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When God Calls Global Workers Home

The Jansens’ Story
By Maggie Watts  ·  4 minute read
Learning Center  »  When God Calls Global Workers Home

Perry and Brenda Jansen lived in Malawi for 16 years. They were part of the National Ministry of Health’s HIV treatment program, and they funded a nonprofit for HIV treatment called Partners In Hope.

Perry said it was only by God’s grace that they had these opportunities to serve in Malawi, and only by His grace that they could fund Partners In Hope successfully.

Called Home

Eventually, God began calling the Jansens to leave Malawi and return to the United States. He burdened their hearts to return to the U.S. to care for their aging parents and to be more involved in their adult children’s lives.

“We felt a call to be home—whatever home is—back in the U.S. to care for aging parents. And then our second-born child, I think, really needed, and still needs, a lot more active involvement in her life to see her through the adulting process,” Perry said.

But even so, the decision to leave Malawi was not easy.

“It was a hard thing for me,” Perry shared. “We grew this organization from five people to about 600 people at the time. I was thinking, ‘How am I going to ever hand this off?’”

Bob Hay is the Deputy Director of Member Care at SIM USA. He has been the Member Care Facilitator for the Jansens since 2004.

“I manage a portfolio of about 130 to 140 adults, some of them married, some singles, and I walk with them through whatever happens in their lives,” Hay explained. “Transitioning from serving overseas back to the United States is one of those journeys.”

“For the Jansens, the decision to remain stateside with everything that was going on and going well with their ministry in Malawi— to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading—that’s where it’s tough,” Hay said.

Surrendering to His Will

The Jansens began praying with local believers about the decision to leave Malawi. Perry brought a list of requirements to God—things he wanted God to provide for Partners In Hope to guarantee its success.

“Brenda and our friends, Bruce and Paulette, sort of said, ‘Well… God doesn’t need you to set out the requirements… what if God’s going to do something else?” Perry said. “Very early on, it was like disassembling my plans that I had set in place and God saying, ‘I have something else in mind.’”

It was challenging to surrender Partners In Hope to God. But the call to return to the U.S. continued to press on Perry and Brenda’s hearts. Perry said the final push was realizing he needed to be in the U.S. to send his middle child to college.

“That was sort of the final straw, but it was God’s hands because He had already put in place some Malawian leadership that could competently take over what we had started,” Perry said.

Hay said it is usually harder for missionaries to return to the United States after serving overseas than leaving the States for missions. There is a grieving process—grieving the plans and expectations you had for your ministry and not knowing what lies ahead.

“The coming back is so much more difficult because it hits you in ways you never imagined and just from different angles,” he said. “When you talk to people who have no clue about that, it’s really difficult.”

Caring for God’s Workers

The SIM USA Member Care team includes member care facilitators with years of overseas mission experience. Because of this shared experience, member care facilitators can empathize with missionaries as they return home and uniquely understand their situations.

“The biggest thing that I offer is a willingness to listen to whatever they have to say,” Hay said. He desires to help them grieve well by asking the questions he wished someone would have asked him when he returned home from overseas and helping them feel seen, known, and heard.

Hay calls SIM Member Care relationships “an ellipses rather than an exclamation point” because they are ongoing.

“With the Jansens, I’ve walked through several transitions with them, and it’s been lovely to see each other and immediately be back at the same point because we live in the ellipses rather than an exclamation point,” he said.

Far Beyond What He Envisioned

Partners In Hope is currently being run by three Ph. D.-level Malawian women. Perry says they have almost tripled Partners In Hope’s size, budget, impact, and staff, with 1,500 employees working in nine districts in Malawi, caring for 200,000 people with HIV.

Perry said this is far beyond what he could have envisioned for Partners In Hope.

Since returning to the U.S., God has continued to provide medical ministry opportunities to the Jansens. Perry currently serves with African Mission Healthcare, working with 35 hospitals in 18 African countries. He is helping to train national physicians and healthcare workers in Africa.

God’s plans usually look different from ours, but His ways are always perfect. We can confidently trust Him to care for His people in ways that far exceed our visions.

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