“It took me 67 years to get here,” said Jane (USA). “But it was God’s plan for me to be here now.”
Jane — or ‘Grandma Jane’ as she is known to many — works in the office at The Link in South Africa. The office serves as an administration hub for much of the work God is doing through OM in southern Africa and is always in need of skilled people.
Joining the finance department, Jane brought 45 years of accounting experience with her. “I love it,” she said about her role. “I love my team; I love my work; I’m very happy.”
In addition to sorting emails, doling out petty cash, printing bills and organising payments, Jane prioritises relationships. Twice a day she makes coffee and tea for her team, having long since memorised each of their orders and mug preferences. Whenever a baby visits, Jane is first in line to hold them, and, if there is a child around, Jane always engages them in conversation. “I’ve always been the mothering type,” she admitted. “I took care of everybody’s kids, even at the age of five.”
Not yet…not yet…now
Jane grew up in a Christian home and right from the beginning “knew that I was going to do something for Him,” she said. Specifically, she knew that she wanted to be a missionary somewhere in Africa.
But it didn’t happen as soon as she thought it would. Various times over the years, Jane was ready to sell everything and move across the ocean; but each time God pulled her back, saying, “not yet.” Throughout the highs and lows of life, Jane held onto the belief that someday she would make it to the continent that had long been on her heart.
At 63, Jane and her husband went on a short-term outreach to an orphanage in Egypt. She struggled to learn the language, remembering, “I could hardly say ‘welcome’. I just could not get my tongue to do it at that age.”
Despite the challenges, Jane loved her time in Egypt, and, upon returning to the USA, the couple decided to work two more years and then retire and join missions full time. But soon after, Jane’s husband was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away. “When he was dying, he kept saying: ‘Go and do your dream,’ but I said: ‘No, I don’t want to do it without you,’” remembered Jane.
Eight months later, Jane was sitting in church when she heard a voice say: “It’s time. It’s your season. I’m sending you.”
She travelled to Zambia and South Africa on a vision trip and fell in love with the people she met. After her first tour of the OM office, Jane left feeling like she “wasn’t even touching the ground. I knew this is where God wanted me to be.”
The responses from friends and family were mixed when Jane announced that she was moving to South Africa. Some people were excited for her, while others worried. Would she be safe? What would she eat? Where would she live? Who would look after her if something happened? Was healthcare adequate? Jane wasn’t worried though. “Every day, give it all to Him and He will take care of you. He will protect you. He will guide you,” she said. “That’s always been my belief.”
‘I’m a Jesus follower’
One of the biggest lessons that Jane learnt through joining missions was that she already was a missionary. “As soon as you become a Jesus follower, you are a missionary because that’s what a Jesus follower does — they tell others about Jesus. Plain and simple,” she explained. “I don’t have to have that title of ‘missionary’ — I’m a Jesus follower.”
From her neighbours to the clerk at the grocery store, parking attendants to those who are homeless, Jane strives to show Christ’s love wherever she goes. “It’s maybe not what I say but the love that I have through Jesus,” she said.
“I think that’s been part of God’s training through the years: to have compassion, love, gentleness and so on. I think God has given me a lot of that,” reflected Jane. “I’m still working on patience, though.”