Jean McAllister first experienced God’s call to be a missionary while she was on an Impact Team Mission Trip in Rwanda in 2004. She heard God say to her, “You could live here.”
After returning to the U.S., Jean prayed a lot, read Scripture and consulted with friends, family, and pastors here at BelPres. Through this process, Jean felt strong confirmation that God was inviting her to move to Rwanda. Jean remembers the chorus from one song being particularly meaningful; “Here I am Lord; is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord; if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” This is what Jean has done since she moved to Rwanda in 2005.
Initially, Jean went to work with Naomi Club (a ministry to help Prostitutes start a new life and get off the streets) and AEE. Jean hired a language tutor and at the bright, young age of 70, Jean began learning a brand new language called Kinyarwanda.
Jean soon became an advocate for kids living on the street, ages 8-18 years old, who were going to schools called “Catch Up” schools. The purpose of these schools was to catch kids living with homelessness up on all the education they missed and prepare then for secondary school. Jean also began personally sponsoring some older students so they could go to college and she helped other young people find sponsors here in the U.S. As Jean’s mastery of the language increased, she began accepting invitations to teach and to preach in local churches.
One of Jean’s great accomplishments was to develop a network of small local Rwandan ministries with a primary focus on children living on the street, prostitutes and poverty. Through constant encouragement, casting vision around the benefits of working together rather than separately, faithful perseverance and provision of resources, Jean sustained and matured the network until she was able to hand her leadership over to Rwandan believers.
Jesus has used Jean to change many lives both in Rwanda and here in the U.S.. Catch Up Schools has been able to purchase land and provide teacher salaries; young adults have graduated from college; many Rwandans have been mentored and their needs cared for; individuals and teams from the U.S. have been graciously hosted; a network of ministries to the most poor and vulnerable has been sustained and new initiatives developed; a water project was completed and dedicated in the name of someone from Belpres; and the list goes on and on and on.
Jean’s life is a testimony to the amazing ways Jesus works when we say, “Yes!” to His calling.
Jean’s ministry in Rwanda has come to a close and Jean moved back here to the U.S. earlier this week. We are so thankful for Jean, for the fruit of her ministry in Rwanda, and for the ways she has partnered with Jesus in bringing His Kingdom to earth. Well done, good and faithful servant! Let’s welcome Jean back to Bellevue. Greet her when you see her, but more than that, be ready to abide with her as she grieves her life in Rwanda, and as she finds her way among us now. The transition from mission life to country-of-origin life is a challenging one, and Jean will need our congregation to love, to listen, and just to walk with her through it.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.”