By Heidi Thulin, Photography by Sean White
On Field Media
When Pauline first met her husband, Alan, they knew they’d one day be called to the mission field. Little did they know, however, that their call to ministry in Africa would not be fulfilled until their retirement years. Back in 1994, they tested the waters serving with AIM AIR in Kenya, but soon realized they needed to return to the UK for their three daughters’ schooling requirements. Twenty years later, after their last daughter walked down the aisle, they received an email from Africa Inland Mission’s UK Mobilizer, saying, “Where are the Jordans?” And they enthusiastically replied, “We are ready!’”
“We sold our house of twenty-two years,” Pauline remembers. “That was sad, moving out of the house. We lived with my mum for three and a half years. Both of us still working full-time, raising support. I moved back into my old bedroom! We spent most of our evenings sitting in that small room, huddled around a small desk. God was teaching us lots of things – how to work together and how to reduce our belongings.”
During that time, they traveled to northern Kenya, to a town called Marsabit, where AIM dreamed of launching a Bible training center. Their trip did not go well. The truck broke down multiple times, in the middle of nowhere, in the stifling heat. The home they visited (that would someday be theirs) was in complete disarray. And to top it all off, they nearly missed their bush flight out of town. “As far as I was concerned,” Pauline says, “that option [was out], because it wasn’t what I wanted to do… Alan, though, he was very patient. He thought that it was the right place. He’d be doing what he’s always wanted to do: using his theology degree and teaching it. But he wouldn’t push me into anything. He just waited on God to work on my mind and show me that I was being a Jonah. I was running away from what God wanted.”
Alan and Pauline finally arrived in Kenya in December 2018, one month before the Northern Bible Training Centre officially opened, and in early April, they settled into their newly-spruced-up Marsabit home. The small town is a bustling trade center, the last settlement before the desert really begins. Because of its ideal location, rent in Marsabit is continually increasing. As a result, Pauline and Alan feel blessed to have such a large house with extra bedrooms to offer to short-term missionaries. They also have the unique privilege of meeting dozens of missionaries who are passing through town and stocking up on supplies. The travelers come to their house for a warm, home-cooked meal and some good sleep before continuing their journey along the rugged desert road.
“Now that we’re actually here, I absolutely love it!” Pauline smiles. “It’s a simple way of life compared to Nairobi…I don’t have any doubts about where God has called me. This is the right place. And I also get the chance to teach English to the Bible students who need extra language support.”
Since their arrival, the fledgling training center has grown from three students to fifteen, with the future pastors representing four of the neighboring unreached people groups. It’s an exciting time to be doing this kind of ministry. “We plan to stay here about four or five years,” Pauline explains, “until we work ourselves out of a job! That’s a whole other point of being a missionary. You set something up and work alongside the Kenyans who themselves want to take it on.”