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Graeme and Jenny Riddell

Watching and Learning…

‘So what will you be doing?’ Ask anyone who has worked in the Great Lakes Region of Africa in the past few years and you will find out that this is a difficult question to answer. Politics change, needs emerge, partnerships evolve and dissolve, revivals break out and subside, churches grow and split with alarming regularity and as such roles change and develop. So what will we be doing when we first arrive in Uganda? Watching, learning and seeking to find out how God can best use us strategically for his purposes as we learn to be flexible, adaptable and foster an antipathy to the concept of time.

The question therefore is not so much what will we be doing but what are we doing. To which we hope the answer is seeking to do what God wants us to do and to go where God wants us to go - and that’s not always easy for anyone to work out.

Jenny and Graeme Riddell

For a number of years Jenny and I have felt the desire in our hearts to serve God in a long term cross cultural context. At first I was suspicious that this was simply a yearning to return to my childhood roots in Tanzania. But several short term mission trips to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship and the wise advice from mature Christian friends led me to believe that God was saying ‘you don’t need to just do this in your summer holidays. You could do this longer term!’ The key issue was always where and when.

Jenny had her own experiences too. A gap year in India with a secular organisation brought her into contact with a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) team who planted a seed about future long term mission service. Further short term experiences in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania followed. And then God brought us together. Two people with the same desires and the same questions. Where Lord and when?

Having spent the last year praying, seeking advice and talking with different mission agencies we felt that God was calling us to the Great Lakes region of Africa where we have some understanding of the cultural background and where we felt we could use our linguistic skills of Swahili and French (so why are we ending up going to Uganda, an English speaking country where Swahili is people’s third language at best?!? We trust that God has a plan to allow us to use our linguistic skills in the legal and justice work we will be doing to communicate with the many migrants including refugees who move from country to country across the Great Lakes Region).

And what of the role? A teacher could easily be used but a lawyer? Well it’s interesting to note in the history of missiology how the same question was being directed at doctors some 70 years ago when they first started to head to the mission field. Can we really support these people as missionaries? Thankfully in today’s world we have taken some of the mysticism out of the term missionary and realise that we are all called to share the gospel in whatever context we live and work whether at home or cross culturally. Today Christian lawyers are being sent by mission agencies to open up the gospel in different contexts in an attempt to allow the most marginalised and abused to gain access to the justice they are so often denied.

This led us to the doors of BMS World Mission (formerly the Baptist Missionary Society). For the past five years they have been working alongside the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF) developing prison ministries, providing legal education for those who don’t know their rights and legal aid for those who cannot afford to access justice in court. This is all done within the framework of sharing Christ’s good news of salvation for all people.

As preparation for our departure to Uganda we will be going to BMS’s International Mission training Centre (IMC) in Birmingham from September 2007. We have a lot to do before then which we would value prayer for. A house to sell, jobs at work to hand over, a lot of packing to do. Whilst at IMC we will do some basic theology, missiology and cross cultural training which will involve a five week placement in Uganda. We will then hopefully move to Uganda in August 2008. Where exactly we will be living in Uganda or what exactly our job description will be on a daily basis with the UCLF and the Ugandan Baptist Union will no doubt unfold as our time for departure approaches and God opens up new opportunities to us. For now we are content simply to watch, learn and grow.

We would value you prayer support and would love you to share in our news as we prepare for and start to work in Uganda. If you would like to receive our prayer letters we will let you know details of how this can be done nearer the time of our departure.

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