Dan and Melody Anderson have served as missionaries in Uganda, in East Africa, since 1995. Dan is mission coordinator for Uganda and works closely with the district superintendents regarding church growth and development, and reaching into not-yet-reached areas of Uganda. Melody works to see the extension education program move forward to meet the demands of the growing number of Nazarenes wanting training for leadership and ministry for both clergy and lay members.
They also coordinate Work & Witness Teams, Youth in Mission Teams, Mission Corps volunteers, as well as Nazarene Compassionate Ministry efforts such as water catchment projects and income-generating projects that improve the lives of families in the areas where they work.
They have two grown children: Becky, 32, and Dan, Jr., 29.
Their first missionary assignment was to help open the work in Kenya. They arrived in January, 1986, with their four-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
Engage: How did you first recognize God’s call to be involved in missions?
Dan: “God must have something special in mind for you.” was the answer my mom gave to me after she was released from the hospital, when as a 9 year old I asked her, “Why didn’t I even get a scratch?” This question was prompted after our family was involved in a drunk-driving accident on the way to Sunday School in which the lives of my older brother and younger sister were taken, as well as serious injuries to my other brother and sister and my Mom and Dad.
Melody: I am told that as a little girl growing up in the Church of the Nazarene, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I readily answered “A missionary ballerina!” My first pastor, Rev. Dan Penn, was a missionary kid. He shared stories of growing up in Swaziland that captured my attention. Whenever a visiting missionary challenged us to be willing to go, I always said that I would go if that was what God wanted for me to do.
Engage: What is your favorite aspect of what you do in your present assignment?
Dan: Seeing the growth of Christian maturity in Ugandan Nazarenes at the district and local church levels, whether it be listening to one of our pastors preaching, or seeing a person living out their spiritual life in their business, or one of our youth putting the building of God’s kingdom before the building of their earthly life.
Engage: What are some of the challenges that you face in carrying out your work?
Andersons: The lack of Christian educational materials in the 41 languages used in Uganda is something that we are up against as we encourage the people of Uganda to expand their knowledge in order to develop their spiritual lives and as we teach the course of study to those called to the ministry.
Engage: Please share a story of a significant event or moment that has happened in your current assignment.
Andersons: After receiving a request from a lame man from one of our churches, we decided to fund a small income-generating project for him to make and repair shoes. He then paid the short-term loan back in a record time of six months. Then, after six more months he wrote “a letter of thanks” to us for the assistance and the trust he had received. He said that it affected him so much that he decided to do the same thing and offered another lame cobbler the same opportunity from his own funds that he had received.
Engage: How do you maintain a close relationship with God and your family in the midst of the demands of missionary service?
Dan: Everyday, whether at home or driving the roads of Uganda, I look for God, whether in His Word, or in what He is doing, or in what He has done in His Creation and this keeps me close to Him. Every morning we share a devotional together to start our day. I also receives a weekly, as well as daily devotional, via email that directs my thinking.
Engage: What are the rewards of what you do?
Melody: Watching the next generation of leaders rises up. This is on multiple levels. In Africa, seeing the families we know raise their children to love God and love the church, and seeing these young people involved in different ministries and leadership in their local church and on district levels.
Having the opportunity to host Nazarene Youth in Mission teams who come to serve in Uganda and watching God direct their lives into paths of cross cultural ministries.
Sharing ministry with a Mission Corps young couple who came to minister in Uganda. They taught discipleship principles to pastors and leaders of youth. We watched God bless them in miraculous ways because of their obedience and sacrifices to invest in Uganda.
Engage: What are some aspects of the culture where you live that you have come to love or embrace?
Andersons: Africans are very relational and hospitable. Relationships are the most important and this is shown by giving respect to one another. All members of the community are important. There is no hurry in Africa. Do not to take things for granted. Be grateful. Share. Corporate worship is not rushed, and is generously enhanced with clapping and dancing unto the Lord. We must drink
sweet hot milk tea!
Engage: What do you like to do for fun?
Dan: I enjoy working, one on one, with people, to help expand their business and income opportunities with income-generating projects. With a banking background, I enjoy teaching accounting principles as well as challenging believers to honor God with the first 1/10th tithe, and trust Him and see how He will bless and increase and multiply the work of their hands, whatever that may be: carpentry, cobbler, tailoring, farming, fish pond, tree planting, animal rearing, bee keeping, shop keeper.
Melody: I enjoy a safari! That means taking my binoculars and identification guidebooks and going out to explore God’s creation, especially the wildlife, birds and flowers of East Africa.
Engage: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Dan: As I finished seminary, the bank where I worked offered me the position of vice president, which I quickly turned down, because God had called me to be a missionary. My banking background has helped in many ways in our missionary work.
Melody: I am definitely directionally challenged!
Engage: What advice would you have for others exploring a possible call to missions, or embarking on their first missionary assignment?
Andersons: Wherever you are right now, break through any cultural, age or racial barriers. Love people. Love people who are different than you. Practice friendship evangelism and build credibility and trust, in order to share eternal spiritual things.
Get all of the formal education and practical experience you can in your field(s) of expertise now. As you enter another country, you will most likely need to prove that you are worthy of a work permit, that you are qualified in your field, and that you will be an asset in helping to teach and equip others.
Listen to God. When we seek His will for our lives, He is faithful to lead and guide us. In our case, when we were first married and as we were asking God for His will and direction in our lives, He showed us with neon lights that He wanted us in missions! The “Mission Inn,” in Mission, Kansas was our not-to-miss answer! This has been an anchor in our lives.
Keep a humble attitude, and realize that through Christ, you can do all things. Do not get comfortable in your own strengths. Rely on His strength and His wisdom.
When you are weak, then in Him you are strong. God reminded Melody of that when we had first arrived in East Africa as missionaries. She felt overwhelmed with the thought of ministering in Africa. In the first days, right in the neighborhood where we were staying, God reassured her with a choir singing in English “God will take care of you, through every day.” This was a loud and clearly heard reassurance and another anchor in our lives.
It is so important to have a clear call of God, and to be 100 percent consecrated to His call. Without this we have seen people shrinking back when the difficult challenges come in life and especially in missions.
Engage: Other comments?
Andersons: Often times it is not in words but in actions, that we have the greatest impact for Christ. We reflect Christ. His joy and peace is visible in us. How we react, respond, embrace the culture, and love the people will have a lasting and life-changing effect. People know when we truly love them. They know our life is different, and we can share why!