Thriving and Surviving in a Rapidly Changing World
Louise Duncan was in her 20s when she left Glasgow, where she’d grown up, for Africa.
With her husband Robert, they went to Northern Ghana, to one of the most remote places in world; where communities of tens of thousands of people get cut off from food supplies and medical care in the rainy seasons.
Robert and Louise planned to set up a church in the area, helped out by some friends that had lived there much longer and paid by the Church of Scotland as missionaries, they settled in a house in a small town called Sandema.
Very quickly they realised that a British church was not what the local people needed.
They were dying.
Many in the area had a disease called river blindness, there was starvation and there was a lack of understanding about hygiene.
In fact, for a community of 70,000 people, they had never had a trained doctor or nurse before.
So Louise, who was trained as a midwife back in Scotland, started doing as much as she could.
She set up a makeshift clinic under a tree and turned her ‘Good Luck’ cards from back home into medical records.
As soon as possible she returned to Scotland to get medical supplies. In two suitcases she carried as much as she could on the ship back to Sandema.
After a while they managed to build a little clinic and used their Land Rover to shuttle pregnant women to the nearest hospital when things got desperate (often these women ended up giving birth on the road).
All this was in 1956.
Today, the clinic that Louise set up is a small hospital and it is still where the community get access to healthcare.
She stayed until the 1970s - almost dying of Tuberculosis in the 60s, but managing to survive.
So what has this got to do with doing evangelism in Bridlington or Hull or Thirsk?
I relied on God more than I ever had before
- Louise Duncan
Louise was an ordinary person.
None of her family had ever been to University, she was a working woman, who chose to go to Africa for some adventure and because she wanted to share the love of God with the people she met.
But when she got there, things were not what she had expected. They were chaotic, dangerous and confusing.
Louise had to adapt.
And so do we. Whatever the context - we have to listen, respond and love.
If you want to set up an NWC then one of the biggest things that will make a difference is do you adapt to needs or do you stubbornly stick to your plan?
Do you try do what everyone else has already done or do you look for the unique needs of your community and the people you are meeting?
In interview in 2015 shortly before she died, Louise said in Sandema she did things she never thought she was capable of doing - she built a community hall, she saved the lives of thousands of people and she shared the love of Jesus with people in a way that made sense to them.
Most of all she said - she relied on God more than she ever had before.