Friday, April 26, 2013


This may be sobering, but in 2013 at the age of 46 is the first time I’ve ever paid income tax in the United States.  It is a privilege for which I am thankful.  My kids go to good public schools, the police don’t stop me at road blocks to work a bribe, and I’ve never driven in and out of a pot hole in the USA as big as my car.   Paying taxes for such privileges seems quite just in the big picture of humanity.

            It is not that I’ve never paid taxes.   Uganda and Rwanda both had Value Added Taxes that ran in the 17% range.  Also, many of the goods that we purchased that were imported into East Africa such as fuel, vehicles, and items of basic hygiene (such as toothpaste) required customs taxes at the borders that increased their value by 30 to 100%.   The taxes we paid in Uganda and Rwanda were one of the reasons that during our season in those nations our COLA (Cost of Living / Loving Adjustment) rating put living in both capital cities at about 50% more expensive than most cities in the American Midwest.

            Thus it felt like a mysterious season of both fear and thankfulness as I spent a few days calculating my income taxes this year.  Before moving to East Africa my income as a college student and associate minister / pastor was too low to pay income taxes.  While living overseas we qualified for the foreign earned income exclusion (ranged from $70,000 to $90,000 during our tenure), and with a growing family that created numerous deductions we never crossed the income threshold that would have required for us to pay USA income taxes.   (Somewhere between $90,000 and $120,000 of annual income from 1993 to 2011.)

            As I went through Turbo Tax this year I watched the income taxes to pay number calculate a somewhat scary number.  Then I reached the point of entering two dependent children attending college (Sophia and Caleb), and saw the number plummet to the point of receiving a generous tax refund.   My spirit soared.  I fell back into African vernacular and screamed, “Hoo Yee (Hooray!)” with my hands in the air.

            Then I reached the next step of calculating my Illinois state income tax.   It was a remarkably simple process, and I eagerly waited to find out what tax refund the generous state of Illinois would give me.  Instead Turbo Tax kept telling me I owed state income taxes.   I thought surely this must be wrong.   I redid my state taxes three times, read and re-read Illinois tax law; and then finally relented.

   The Federal government would give me a generous return.   The State of Illinois would take a sizable portion.  My kids go to good public schools, the police don’t stop me at road blocks to work a bribe, and I’ve never driven in and out of a pot hole in the USA as big as my car.   Paying taxes for such privileges seems quite just in the big picture of humanity.  A few days after paying my Illinois income taxes I voted for the first time in a local Wheaton School Board Election.  It felt right to have paid taxes and then cast my ballot for who I thought could best lead our community.   I’m thankful for the privilege.

            A few weeks ago and old friend of mine from graduate school at Abilene Christian University called.   I had not heard from him in years.  It was a delightful conversation.  He asked some questions about our beginning ministry and we shared the hopes for Great Lakes Fellowship (for news and photos of the Rwanda Genocide Commemoration in Chicago check out and

He asked how we were doing financially.  I shared that December giving had been fabulous.   Yet our monthly giving is down about 70% and we’ll shortly run out of savings.  He decided to send a portion of his tax refund to us.   We’re very thankful for such friends.

 Paulin Byusa, Ame Ishimwe, Joseph Masungenshu, and Joris Manzi
I thought a few others may be now getting a refund, thanking God for the privileges of life in the USA, and considering a way to generously share in God’s blessings.  If you would like to support our family’s ministry to the Diaspora of Africa’s Great Lakes in North America please send a check to 

Ignite Church Planting
P.O. Box 189
Schererville, IN 46375 

Online contributions can be made at
By clicking the "Donate" button you will be taken to a secure site on PayPal where you can give your donation.  Please use the 'Purpose' field at the top of the form to designate your gift: Jenkins - Multi-cultural Church 
Thanks for sharing with us in the privileges of citizenship in both this world and the one to come.

Mungu akubariki (May God bless you),


Thursday, April 11, 2013


Dear Family and Friends,

Twenty years ago we remember arriving in Uganda with good intentions to frequently communicate to our support network.  Instead missionary adaptation ate up our emotional and creative energy.  The Lord allowed us to succeed at the basic tasks of living.  The Lord gave us many friends.  He is doing the same in our new American posting.  Yet it has been a struggle to communicate.  Adaptation is still overwhelming.  Yet, we know to remember the Lord’s past goodness.  He is shaping us for His glory.

This month we ask your prayers for the following matters:

1. Rwanda Genocide Memorial in Chicago this coming Saturday, April 13:  19 years ago Rwanda experienced one of the greatest tragedies of humanity.  A few of us in Chicago are planning a Memorial.   May it deeply comfort the grieving.  May others learn this tragic event so our world can truly say, “Never again.”

2.   Discerning the USA Missionary Call:  We need an exceptional measure of wisdom from both God and men.  Please pray.

A.    Diaspora Struggle:  The people we call our own, the Diaspora from Africa’s Great Lakes (Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and Tanzania) are in Chicago.  We now guess they number over 5,000.  Many are struggling with some of the same adaptation issues that our family is currently going through.   Yet, we have a heritage of older missionaries who have coached us through this transition.  Our people are in need of a shepherd.

Dave, Marcus Ibrahim, and Nftali Mwaniki beginning
B.    Christianity in the USA:  As we try to put down roots in the USA 20 years after our Uganda departure we have many sobering moments.  Is our appraisal accurate?  Yet, almost everything we read tells us Christianity has not done well over the last 20 years.  Could God be asking for us to again launch into church planting?  He gave us spiritual gifts for this endeavor that were abundantly used in Africa.   Do they fit here?  Can our people rally with us to start anew?

3.  Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Care:  The Lord and His people have been remarkably kind.   We’ve stayed in the Missionary Furlough Homes in Wheaton, Illinois as our “missionary half-way house” as we’ve relearned America.   Over $20,000 was given by many of you in December in one time gifts.  These gifts have sustained us for the last few months.  Our kids are all doing well in school.  In fact, our son, Caleb has joined the core of a recent church plant called, “The Branch.”   We are very thankful.   May God receive our thanks.

4.  Daily Bread:  Yet we are facing some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced.   Our monthly funding is down by 70%.   We will run out of savings shortly.  Dave has applied for many jobs hoping his skills can make some extra income, but nothing has materialized.   We must leave the Missionary Furlough Homes in July.  We have almost no furniture, cooking utensils, etc… to set up a home.   God has quite an opportunity to display His providence and Glory.  We ask for our daily bread.

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement that sustain our family and ministry.

Us with Sam Gonzalez at ACU's Summit 2012
Mungo akubariki (God bless you), 

Dave and Jana

P.S.  Jana will be traveling to the Pepperdine Lectureship in a few weeks courtesy of her brother Wade Tarbet’s American Airline privileges with her parents Gaston and Jan Tarbet.   She looks forward to many reunions and divine appointments.