These thoughts raced through my mind with each passing day, just two months after moving to the United States. I was ready to board the next available flight back home, but neither my daughter nor I could afford an air ticket. The cold biting winter in the state of Oregon made reality worse. I was done with the United States, and my hopes and dreams were crushed.
I had been so excited to come to the USA, and had envisioned serving God as a literature evangelist (LE), sharing the word of hope with His people. To my disappointment and after inquiring from three churches, however, I was told that a Publishing department and LEs didn’t exist. It was difficult for me to understand since these were large churches. My enthusiasm started to diminish as I contrasted the two countries.
Finding a job as an immigrant wasn’t easy, and that didn’t make things any easier. How could I do anything else when I had spent the past 22 years serving as a successful LE? I cried as I reflected on my former years. I wondered if all my years of service as a credentialed LE had been wasted. Had I traded my fruitful and flourishing ministry for cleaning homes and working with the mentally and physically challenged? These depressing thoughts weighed on me, yet my desire to be close to my daughter was strong and kept me going. I prayed and asked God for an understanding beyond my feelings of depression and despondency.
I had started as a hairdresser in Nyeri, Kenya. God called me to serve as an LE in February 1994. My first client was an Indian man who owned a retail store. Within nine months I was leading in sales, and attained my credentials that same year. While in Nyeri I focused on canvassing to schools, ministries, banks, and government offices. My focus changed during one of my visits to the office of the local Criminal Investigation Department (CID), where I came across pictures of a woman who had killed her three children and hanged herself. That experience drove me to canvass with family and spiritual books to better help those in need.
A year later I answered a call to serve in the capital city of Nairobi. God opened many doors. It was there that I met a non practicing Adventist who served as an assistant high commissioner. His mother-in-law was sick with arthritis and diabetes. I sold him health books and taught him to apply simple home remedies that would help her. He invited me into his home, and for two months I ministered to her until she got well. After teaching her to use the eight simple remedies, she was healed of her arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Her personal doctor met me and decided to change her diet. Inspired by my success, her doctor also purchased books from me. That same year the family paid for my two-week vacation in their home country of Zambia, where I ministered to many people about the love of Jesus. My joy was made complete when the assistant high commissioner rejoined the Adventist Church and donated a vehicle to the church as gratitude for helping his family.
How could I trade all these wonderful experiences for what I had found in the United States? It broke my heart to meet people whose lives are in desperate need of Jesus. Tears filled my eyes as I cleaned one home that was dirty and cluttered. I whispered a prayer: “Jesus, come into this home and save this family!” I thought to myself, If only I had the book Steps to Christ. What a difference it would make!
Another time I met a mother who cared for her two autistic young adults, and was touched by her need for encouragement. She had previously been a Christian, had just been left by her husband for another woman, and had since given up on God. I saw her need and desire for a true friend who would never forsake her. I was happy to be her friend and a shoulder to cry on.
These and other experiences impacted my faith and knowledge of Christ. On January 20, 2016, I wrote a prayer in my journal that started a revolution in my outlook of life and ministry: “Dear Lord, I come before You this morning with a lot of humility. Have mercy on me and my children. Protect us from dangers and give us peace. I praise You for the strength to do the work I did today, even though it’s not what I want to grow old doing. I have toiled for so long, dear Lord. Please spare me this time, but if this is my way to success, then grant me the strength and grace to go through it. Be with us today. Amen.”
From then on, my perspective changed. Wherever I’d go, rather than focusing on my own needs, I’d see people who hunger for truth; people who need meaning in life besides sports and entertainment. I’d see people who need to know there is more to life, something sweeter and better.
It wasn’t until after I had worked with the needy that I understood the true meaning of “service.” Only then did my attitude and expectations change forever.
I am determined to continue doing my best to uplift the lives that God has placed in my path as I prepare to serve in the Publishing Ministry once more. I love this work and wholeheartedly believe God brought me to this great nation to fulfill a mission.
Rosemary Wanjiku is a full-time literature evangelist in Oregon, United States.