At 127 Worldwide, we’re celebrating ten years of connecting and equipping the global body of Christ to restore hope to orphans, widows, and vulnerable communities. As God uses his global church to accomplish his mission, we’ve gotten to play a part by fostering fruitful collaboration between our advocates and our partners that is mutually-edifying and that empowers all of us to participate in the work God is doing.
Jordyne Carmack, Associate Professor at University of the Cumberlands and 127 advocate since 2012, has a powerful story about working alongside Peter Abungu from Swahiba Networks across the last nine years. Their friendship has resulted in spiritual growth for Jordyne, enhanced ministry for Peter, and a partnership that has served other 127 advocates, Swahiba’s staff, and the vulnerable who live in the slums of Kibera.
Jordyne’s story starts as a friendship that developed with Advocate Relations Coordinator Amanda Walton. Jordyne had considered international missions work as a high schooler, but that path had seemed closed to her when she chose to pursue marketing and communications. In her words, “My story in terms of ministry was filled with lots of ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not qualified to’ because what I did feel qualified to do didn’t seem to have a place in ministry.”
One night while working late into the evening at the University of the Cumberlands admissions office, she saw tangibly how her skills could intersect with the work of the global church. Amanda needed some consultation on the content of a video that featured the 127 partners. Jordyne says that while watching, “I began to get a glimmer in that moment that my gifting, while not directly able to change the life of a widow or an orphan across the ocean, could be helpful in telling their stories. So I’ve basically been doing that for the last nine years.”
Since that night in 2012, Jordyne has advocated for 127 Worldwide, supported the work of our partners, and led teams of college students to learn from and encourage our partner ministries. Her first GO Team to visit partner Rose Bugusu in rural Kenya was an eye-opening experience for Jordyne that countered much of what she’d experienced in short-term missions. She explains, “My previous exposure to ministry had been predominantly geared toward and dominated by the visitors. And so my mindset when I arrived at Tumaini was ‘I’m here to do good work. I’m here to feel like I’m making a difference. I’m bringing in my systems that are going to work for them.’” Instead, what she quickly discovered was a model of ministry that prized mutual-edification between believers and resulted in shared transformation into the image of Christ as members of the global church walked together in his mission. Jordyne recognized the value of local leadership like she never had before and left Kenya encouraged that God is working through his global church and that she could play her part by actively supporting the leaders he’s already raised up to care for the vulnerable.
Perhaps the strongest evidence for 127’s unique approach to international ministry by partnering with local leaders is the relationship that developed over the years between Jordyne and 127 partner Peter Abungu. She calls Peter a mentor in her life, someone whose ministry has profoundly shaped her own. In Peter, Jordyne has observed a leader who invests in short-term teams as eagerly and intentionally as he disciples his own staff, and his example shapes the way she leads teams and serves the students who come through her classroom.
This mutually-beneficial relationship has been cemented by trips over the ocean for both Peter and Jordyne. Peter has traveled to Kentucky to speak with Jordyne’s college students, and she’s brought teams of students to Swahiba to learn from Peter’s ministry. On one visit to Nairobi, she and a student met with Peter and his Communications Director to evaluate the marketing for Tabasamu, a ministry that provides shoes for vulnerable children, and to advise how to craft the design and content to appeal to western donors. After years of believing her gifts did not apply in international ministry, Jordyne found herself using her talents to serve Swahiba’s ministry at Peter’s request and bringing along a younger believer to whom she modeled using her gifts for the good of the global church.
Jordyne sums up the impact being part of 127 Worldwide has made for her by saying, “If I had not gone to Kenya to work with Peter and Chris and the Swahiba staff, I never would’ve learned how to disciple well. While doing ministry alongside them, I watched discipleship happen at multiple tiers of ministry. I saw it happen within the leadership in the areas of accountability and encouragement… I saw discipleship happening between organizations… [and] between believers in similar stages even though they were of different ethnicities… Without those examples, my understanding of discipleship would be severely limited and probably would’ve taken a lot longer for me to learn because though I had been the recipient of discipleship, what I saw was a relational, intentional discipleship strategy that didn’t originate with a strategy, it originated with the gospel. And that has been a model for my whole life.”