By Jamie Shafer
Regardless of our position in the workforce, God has called us to a role in his kingdom. Some are missionaries in their workplace. Others are missionaries in a foreign land. A few find ways to do both.
“It was the summer of 2007 when a letter in a brown envelope and 23 Kenyan stamps was delivered to me. As I read the letter, a picture formed in my mind of a lonely man of God in the bush of Kenya praying and serving his village in the name of Jesus.” For Ned Campbell, this request for help from David Kayando began the story of the Jubilee Village Project in Kager, Kenya.
A Time of Preparation
Although he grew up in a Christian home where he knew God, Campbell says he didn’t truly claim his personal relationship with Jesus Christ until he was a young adult. As he continued involvement in his local church, God continued growing him each step of the way through mentoring relationships and close friendships in small groups. Serving as a youth leader helped him learn more about studying the Bible and how to teach it to others.
Volunteering also offered Campbell the opportunity to travel on mission trips for the first time. “My first time, we went to a place in rural North Carolina,” notes Campbell. “Seeing poverty for the very first time really impacted me.”
He went on to read the book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Thomas Nelson, 1997), by Ronald Sider and remembers how its insights moved him.
On a parallel track, Campbell’s career was growing. He has served as an executive in several companies, including healthcare-related organizations. Again through a mentoring relationship, he learned how to share his faith at work through simple things like letting others know that he made decisions by biblical principles, or just being available to pray with people. Campbell says over the years it has also meant standing up for truth and being people-oriented.
He and his wife Melissa felt grateful for their blessings and sensed that God wanted to do something through them on a global level. That opportunity arrived in a brown envelope from Kenya.
A Time of Commitment
In recounting the start of JVP, Ned says, “For close to six months I carried this letter in my briefcase, only thinking of it occasionally.” Then in December 2007 he found himself reading Isaiah 6:6-8.
“It was when I read these words that I fully understood why the letter had been delivered to me. God wanted me to be the ‘Here Am I’ answer to the prayers of Kager Village. From that day on, the village of Kager has been on my heart and I know that this is an important part of my journey with God. God is teaching me how he answers prayers—and that I am to use my gifts, resources, and connections to answer the prayers for help from David Kayando and the villagers of Kager.”
Kayando’s original plea was for help in purchasing transportation to get patients from Kager to area medical clinics. Campbell began applying his business knowledge along with his church and mission field experiences to form an approach that would help those in the village of Kager learn to stand on their own for the long term. He organized volunteer teams to work with local villagers to address major needs like food, farming, water, sanitation, shelter, health, energy, transportation, education, and more.
The love of Christ has been shared in countless ways in Kager. The future of the villagers is improving. Those who travel there on a “village visit” leave forever changed. For Campbell, it has been a labor of love blessed by new relationships and opportunities.
When asked how he manages to keep up with his family of five, maintain a demanding career, and change the world, he replies with ease. “It starts with my wife. I couldn’t do it without her. She encourages me to follow my passion.” He also notes, “I’ve learned to be efficient with my time. I don’t sleep much, although that’s changing as I get older. I don’t have a lot of hobbies; my hobby is my ministry. And I don’t do it alone.”
Learn more: jubileevillage.org
Jamie Shafer is the communications director at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.