Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Dave and Sophia, 1993 Source of Nile River, Jinja, Uganda

When my daughter Sophia was a toddler she would stand on our front porch and cry as I left for work, “Don’t leave me daddy.”     In my first time parent feebleness I vacillated between reason with a toddler and discipline.   Eventually, I just closed my heart and drove away.     Yet, a few times later God’s Spirit whispered, “Make her laugh.”

Sophia was crying on the porch, “Don’t leave me daddy.”

I picked her up and said, “I won’t.   You’re the one who is going to leave me.”

She had a puzzled look.   

I said, “Someday you’ll marry a boy you love.    You’ll leave me.”

Her puzzled look turned to a dream.   I hugged and kissed her.   I put her feet back on the porch.   She giggled.   I left and came home a few hours later.

The “Don’t leave me” routine became our missionary family rhythm.   We laughed at transitions.

Over a furlough in 2010 Sophia was a junior in high school.   We looked at different universities as possibilities.    We traveled to Wheaton College.   It was the only university where I noticed young men who I would not mind asking my daughter out on a date.    They even called me, “Sir.”    
Dave, Jana, and Sophia at her Harambee in Rwanda

I begged God for Sophia to be accepted at Wheaton College.   When she was accepted I was elated.    We were short cash to pay the first semester’s tuition, but in Harambee our Rwandan friends rallied and got her through.     A few questioned sending our daughter to a university we could not afford.   A Rwandan family told me, “If we can get her through one semester.   God can do others.”  

I took 40 days away from Rwanda to put Sophia in college.  As I left her to return to Rwanda she hugged me and said, “I was right.    You’re leaving me.”    We giggled.   The painful transition was easier. 

A year later we arrived in Chicago.   It’s been three years rebooting as missionaries to America.    We fell into debt and poverty.    Yet, two things kept us going.   First, we needed to be on the same continent as all of our kids.   Our first task was to shepherd them.   Second, America is a Post-Christian nation.    Our East African Diaspora people are in the USA.   Our Diaspora people fit the church planter profile growing church movements look for more so than any demographic category in the USA.   Someone must shepherd them as missionaries to America.

Sophia at a Traditional Wedding in Uganda
When Sophia was about 10 we walked home from a kwanjula (Traditional Ugandan Wedding.)   She told me, “Dad, when I get married I want to have a traditional wedding.”    She meant an African Traditional Wedding.

When Matthew Cardillo asked me if he could marry Sophia my only concern was my daughter’s wishes.   I trusted her judgment.    My task was to bless and honor.

On Friday, July 3 our East African Diaspora rallied to bless Matthew and Sophia in a Gusaba (Rwandan) / Kwanjula (Ugandan) / Traditional African Wedding.    Over 250 people from 10 nations (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States of America) attended.   The attire was exquisite.    The humor was full of joy and wisdom.    The food was great.   The dancing was captivating.    When it came time to bless the Cardillos over $5,000 was contributed.    

On Saturday, July 4 our families had a small church wedding for the Cardillos.

On Friday, July 10 our Chicago based missionary family drove Matthew and Sophia Cardillo to
Matthew and Sophia Cardillo at their Gusaba
the O’Hare Airport.   We said, “Good bye.”      Sophia is returning home to serve as a missionary teacher at Kigali International Community School (KICS.)
   Matthew is doing what missionaries have always done.   He’s following his best friend, showing up, and trusting for God to use him for His glory.

I hugged Sophia and told her, “I was right.   You’re leaving me.”

We laughed.   I watched Matthew and her go through security until I could no longer see them.   
I cried a little.   I took a nap when I got home and then awoke to take a long bike ride to both grief and celebrate.    

On Saturday, July 11 I spent the evening with the South Sudanese Community in Chicago celebrating their Independence.    

On Sunday, July 12 we called Matthew and Sophia in Rwanda.   They are good.     We trust their care to our community in Africa.

Later that Sunday I went to a celebration for a Kenyan friend, Mary Tororeiy who just completed her Ph.D. and will shortly return to Kenya.

As I left the celebration I went to watch my son, Ethan play soccer for the Chicago based Ugandan Cranes. 

Some summarize the current season of Diaspora Missions as “from all nations to all nations.”  It is true.   We live that out.

Others remark that “All Christians are missionaries.”    I disagree.   When all Christians are missionaries none are missionaries.   (I’ll blog later extensively on that matter with an open Bible.)    Also, the ability to make key missions strategic decisions is undermined when there are no priorities or philosophic commitments.

Here are some big picture missionary sweeps.     Over the last 100 years Africa has been transformed by church planting missionaries.   There are more evangelical Christians now in Africa than in North America.   That growth ushered in great social changes ranging from the stopping of the slave trade to the relinquishment of colonialism.    We’re thankful that we were a small part in that historic movement.      In contemporary times that movement is about things such as education and business.   One of our missionary mentors, Dr. Dwight Jackson says, “We can’t be for the liberation of the poor if we’re not for the establishment of the middle class.”   We concur.    

Sophia returns to teach at a KICS that creates an environment to support both missionaries and the establishment of East Africa’s middle class.

We stay on the mission field of America helping those East African Diaspora missionaries adapt to and transform Post-Christian America.

It’s all painful.   Yet it is God’s missionary call.

Jana and Sophia at Gusaba
Let me drop Bible and missionary strategy for a moment and be parentally concise. 

You’re not a missionary if your parents don’t stand at the airport and cry as you leave.   

My parents do that when they leave Chicago, but marvel at the character of our African missionaries here.

I do that as I watch Matt and Sophia leave from O’Hare for Rwanda.

May God’s peace travel with all of His missionaries around the world.    May missionary parents’ hearts be comforted.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


1.       Early in 2013 we noticed how much America was in need of church planting missionaries.   When Jana and I asked the kids, “If we church plant what type of church should we plant?”    They responded, “Multi-cultural.”    When we Googled, “Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods” we found them to be on Chicago’s north side where Sophia had lived from September to December 2012 (http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-who-settles-refugees-chicagos-north-side-104781,  http://www.examiner.com/article/study-discovers-chicago-s-five-most-diverse-neighborhoods, http://loyolastudentdispatch.com/2011/01/15/census-shows-rogers-park-most-diverse-neighborhood-in-chicago/, http://www.tenthousandripples.com/tenthousandripples.com/crp.html.)  Once again, Sophia led the way.

2.         A few of us who had been blessed by Rwanda realized that no Genocide Commemoration was planned for the Chicago area.  Thus we began organizing one.    A Genocide Commemoration was held at the Misseo Dei Church in Chicago on Saturday, April 13.     The grieving were comforted.  Some of those unaware of Rwanda’s Genocide were informed. (For more info http://en.igihe.com/news/rwanda-community-in-chicago-marks-19th.html)

3.       Caleb chose to instead of spending his high school senior year in a new high school to take a GED and enroll at the College of DuPage (a local community college.)   
He did tremendously well.    He played in the band.   He served with The Crew (Campus Crusade.)   He became part of a new church plant, The Church at DuPage.    He was accepted at Wheaton College, plays in the band, and like Sophia is in Work Out (Theater group)  We are very proud of Caleb's resilience. (To read more http://jenkinsinrwanda.blogspot.com/2013/05/caleb-jenkins-definition-of-mk.html) 

4.       During the summer we were homeless without either a place to stay or the resources to pay rent.    We used this season to visit family and friends and explain the vision( http://jenkinsinrwanda.blogspot.com/2013/09/were-expecting.html.)  In August Dave and Ethan came back to Chicago to try to start.    Rwandan friend, Alba Kamary found an available apartment in our budget.   Our upstairs neighbor is Lewie Clark, a fellow church planter among the Jewish community.   Jana’s prayers for good neighbors were answered (http://jana-joyinthejourney.blogspot.com/2013/09/homeless-no-more.html.)

5.       All of our kids had been home schooled at some point in our missionary journey except for Ruth.   As we considered the complexities of navigating Chicago Public Schools as an 8th grader we decided it was the whisper of God to home school Ruth her 8th grade year.   We’ve greatly enjoyed her daily presence in our home.    She is blossoming as a photographic artist. 

6.       We registered Timothy for a fall soccer season before we had enrolled him in school.     At his first game other parents asked, “Where is he going to school?”   Dave responded, “We have not figured that out yet.”    Other parents made some phone calls.   Three days later he started school at Waters Elementary, a fine arts magnet school.   It was the timing of God as Timothy got their 1 remaining 5th grade opening during the last day they accepted new students.

7.       Ethan began the school year at Chicago Hope Academy – Chicago’s only non-denominational preparatory   high school.    He played soccer, was chosen as one of the team captains, and made Second Team All Conference.   We’re thankful for how African soccer nurtured both Ethan and Timothy’s success and adaptation (http://jenkinsinrwanda.blogspot.com/2013/10/soccer-is-life-or-everything-i-needed.html.)

8.       We spent Christmas Eve with Jacob and Mona Zikusooka’s family, old friends from Uganda and Kenya.   We had done their pre-marital counseling many years earlier.    When Gabriel Mugisha Jacobs was having seizures we stayed with them in Nairobi as we sought medical care.    After 18 months away from Africa it was very good to have old friends near during the holidays.    They gave us an African map and blessed us with having it colored in with Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda nations we had served.   They blessed us with a belief that our influence would grow in Chicago by serving Diaspora from nations different than our African locations.   They asked for us to record each time we served a new nation on the map.

9.       In 2012 Dave had preached at a Liberian church in Chicago.   In 2013 Dave preached at a Tanzanian fellowship and a South Sudanese church.    We colored in those nations on Jacob’s map, and trusted Jacob’s blessing for our future.

10.   In 2014 Ignite Church Planting plans to join our partnership ( http://www.ignitechurchplanting.com/.)  Also, Abilene Christian University plans to begin a Chicago cohort for their masters in Global Service degreehttp://www.acu.edu/academics/gst/prospective/degrees/global-service/ ) and has asked for Dave to be a supervisor of a one year ministry internship..   Thus we face 2014 with hope in what God will continue to do through our dream of shepherding East Africans as church planters (http://jenkinsinrwanda.blogspot.com/2013/08/10-point-vision-of-shepherding-africa.html.)

Our ministry is only possible due to the generous support of people like you.   Some of our historic partners were unable to continue their financial support of our family’s ministry in 2013 and our funding was very low.    Yet generous surprise donations helped us make it.   December is usually one of our key months in fund discovery.    Can you make a year end gift?   

You can give via the following methods:

·    Monthly bank draft (email us for form)

·    On line Credit Card 1-time or monthly (https://rocfoundation.worldsecuresystems.com/Donation-Form)

·    Check: use following address: 

              ROC Partners
              3007 NW 63rd, Ste 205
              Oklahoma City, OK 73116-3605
              Memo: Jenkins

Thank you for making the past year possible through your prayers, encouragement, and financial gifts.

Mungu akubariki (May God bless you),

Dave and Jana

Thursday, December 26, 2013


The Lord taught us how to celebrate Christmas in Africa.    After the Lord’s birth He soon fled as a refugee to Egypt / Africa (Matthew 2:13-23.)   In Africa He was safe and blessed.   

  There is something about the experience of sojourning that displays Africa’s ability to bless.    Home is heaven.   Everything else is temporary.    Home for Christmas means we are where God has called us on this earth serving with family and friends.   

Young Sophia with Jacob and Mona
Our first years in Africa were difficult during the Christmas season.    Yet, those first years taught us that we must display the Lord’s compassion.    The churches we shepherded were open at every opportunity over the Christmas season.   Our home also was full of people.     We assumed there were many who felt a sense of loss at Christmas.    Thus we must celebrate in community.   The Lord is near.   The Lord saves us from all our sins (Matthew 1:21-23.)   In that process of service Africa blessed us.  

Our second Christmas in our Chicago missionary posting had a familiar feel.   Africa blessed us again.    

In our early years in Uganda Jana and I mentored a young couple preparing to marry, Jacob and Mona Zikusooka.   Sophia was in their wedding.     We may have blessed the Zikusooka’s, but we were also truly blessed by their youth.   

Timothy, Gabe, and us with the Zikusookas and their daughter, Jasmine
As time went on the Zikusooka’s moved to Nairobi.    We lost a bit of touch.    Yet, in 2011 when we traveled to Nairobi seeking healing from seizures for our foster son, Gabriel Mugisha Jacobs we stayed with the Zikusookas.    When Mugisha went into seizures our families held him and prayed.     Eventually a drug combination was found and the seizures went away. In Christmas 2011 Africa blessed again.   

Starting over as missionaries can be a very lonely season.    Mystery reigns.    We can be active in prayer and listening.     Yet when asked by donors, “What are you doing?”   The answers only make sense if one understands the missionary journey.

Chicago is not where we grew up.    America changed greatly while we were away.   Being a missionary to America is not “home.”   In seasons like this visitors from “home” are the treasures of earth.    They remind us of the kingdom in our midst.

Jacob and Mona traveled to the USA this Christmas for Mona to do her residency as she
Chrismas Eve 2013 with the Zikusookas
studies for a Ph.D.    An added blessing was for them to visit family and friends.   They spent Christmas Eve with us.   

Then they gave gifts.    One was a kitenge shirt for Dave.   Another was a purse for Jana.   Yet, one was a very deep blessing that proclaimed our future and gave ongoing responsibility.   Jacob gave us an African map key chain.   On the map were nations in which we have served (Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda) colored in.   
Then he spoke, “I believe you are just where God has called you to be.    In Africa you can only serve in your location.   In Chicago you can serve the many places of the Diaspora.    Your influence will grow here.”

Last year Dave preached at a Liberian church.   This year Dave preached at a Tanzanian fellowship.  A few days ago Dave was asked to preach at a South Sudanese church.   Jacob told us to have each nation we serve in Diaspora to etch their nation off of the map.    Africa blesses again.

As we come to the end of the year we trust the blessings of our African family.   In relinquishment of being located in Africa we can have greater influence for Christ in dispersion.

Can you make a year end gift to bless our family and ministry?   If so you can send a check to 

ROC Partners
- Jenkins Memo
3007 NW 63rd Ste 205
Oklahoma City, OK 73116-3605

Or you can make an on line donation at https://rocfoundation.worldsecuresystems.com/Donation-Form

Mungu akubariki (God bless you),

Dave and Jana