Despite difficult personal circumstances, Sam and Abby feel a great sense of calling to be in Chad and can testify of God’s presence in all their circumstances. They see great opportunities to support those at the forefront of mission in remote and hard to reach communities.
A step of faith
Chad is the 3rd poorest country in the world. The capital N’Djamena where they live is the 3rd most expensive city to live in in Africa. Refugee camps in the area around Lake Chad are home to more than 100,000 - a number that is swelling as more people cross the borders from neighbouring Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger in search of safety and shelter. The security situation in the region is quite unstable, as recent headlines show.
From the physical landscape to the weather and culture, Chad is nothing like Uganda, where Sam grew up and, together with Abby, spent the first seven years of married life. When they were asked to go to Chad, they had to research the country, and begin asking questions of people who had lived there.
'Every single person we talked to would tell us how difficult it was - that it wasn’t going to be an easy transition,' Sam remembers. 'But if everybody said "don’t go", then who would ever go?' he questions.
Sam committed his life to Christ at the age of ten. As an adult, he qualified in business management at university in Uganda, and later chartered accountancy in Kenya and the UK. He met Abby, from Tunbridge Wells, through mutual friends in Uganda and the UK. Abby studied International Development at university and had already embarked on pursuing a career in international development by then.
"You don’t have to be a pilot to work with MAF. I personally don’t have an aviation background. I’m an accountant by training."
Both had a heart for missions but developed their skills in the NGO and commercial sectors first, waiting for the time when God would open the door to mission.
Sam flew with MAF often when he worked for CURE International. Then in July 2012 he accepted a job offer from MAF for a short assignment as Finance Manager. 'You don’t have to be a pilot to work with MAF. I personally don’t have an aviation background. I’m an accountant by training,;' he explains.
'Within the first few months I could clearly tell this was a place that we both wanted to work. So when we were asked to take up a full-time position we were very excited. We were at that stage where the children were still very young and we could be adventurous enough to go wherever MAF needed us to go.'
Although Sam felt very prepared for his new role it was still an adjustment. Living in five different temporary homes in twelve months has been unsettling for the family, especially the children, Rachel (three) and Rebecca (one).
The impact of this hit home as the family prepared to move from the first house to the second temporary house. Little Rachel sat on the front steps, looked up at Abby and asked, 'But mummy, where is home?'
Despite the challenges, both Sam and Abby have dreams for the future of MAF in Chad. When the children are fully settled, Abby hopes to get more involved in the work of the programme. Sam’s vision is to increase the visibility of MAF and see an effective and efficient team of national and international staff work together.
'The first few months were …tricky… in different ways,' Abby admits. 'But, through it all we have really felt that God is with us.'
'We are very excited to work here with MAF and the opportunities this gives us to witness and use the gifts that God has given us,' Sam and Abby agree.