Vision become reality for missionary in Kenya
Housebound for 13 years with chronic fatigue syndrome, Norwich teenager Joy McCann dreamt of working in East Africa. Today, she is a young missionary in Kenya and has just taken on a new role there for the Vineyard church network.
“In 2015,” said Joy, “I had a remarkable recovery after suffering for 13 years with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME. While this is labelled as an invisible illness, it had effects which were very evident in my life.”
Joy went from being a strong-minded adolescent just starting high school in 2002, to being bed-ridden and having to stay in the dark due to light sensitivity. The illness had a massive effect on her teenage and early adult years.
“I was a Christian and knew Jesus in my heart,” she said. “But never did I know him more than during those years of illness. They shaped who I am today, and I honestly believe God used them for my good. He didn’t cause the illness, but He most certainly used it.”
Joy’s dream to live and work in East Africa formed as she lay in her room, not even able to watch TV. In the darkness and silence, she saw what she believed to be visions of herself in Africa.
“I always believed it was East Africa, for some reason,” she remembers. “I saw myself dancing in traditional clothes with children, speaking in churches, and baptising people. I wondered how on earth this could ever happen, but that closeness I had with Jesus caused me to somehow believe that I would be able to use my experiences of hopelessness, fear, and illness to encourage a community I was yet to meet.”
The family tried several treatments, including physiotherapy, vitamin tablets, and even fish oil. While they would sometimes see a little improvement, she was still in pain and exhausted.
However, Joy also received prayer ministry the whole way through the illness, and this did have a big impact on her life and her visions. In the final year of illness, the prayer ministry happened at Gateway Vineyard Church in Norwich.
“I had heard of the Vineyard movement but had never been part of it,” she explains. “When my parents joined the church in 2014, my mum told me they were eager to meet me and pray for my healing. I still remember the first time I felt my arm become well as they prayed. Sometimes if felt like a battle, but one day in worship I felt the entire illness leave my body. It was a very surreal experience, but undeniable. I was able to do everything. No tiredness.”
Joy found herself a healthy 25-year-old, with no experience of being an adult in the outside world, and only a primary school education. However, what she had gained in that time of illness remained: a closeness with the person of Jesus, and a vision to live and work in East Africa.
A friend of hers had a charity in Mwanza, Tanzania, called Tanzania Bridge of Hope, and she offered to take Joy there. “When I arrived in Tanzania I wept as I saw the very things I had seen in those visions in my dark room,” she said. In 2016 she moved to Tanzania, started working in Bridge of Hope Day Care and also with street children, becoming fluent in Kiswahili.
Two years later, however, several doors unexpectedly closed, and Joy came back to England. She did an internship at Gateway Vineyard Church in Norwich, attended the Vineyard National Leaders Conference and went to a mission seminar. There she learned of Trinity Vineyard Church in Nakuru, Kenya. She was excited at the prospect of seeing what another part of East Africa might look like and arrived in Nakuru in 2019.
“I saw the very strong giftings and drive which Kenyan people have,” she said, “and their motivation to see change in their communities and individual lives.” She began to get very involved in Trinity Vineyard Church Nakuru, and their leadership team.
Joy is now working as a self-funded missionary in Kenya under the Association of Vineyard Churches. Before she came, she had never led worship or written a sermon, but now she is regularly leading worship on Sundays. She works especially with the women and is excited to see more female leaders emerging. “I have baptised people,” she said, “and watched them being healed, just as I saw in my visions.”
The biggest thing she says about the whole journey is that East Africa has changed her. “I invite you to be challenged and changed by the amazing people here, their heart and their creativity, their love and care.”
If you are interested in supporting Joy’s journey, connecting cross culturally or simply want to know more, feel free to contact her on email@example.com
Pictured above is Joy McCann with friends at Trinity Vineyard Church in Nakuru, Kenya.