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Faith Shingledecker

Retired Missionary to Kenya
"Open to Whatever God Wants"
By Kendra Housel, Intern, April 2020

Faith Shingledecker’s call to ministry was not one she embraced easily. However, God was persistent and clear that she was meant to spend her life serving in Kenya.

As the child of two career missionaries in Burundi, Africa, Faith felt inadequate in her own ability to serve God. When she came to the United States to attend Houghton Academy in New York for her high school education, many people asked her if she was planning to go into missionary work like the rest of her family. She struggled with insecurities and doubts throughout her time at Asbury University until she graduated from medical technology school and began working in a hospital lab in Lexington, Kentucky. It was during this time that the love of God truly began to permeate and change her heart, helping her to realize, as she says, that “John 3:16 could have been written: ‘For God so loved Faith, that he gave his only son (ESV, author paraphrase).

Shortly thereafter, Faith remembered the significance that John 3:16 begins with “for God so loved the world” (emphasis added), and she became open to the idea of serving as a missionary. After visiting her parents in Africa and touring around to different countries with hospitals where she could potentially serve, Faith was convinced: she would be staying in the US the rest of her life. These hospitals either had no need for new staff or had no laboratory, and she did not feel equipped to begin a new hospital laboratory from scratch. Faith told the Lord that she “was willing to go as a missionary or to stay in the US, but he would have to make it very clear.” She expressed she would only go if He had someone call her and ask her to go into the mission field for a year. A year later, that is exactly the confirmation she received.

Around a year after she began praying about missionary work, Faith received a phone call from Burnis Bushong who at the time was serving as the vice president of Field Ministries at World Gospel Mission. Burnis asked her if she would fill in for Carol Trachsel at the Tenwek hospital in Kenya for a year. She spent the next year working in the hospital laboratory. Though she returned to the US after that initial year and decided she would never go back, she could not ignore the fact that God was calling her to return. In response, she went back, and as God continued to reaffirm this calling year after year, she ended up serving for forty years, from 1979 until her retirement in 2019. During her decades of service, she taught in the school for medical technicians, was put in charge of the school, and served as the head of the lab. Her main ministry was within the lab where she spent much of her time, but she also deeply enjoyed going out to rural churches when she was able.

Faith says the thing she enjoyed most about her time in Kenya is the time she spent with people. Throughout her decades at Tenwek she was involved in mentorship, Bible studies, and discipleship groups, and she loved seeing how God was changing the lives of those she lived among, both the hospital staff and those she knew from church and the surrounding community. She learned so much about the joy of studying God’s Word among people who have a different culture than herself, as well as the way He is always sovereign and in control.

In retirement, Faith has moved to Wilmore, Kentucky and says, “[I am] open to whatever God wants me to do in these retirement years.”

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