Margaret Teaching at Kabanyi

Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

Background and Testimony

I grew up in a broken home, and my parent(s) moved around a lot! I changed schools 10 times in 10 years! I figured out once I probably moved 25 times in my first 21 years of life. Ugh! But somehow I survived it all.

I went to lots of different churches over the years. I had always believed in Jesus, but often wondered why I didn't have the feelings of love and joy that were described in the old hymns we would sing in church. When I was about 14, God spoke to me in my heart about surrendering my life to Him and serving Him. I somehow understood this was an issue not to be taken lightly, but after some time and thought, I replied to Him that I was not ready for that yet (not even really understanding this was God).

I married during high school and had 2 children before we moved from California to Washington in 1971. We had lived in Spokane about 7-8 months when once again, God spoke into my heart when I was in my bed one night, asking me if I would serve Him, giving my life 100%. This time I said, "Yes, Lord. I'm ready to serve you," and gave Him my life without reservation. Then I was full of joy. Recurrent dreams I'd suffered for several years of someone chasing me to kill me, and of the end of the world, disappeared, never to return. My fears of death were also gone from that point. I was 21 at the time.

From my earliest childhood I remember wanting to grow up and be a missionary -- even though I didn't really know what a missionary was or did. As I grew, that desire developed a bit more, and I knew I wanted to one day go overseas and work with poor people. Before I was saved, that translated into Peace Corps and similar ideas, but none of them panned out because I got married and had a family instead!

I got saved, but my husband didn't. He had no interest at all in the Gospel, and became hostile. Eventually he left me for another woman and filed for a divorce. So our marriage of nearly 9 years ended. My adult life, as a single parent of 3 young children, was very complicated. First I went back to school to finish high school, then I attended community college, eventually earning a Bachelor degree in nursing. However, during all these years, the call to work overseas would surface periodically. I would always say, "God, I'll go anywhere you want me to go, but..." But - I had these kids to raise. But - I didn't have enough education, money, etc. etc. And somehow I always felt guilty when I voiced these excuses, although I didn't feel they were excuses. They were facts that I didn't know how to get around.

Then, in 1984, a man heading for missionary work in India shared a dream God had given him. That dream touched me, and then he shared from Hebrews 12. Suddenly I knew I had to let all these things go which were weighing me down, hindering me from running the race that God had laid out before me. And at that point I told God I would go anywhere He wanted me to go... with or without education, with or without kids, with or without money, education, husband, whatever. And I then felt free!

In 1991, when I'd finished my Bachelors Degree, I knew I now had tools to be used in a poor country overseas. But instead of sending me overseas, God sent me to Everett, WA (from Spokane, where I'd lived for 21 yrs). For 8 years, I worked in Everett as a Community Health nurse. I worked a lot with refugees, getting valuable cross-cultural nursing experience.

In 1996, I was able to visit Israel, where I met a group of Kenyans. One of them prophesied that God would bring me to Africa, specifically to Kenya. Two years later I was able to visit Kenya on a 3 week short term mission, where I did work with a mobile medical clinic. I was offered a position directing a mobile medical clinic outreach to remote villages. I returned home, where I met with the New Life Center missions board, and received approval. I began preparations to raise funding, and went through the Foursquare channels to become an MTS (Mission Team Specialist) in Kenya. However, God had a different destination in mind for me.

Margaret with daughter Becky.
Margaret with daughter Becky.

As I went through the preparation process, I began to learn of certain problems in the Kenyan church, and that certain things had been falsely presented to me by the Kenyan church. In October 1998, Foursquare Missions International (FMI) and Greg Fisher, E. Africa missions director (Kampala, Uganda) related to me that it would not be good for me to go to Kenya. However, it was decided that if I would agree to come to Uganda instead, I could work in the village medical clinic 50 miles north of Kampala for 3 months, and adapt to African life while living near near the Fishers. After that, the Kenya situation would be reevaluated, and I might or might not be allowed to go to Kenya. I agreed to that, and in March 1999, after God provided all our expenses, my daughter Becky and I moved to Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world.

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