Making Retirement Count: Jim and Lisa Teach in Africa

01/16/14

Retirement couldn't have been nicer for Jim and Lisa Stowers. They had a beautiful house, a few grandchildren, and a large garden and art studio to spend their days in. But God had bigger plans. 

 
"We had always wanted to do foreign missions," says Lisa. "But we never really had the time. Once we were retired, it seemed like it could work." 
 
Looking for a one- to two-year assignment where they could serve in a foreign country, the Stowers originally tried to sign up for the Peace Corps. "But we just kept hitting red tape," Jim explains. "We were very discouraged."
 
"We had always wanted to do foreign missions," says Lisa.
"We had always wanted to do foreign missions, but we never really had time," says Lisa. "Once we were retired, it seemed like it could work."
 
Then, one day, Jim and Lisa got an email. "It said, we need you to go teach in Sierra Leone," laughs Lisa. "We felt like it was written directly to us." 
 
It wasn't easy to leave their home, grandchildren, aging parents, and dog. But they felt a clear call from God, and considered the sacrifice worth it. A few months after they got the email, Jim and Lisa took off for Sierra Leone to teach for one year at the Children of the Nations school. 
 
It wasn't easy to leave their friends and family at home in the US, but Jim, Lis
It wasn't easy to leave their friends and family at home in the US, but Jim, Lisa, and the rest of the Go Teach team felt it was something God was calling them to do.
 
"We had a strong sense that God wanted us to spend at least some of our talent and energy serving in another country," Jim explains. "Personally, I don't think my life would be complete if I didn't serve others, and go beyond what is comfortable or conventional." 
 
Adjusting to a new culture and living in a remote village without the amenities and independence they were used to has been a challenge for Jim and Lisa. But they believe all these comforts are far less important than following and serving God. 
 
"I feel a very strong sense that this is where God wants us to be," Jim explains. "And that's rewarding for me. God didn't send us here because it was going to be easy. I might just be here to change one person—some little thing that one person will transfer to another person—who knows?"
 
Jim and Lisa see rewards in their work, and in their relationships with the kids
               Jim and Lisa see rewards in their work, and in their relationships with the kids they're teaching.
 
The work is not without its rewards, either. "Just working individually with some of the kids—I've done some tutoring," Lisa explains, "and when they see the light, that's so rewarding."
 
Jim and Lisa will stay in Sierra Leone until the school year ends in July. Then, beginning in September, the school will need more teachers like them to "Go Teach" for a year. Could God be calling you to be one of them? 
 
Contact COTN’s International Education Director Wendy Brown at 360-698-7227 ext 1025 or wendybrown@cotni.org if you’re interested in teaching in Africa.