Australian Presbyterian World Mission


My Long Term Mission

Elspeth's Story


For me long term mission was not about great achievements, not about how God could use my gifts and training, or about counting results and outcomes. It was not about what I could do for God, but what he was doing in me. In 1973 I went to help with famine relief in Ethiopia. A three month commitment stretched to 34 years with APWM Partner Agency SIM, in Ethiopia and later in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Stretched way beyond my training as a nurse, my faith was tested, my relationship with God deepened. Often African brothers and sisters were my teachers, I was the learner. There were times of loneliness, stress of work overload, difficult inter-personal tensions, personal grief. But these were far outweighed by the joy of spending your life for others, sharing your faith, seeing people growing in their understanding of God and his Word, and learning to apply that Word to daily life in their own culture.

Learning other languages and gaining understanding of culture takes years, but is invaluable for reaching people through their mother tongue. How difficult and humbling trying to express deep things of the faith in stumbling, infant talk. But through these struggles, friendships are developing, trust is being built. People are watching how your faith helps you to deal with the challenges of a life so foreign to what you have known. Amazingly God can use all this to open peoples hearts and minds to respond to him.

I have had the great privilege, not only of ministering to physical needs, but of helping to equip men and women to take God's Word to their own people and beyond their own ethnic borders. This has brought countless opportunities to experience God's unchanging faithfulness. I have no regrets!

Elspeth Slater