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 – Sherry Thomas

12642447_10208363056261302_384671495906583986_nMinister Sherry Thomas has been a full time missionary to West Africa for about 16 yrs. She has lived and served over 4 yrs. in Liberia, West Africa and 4yrs. in Ghana, West Africa and she is currently working in Mali, West Africa since early 2010 serving in discipleship training and church planting efforts of oral, unreached peoples there.

She received her call to foreign missions in Nov. 1998 – the Spirit of the Lord told her to go to West Africa and teach the Bible to the Arab Muslims in their language. While serving in Liberia, she taught Biology and Chemistry to 9-12 grades at the Carver Mission Academy; facilitated the Disciplinary Committee at the Carver Mission Academy; was involved with the Women’s Bible Study at the King Gray village; and was involved with the a Minister’s in Training Program at the First United Christ Temple Church at the King Gray village. In 2003 she was evacuated out of Liberia because of war and went to Ghana. While serving in Ghana, she taught Preventative and Emergency Medicine and provided contextualized discipleship materials.

In May 2005, Sherry was diagnosed with Breast cancer in the 3rd stage and was told her chances of survival were slim — after returning to the US for medical treatments and experiencing God’s healing upon her life — Sherry was cleared for duty once again and returned to Ghana. In 2008 she was invited to Mali and God burdened her once again to reach the unreached – Sherry moved to France for 13 months to study French and in 2010 returned to Mali, where she currently serves through SIM.

“When “life happens” – and it did and will continue to happen, you must hold on to what God has said over your life. No matter what happens, God will see you through until what He has ordained comes to pass.” Sherry Thomas

Lloyd and I are honored and privileged to call Sherry and co-laborer and friend.  We always love our visits with Sherry in Mali – so much encouragement, love and laughter.