I’ve been living in North Africa and serving as CBF field personnel for just over two years. After my commissioning in 2018, I moved abroad to start the work ahead of me—serving as a pastor with the national Protestant church in ministry to sub-Saharan migrants and refugees.
My new context is complex—as the only authorized Protestant church in this country, we host members from around the world. Most of our church members are international students from other countries in Africa. We all come from a dizzying assortment of countries, theologies, perspectives, preferences, languages, and backgrounds, but as the only Protestant church in the country, every day we find creative ways to embrace our diversity while celebrating our unity.
My church is a poor church. Mostly international students on scholarship, even the faithful contributions of our flock is not enough to cover our operating expenses, much less our outreach relief programs, and we’re legally restrained from generating our own income. Our humble finances require into the happy work of partnering with the Global Church—a monumental communications challenge.
My church is an active church. Because most of our members are far away from their countries of origin, the church community truly does become family for each other. We celebrate birthdays together, we grieve losses together. We’ve had to find new expressions of community during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m proud to belong to such a living example of the family of Christ.
To prepare for the complexities of my new ministry, I’ve devoted the past two years to building a solid foundation for this long-term commitment.
After spending the past two years in language school (French and Arabic), in countless hours of committee meetings, hosting international donors and partner churches, learning how to go grocery shopping and fix water heater leaks, finding new doctors in a foreign language, accompanying church members to embassies and police stations—I am now ready to begin the task of full-time pastoral ministry. And while the past two years were reserved for building a solid foundation, I know that the real work of listening and learning is just beginning.
Thank you, CBF, for allowing me to invest my life in this ministry and commit to being the long-term presence of Christ through my new ministry home. I’m so grateful for your support.
Karen is a CBF field personnel serving in Northern Africa. Learn more about and support her ministry at www.cbf.net/karen-nafrica.