African American Missionaries MAKING History – Lloyd and Jan Chinn

IMG_0035Thank you for reading my blog during African American History Month as I highlighted some of my heroes. Tomorrow I will return to reflections from God’s Word. I hope that you have learned a lot and that the stories have been a blessing.

I know these people best – so I saved their story for the last day …

Lloyd and Jan Chinn are native to Texas. Lloyd from Edna, TX and Jan from Houston, TX. The Chinns met, married and their careers were rising when Lloyd sensed the Lord’s leading into ministry. Jan was working for Ernst & Young LLP in Private Client Services; Lloyd was working as a very successful political strategist in Houston, TX. In 1998, when Lloyd acknowledged his call to ministry the Lord spoke to the Chinn’s that May 15th would be Lloyd’s last day of secular work. The Chinn’s moved to Dallas that June where Lloyd attended Dallas Theological Seminary with a plan to return to their home church in Houston to engage in faith based community economic development. By now, Lloyd was in seminary full time and working for a local non-profit as an urban planner and Jan was working as Corporate Human Resources Manager for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.

In 1999, Lloyd was invited to Ghana, West Africa on a short term mission. Lloyd and Jan had never even met a missionary and had no desire to enter into missionary service; they scarcely knew where Africa was – and had never heard of Ghana. Jan was resistant to Lloyd’s going; but God provided the funds for the journey and they took that as confirmation that Lloyd was to go. 5 days into Lloyd’s trip, he was asked to preach in the village of Pusupu – he had only preached twice before that and was nervous, but he preached from Ephesians 2 and about 10 people prayed to receive Christ! Lloyd was blown away. He returned to his room and while journaling about the day, God spoke to him clearly that Africa would be his context of ministry – it was May 15th – one year exactly from the day Lloyd left the secular work world. Lloyd returned to the USA and did not tell his wife about the call to Africa – but before the year’s end, Jan wanted to go and see Ghana. In 2000 they took all of their children and 22 other people to the same little town in Ghana – and on that trip, Jan’s experience opened her eyes to the need for discipleship in Ghana. Lloyd’s firm message to the African American church became: “Pray! Pay! or Pack!”

In 2002, Lloyd and Jan were appointed as long term missionaries with CBInternational (which is now WorldVenture) and were approved to open a new field of ministry in Ghana. Their mission agency was concerned that as African Americans, they wouldn’t be able to raise the financial support – but God had another plan! The Chinn’s had unprecedented support from the African American church in Texas. In 2004, the Chinns sold everything they owned and boarded a plane with their sons and one way tickets to Ghana, West Africa. It wasn’t easy – they did not have a team; they did not know the language or culture; they had to send their sons to boarding school in Senegal; they endured loneliness; the pain of being misunderstood; the hurt of being taken advantage of; a complete change of systems and culture and yet – they persevered. The Chinn’s call their ability to move to Ghana as a family and have effective ministry God’s anointing. They say He called them to it and He equipped them for it. Lloyd and Jan as well as their sons learned the Asante Twi language and developed friendships in both national and local government and across denominations in Ghana and learned to submit to the leaders in the church and in the community which gained them respect and love in the country. The Chinns served in Ghana for 10 years mainly in pastoral leadership development. The needs of the community in Nkwanta led them to also engage in orphan care, educational development and community economic development.

In 2013, they returned to the USA on a home assignment which was supposed to last 10 months. During their first few months in the US, the leadership of WorldVenture called and asked them to take on the role of International Ministries Director for Africa. In March 2014, they stepped in to this new role where they are now missionaries to the missionary; providing pastoral care, leadership development and strategic planning assistance for 108 missionary units (some families; some singles) in 12 countries across Africa. They are the first African Americans to serve in this capacity with their mission.

African American Missionaries MAKING History – Grover and Sharon Cooper

28526_1388581109311_6092459_nGrover and Sharon Cooper have been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ since 1983 and 1978, respectively. They moved to Dallas, TX in August 1991 where Grover attended Dallas Theological Seminary and earned his Th.M. in New Testament Studies in 1995. They moved to Houston to raise support after his graduation for what was supposed to be one year; however their plans were changed. Their youngest child was born on March 16, 1996 and ten days later, Sharon suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. She had emergency neurosurgery and was hospitalized for 43 days in 3 different hospitals. After her release, she finished the prescribed 6 months of outpatient rehabilitation in three months, graduating as the TIRR Challenge Program Client of The Year.

In 2000 they finally moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where Grover served as Campus Director at The University of Witwatersrand until May 1, 2006. During the 2006-2007 year of transition back to the US, the family served on the Campus Crusade for Christ Lake Hart Stint, a one year development program; they also worked with The Impact Movement. After completing their time on the CCC Lake Hart Stint they continued their service with the The Impact Movement; serving with Staff Development and Staff Care. Currently, Grover serves as Director of Fund Development for The Impact Movement and oversees Impact Campus Chapters in the South and Southeast US.

Lloyd and I had the great opportunity to meet the Coopers in 2006 before they left South Africa. We are honored to call them co-laborers and friends!

African American MISSIONARY History – Eliza Davis George

Eliza GeorgeEliza Davis George was born in 1879.  In December 1913 she left Texas for New York; and on December 12, 1913, she sailed from New York to Liberiaas a National Baptist missionary.

Eliza and another missionary opened a school for children in the interior of Liberia, where there were few missionaries or churches. They called the school Bible Industrial Academy, and their aim was to teach children to read the Bible and show them helpful life skills. Within the first two years they had fifty children attending the academy and saw more than 1,000 people accept the Lord in the nearby villages.

Eliza served as an evangelist, teacher, and church planter throughout Sinoe County, Liberia. Wherever she established ministries, she trained Liberian young people and sent them as missionaries to take the Word of God to their own people and to provide education for their children.

Five years after arriving in Liberia, Eliza’s mission board disbanded. Lacking financial support, she was approached by a British missionary doctor who urged her to marry him so that she would be able to remain in Africa. After much prayer, she concluded that God was permitting her to marry, and in 1919, Eliza became the wife of Dr. Charles George. Together they adopted three children: Maude, Cecelia, and Cerella.

Even when married, Eliza continued to live meagerly, trusting in the Lord’s provision and going to extraordinary lengths to secure support for the ministry Jesus had called her to. Her prayer life reflected her dependence on God:

“O heavenly Father, thou hast taught us to pray for our daily bread. Lord, thou dost know that I do not have one penny to buy food and pay the workers here at the mission. Father, send us something to meet our needs as thou hast promised. Help me to keep trusting Thee so that the children will know Thou art caring for them.”

In 1939, her husband passed away – yet she continued in the work for 33 more years.  By the 1960s The Eliza Davis George Baptist Association had twenty-seven churches in Liberia.

Eliza returned to the USA in 1972 at the age of 93 due to fragile health.  She passed away in Tyler, TX in March 1980.

My Broken Heart — And the Hope that I hold on to in Christ

Thinking of the countless Wednesday nights that I sat in a Bible Study in a school, in a classroom, in a church sanctuary. Thinking of my many pastor friends all over this nation that gather with their congregants to study God’s word in sanctuaries, classrooms, basements, etc. I keep wondering if one of them might be next. I keep thinking might we be next? I went to my office yesterday and sat in meetings all day – important meetings, kingdom meetings with people who I know care for me – but only one person in that office asked how my heart was as relates to what happened in South Carolina. Sadly, I was not surprised. Not an indictment on my colleagues, but an indicator of a bigger problem that is affecting this nation, especially the Body of Christ. We don’t see one another. We don’t love one another. We just live among one another, existing and tightly controlling when and how our paths might cross outside of the office or outside of the local church body. When will we have the courage to admit that we hate? When will we have the courage to admit that we overlook injustice because it is easier than facing it? When will we have the courage to admit that we don’t love equally across ethnic lines? We Have A Problem and if we’re not careful, it will carry us away – down a river of death, pain, and ultimately separation from the will of the God we say that we love! Yes – I am affected by the tragedy! I am affected because we try to make these images trite, common – we act like its just another tragedy. What’s the difference to us whether it is a boy with a hoodie; a man stealing cigarettes; a man who just robbed a store; or, a group of people studying the Word of God! This thing is escalating! This tragedy – this act of our enemy Satan – has rocked me to my core! Not just a racial attack – but an affront to the Christian faith as well. There is no alleged shooter here — there are no alleged victims; it is all crystal clear! This guy intended to do evil and he did just that. Call it mental illness; call it hate; call it demonic activity — SEMANTICS! It is evil. It is demonic. It is sin. I am not praying for reconciliation or peace – I am praying for truth! I am praying that we will open our eyes and put feet to our faith. I am praying that the Body of Christ will ensure that our behavior will match what we say we believe so that we can be change agents in this world. We need to admit, as a nation, that there is a problem because only then will we have any chance at peace. Yes, my heart breaks that they were murdered — but not just because they were black and murdered — because they were murdered at all!

Can You Handle The TRUTH?!

truthAs Lloyd and I watched Selma last week and reflected on the many injustices that people of all backgrounds have had to endure in America based upon a person’s/group’s belief that they were somehow superior — it prompted me to think about the fact that we often form our own truths. We take our opinions and our personal views of right and wrong and hold to them as truth. It can be something as trivial as a person who believes that you should never wear white after labor day; or something as serious as America does not need/want a woman or minority as their president. It can be as silly as you have to have turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving; or as critical as not wanting to host your colleagues of different ethnicities in your home. It can be as ridiculous as whether the television should be mounted over the fireplace; or as severe as not wanting your children to date a person of another ethnicity. We – all of us — take our own opinions and hold them out to be truth.

I’ve heard it said that truth is a matter of perspective. I’ve heard it said that truth is a matter of experience. I’ve heard people say that they walk in ‘their own truth’. What defines truth is morphing into something unrecognizable. Truth becomes truth based upon what notable person said it; which political party said it; which news outlet reports it; which group of friends holds it to be true. The fact is — there is but one truth; The Truth — the Almighty, True and Living God.There is no shadow in Him — no deceit – no hidden agenda – no preference for one group over another – no ulterior motives. When you want to know what the truth is — Just Ask God. Listen to Him through prayer; worship music; scripture on tape; bible reading; etc. As you lean into Him – you lean in to Truth. Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified in Truth. Jesus declares that He is the way, the Truth, and the life. The truth is not merely what is said — it is a force – The Force by which we must live our lives.

Don’t you want to live free from the strongholds and encumbrances of this present age?? Lies are the stronghold of our enemy, Satan. Lies are what are dividing us and causing us to think more of ourselves that we ought. We are mere clay – we are vessels to be used by our King — we are servants of the Most High God. We are not autonomous entities who operate in our own strength and power and we Do Not have the wisdom necessary to form our own truth!

When we hold fast to the Word of God; making it the guide and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and to teach us, then (and only then) we will know Truth. Knowing the Truth about who He is and about who you are in Him – You Will Live Free. You will not hold to irrational thoughts as truth; you will not even hold to your own personal feelings as truth — you will be able to stand in the Truth.

I want to learn to stand on His truth in all that I think, say and do! I want to reflect His glorious majesty on this earth and not my own lackluster shine. May He make my heart to live His way; love His way; believe His way. Help me Father to walk in Truth! Help me to walk Free!

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (‭John‬ ‭8‬:‭32‬ NASB)