The Word on the Week

Jon and Sandra Blackwell

Jon and Sandra Blackwell         Word on the Week         21st November 2020.

This Sunday will ‘officially’ mark the end of Jon and Sandra’s ministries at Grace.   It is fittingly being marked by a special service.  A generation in Biblical terms is 40 years and Jon and Sandra, like king David served his day and generation well in many ministries both in and out from Grace Church (Acts Chapter 13 verse 36).

If Jon was the leader Sandra was always the power behind the throne.   Not only did she support Jon in Ireland but travelled with him in his missionary work abroad.   Her God-given ability to adapt to changing tasks was amazing.

At home she learned sign language in order to communicate with the deaf.  She was a Foster Mother to over 40 children ending with a Nigerian family whom we got to know and love at Grace.   But it was in the exemplary care of her aging Mother that Sandra left us a wonderful example to follow.

When Jon realised that, since he had branched out on his own, his work had largely taken over his life leaving little time for family and Christian witness.     A radical solution was required!   It came in the form of re-locating Sandra and their five children to Yaoundé, Cameroon, where they re-orientated and Jon drove the school bus for the Wycliffe kids!

Training in Bible translation work had taken place in the UK but no amount of preparation could have equipped them for the field.   After much prayer the Lord led them to N-W Cameroon where they settled in Bamunka. 

In a previous existence Jon had advised on planning issues in Latvia and overseen low cost housing in Papua New Guinea – acquiring skills which may have been some value in kitting out housing in Cameroon!   A partially completed house was rented quite near Pastor Edward’s Church and duly equipped with solar power and some rudimentary plumbing with the help of the older children.  With the family safely boarded in school accommodation in Yaoundé the work of writing down, for the first time, the local language started.

What has enabled the work of translation of the New Testament and also the literacy work of teaching the language has been the strong relationships Jon and Sandra have built with the local church leaders.    This has contributed to the success of Water for Cameroon, an ancillary work which is improving people’s health by providing clean water.

These are now indigenous ministries which are continuing in the midst of serious civil disturbance and with virtually daily internet input from Dublin.   This has permitted Jon to be used in, among other things, securing our new premises.

The church has been privileged to pray and support these ministries which, by God’s grace will continue when we all have left this scene of time.               

Soli Deo Gloria.