Global Ministry from Africa to Arizona

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Myra Adamson from Light & Life Communications on Vimeo.

Myra Adamson (Photo by Ben Forsberg)

Myra Adamson (Photo by Ben Forsberg)

Myra Adamson retired in the early 1990s after more than 30 years as a Free Methodist missionary in central Africa, but her cross-cultural ministry did not end.

“I was born in Africa, and I always dreaded the day when I would have to retire,” said Adamson, whose parents also were missionaries. “I would say, ‘Lord, I don’t want to know when it’s my last time to go to Africa.’ So then God brought Africa to me.”

One Sunday morning in 2010, a family of 12 entered the worship service at the Glendale (Ariz.) Light and Life Church that Adamson attended.

“They had just moved to the neighborhood about a week before. The U.S. government had moved them out of a refugee camp in Tanzania,” said Bob Young, a member of the Glendale congregation at the time. “They were Free Methodists from the country of Congo, and they had heard there was a Free Methodist church in their neighborhood.”

Young and other church members quickly encountered a challenge. The family didn’t speak English.

Then one of the family members recognized Adamson.

“He said in Swahili, ‘I know you. You’re Myra,’” Young said. “He
remembered her from about 20 years before when she came into a hospital where his wife worked.”

The family began inviting other African families who were now in Arizona. Within six months, the congregation was home to more than 100 African immigrants. Adamson experienced worship like she had in Africa.

“It was very exciting. It was very nice to hear — especially the songs they were singing. Songs sort of get to a person’s heart,” she said. “When they sang the songs again like I had known long ago, it really touched me. I really enjoy their singing.”

Adamson played a key role in helping the African families settle into life in the United States.

“I would translate for them in various roles like doctors’ offices. A couple of them got arrested for certain things, and I went to the court,” Adamson said.

Along with welcoming the Africans into worship, Adamson said, local Free Methodists have offered classes to teach them English.

“Recently, I was praying, and a couple from New York came and spent the winter at our church, and they had classes three times a week,” she said. “They’ve gone back to New York now, but it was a real godsend.”

The Glendale church has changed to Spanish language worship services. Adamson, Young, the African immigrants and many other former Glendale members now attend Deer Valley Church, a Free Methodist congregation in Phoenix. Deer Valley’s larger facilities allow an expansion of programs serving the African
immigrants.

Adamson’s ability to speak multiple languages has proved especially helpful as Deer Valley reaches local people with global origins.

“We just got a family in that only speaks French,” Young said. “Fortunately, Myra speaks French.”