Finding herself, along with her young family, in prickly refugee work in the western part of Ivory Coast, Kim’s resolve to care for the needs of traumatized Liberians almost broke her from the inside out. Anger, bitterness, and depression settled into her heart like a blanket of toxic fumes. After a year, the entire missionary team was asked to take a brief refocusing trip to the states. The break only emboldened Kim’s acquired feelings about the African people and she felt she could not return without being irreparably crushed by the insatiable demands.
Her weakened perspective threw up a roadblock, creating a problem since they were supported by almost three dozen churches in America. What if the churches did not understand what that one year of hellish relief work had done to her? Missionaries are often put on pedestals and expected to act and react much differently than other people would do in the same situations. Unrealistic expectations of others haunted the Abernethys as they came to the painful impasse of a ministry in limbo. Kim simply could not return to ministry in Ivory Coast. What were they to do?
God had other plans. A two-year interim ministry in Jamaica was on the docket. Exactly on time, the Abernethys relieved resident missionaries on the island, who desperately needed to return to the states for medical reasons. A ministry of healing, growing, and encouragement sums up the years in Jamaica. God’s resources and plans were never wasted, never late, never insufficient. His masterful engineering of events and timing was never more evident than in their Jamaican ministry. So much learning. So much growing.
Finally ready to return to West African ministry after a three year interval, the Abernethys moved to yet another town in western Ivory Coast. Still mainly ministering to Liberian refugees, the following years saw fruit beyond anything the Abernethys could have imagined, though a multitude of challenges, circumstances, and conflicts surfaced to distract them. The Deceiver is always looking for ways to diminish the workings of God.
The last five years covered in In Every Place sees Kim stretched beyond her human capacity. Choosing to pursue a third term of ministry in Ivory Coast, the family first headed to Canada for a year of intense French language training. After that frigid adventure, they began preparations to move to Bouake, Ivory Coast, to start an English church and teach Bible school classes. But before that could even happen, the death of her only brother, and the rebellion of two of her teenage daughters dulled Kim’s resolve to go anywhere God called, no matter the circumstances. On the verge of resignation from ministry altogether, Kim and her husband Jeff had to come to grips with what it meant to hold on to Jesus, walking by faith, not by feeling or sight. God’s faithfulness to Kim and her family during this tumultuous time was simply breathtaking, even in the wake of another eventful evacuation and transition.