, Uganda. Following two interviews with them, I left England and re-located to Wellspring for two years, to be their Primary School head teacher.

Nearly eight years later, I returned, at the beginning of this year.

I believe God knows every detail of our lives, how we think and how we feel. He takes all our life experiences and creates something new from past disappointments and failures. This is Kingdom restoration and it is always a glorious grace filled blessing to experience or observe in others.

During all the years I worked in England, I had a huge passion about Africa, that God birthed into me. I had not married and had a family, so my career was a big commitment and outlet for my skills and time. Becoming unwell brought this lifestyle to a full stop!

I was now free to pursue what I believe I was born to do- my true destiny in God. This didn't eliminate or diminish my years of hard work, as they were all part of the development to bring my dream to destiny.

From the moment I arrived at Wellspring, I fit in. No longer a square peg in a round hole, trying to fulfill Government and Governor directives. I was living in the rule and reign of God's Kingdom. This however can be more demanding in the area of relationships, when you live, work, worship and socialise with just one group of Christians together.

I took leadership of the school in my stride, and soon our numbers were increasing, the teachers began to work as a team and standards were being raised to provide excellence in education.

God favoured and blessed the work of my hands and my heart. I became Ugandan, not just a 'mzungu' in Uganda.  I laughed, lived and wept alongside the community as we shared our lives together. I went to Uganda aged 53. Many career people at this stage are sitting out their final years, building up the best pension and looking forward to an easier life to come.

God had given me a dream though and I was prepeared to follow it where it led me.Never give up on your dream-God never does! He took mine and fulfilled them for his purposes and plans and I found huge fulfillment in this co-partnership.

So now I am based back in my home in England but ready to travel to wherever I can be useful. I believe God has called me not just to Uganda, but to the 'nations'. This month I am returning to Malawi with a Links team, where I will be training teachers. Following that, I am flying on to Kenya to do a week's training there too. Working and living at Wellspring was a huge privilge for me and I experienced first hand the joy, laughter and love of the African Christian family. It is unique in its style and culture.

My Ugandan friends are always in my heart and I will return there when I can to give away what God has given me. As a young person, God spoke to me as he did to Abraham. 'I have blessed you to be a blessing. That's what I have done and will continue to do.

Thank you, Holly, for sharing your story with us.  What has God placed on your heart to accomplish?  Where is he calling you? Maybe Links can connect you as well. 

Posted in Missionaries, Uganda    Tagged with Missions, Links International, Uganda, London, Missionary, Ordinary People


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