SAMS Missionary Mary Chowenhill teaches business as ministry at Uganda Christian University. She recently helped launch a small-business “incubator” at the university where she also lives. She shared a story with me about some of her Senders who support and love her through Christ in remarkable ways. The following first-person testimony, edited for clarity, is based on emails and a phone conversation with Mary. – Kate Ulrich, SAMS Communications Coordinator

As a missionary, I am truly humbled by the faithfulness of my senders—in prayer, financial support, and also in the ways they care for me when I am at home. There is even one family who has “adopted” me!

I am thankful for Wally and Virginia Pillsbury whose home, in Orange Park, Florida, is now my home when I’m in the USA. When I went to Florida in 2018 for Home Ministry Assignment, my Sudanese-American godchildren were staying at my house and the space was tight. Wally and Virginia saw my situation, and they sat me down and said, “Mary we prayed about this and we think you should stay at our house whenever you come back from Uganda.” About 3 or 4 years ago they had begun looking at downsizing to a smaller house, but the Lord laid it on their heart to adjust their current set-up so that their home could be a place of refuge for others.

Wally and Virginia steered me to those who helped with the sale of my house, and they made their home my home, too. Home ownership in the United States was a burden for me, and now I am freer to serve in Uganda. Now I live with them as part of their family when I’m on Home Ministry Assignment. They not only welcome me, but also my guests, including a touring choir from Uganda during my last stay! Virginia said, “This is your home.” They give me a car when I am there. We eat many meals together. I have the run of the place as a home, and have the flexibility to come and go as I please.

Wally and Virginia Pillsbury with their adopted son Shane, one of seven grown children. Wally and Virginia sensed the Lord calling them to make their house a refuge for people like their sister in Christ, SAMS Missionary Mary Chownhill.

When I was there last, we had my godchildren at “my house” for Christmas – anyone that is my family is their family. The Pillsbury’s have seven children. One of their sons, whom they adopted, was my student when I was a high school teacher in Florida years ago. It was wonderful to be together and it was like we were all part of the same family. All of these family members make for an amazing Christian community because we have a phenomenal opportunity to show each other how God loves us in so many ways.

Virginia (center, in plaid) and Wally Pillsbury welcomed Mary Chowenhill’s family into their home for Christmas. They have told Mary, “this is your home,” for when she is in the U.S. on Home Ministry Assignment. Their generous hospitality frees Mary to devote more energy to her ministry in Uganda.
Mary reflects on her experience at the SAMS Retreat and New Wineskins Conference with her Sender Nikki: “As was said at New Wineskins, ministry is much better together.”

In addition to this family there are so many Senders who faithfully give monthly, quarterly and annually to my ministry. My faithful prayer partner Nikki attended the SAMS Retreat and the New Wineskins Global Missions Conference with me last September. All this is a reinforcement of Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

My Senders’ example teaches us to ask: what do we do to show Christ’s love in our world? What is it that God calls us to, and how do we reflect his love in the circumstances he places us in? With physical distancing in the COVID-19 situation we need to ask: how do we touch the lives of those beyond our physical touch? We need to “think outside the box” and ask God how he is leading us to bless others.