Don and Evie Gardner are missionaries serving in Kenya, where Don is the field strategy coordinator for 11 countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, and three creative access countries. In his role, Don helps lead the national church in church planting, compassionate ministries, and growth and development. Evie serves as the field events coordinator, Work & Witness coordinator, and organizes and guides various ministries and Bible studies.
Prior to this assignment, they were missionaries in Malawi from 1990-2001.
They have three married daughters: Allissa, 29, is married to Jakin; Erin, 32, is married to Justin and they have two children: Brentley and Blythe; Amy, 35, is married to Matt and they have three children: Kahly, Lyndsey and Micah.
Engage: How did you first recognize God’s call to be involved in missions?
Don: I was on a Work & Witness team when I sensed God’s direction for me to be in missions.
Engage: What is your favorite aspect of what you do in your present assignment?
Don: Teaching, training, mentoring leaders. Watching them grow in their leadership skills, but it’s more fun watching them grow in their spiritual walk.
Engage: What are some of the challenges that you face in carrying out your work?
Don: There are never enough resources, although God does supply. With cuts in allocations, we have to find other means of funding to get the work done.
Engage: How do you maintain a close relationship with God (and your family, if applicable) in the midst of the demands of missionary service?
Don: Daily personal devotions – attempting to write a devotional every day. Also, Evie and I try to do devotions every morning together.
Engage: What are the rewards of what you do?
Don: Seeing someone accept Christ is always rewarding. To see that same person also become sanctified is another higher reward. Then, to see that person answer the call to ministry and to become an effective minister is the pinnacle of reward.
Engage: What are some aspects of the culture where you live that you have come to love or embrace?
Don: The greatest thing I have learned from African culture is the importance of relationship.
Engage: What do you like to do for fun?
Don: Read, write, hand-crafting, occasional golf, game safaris
Engage: What advice would you have for others exploring a possible call to missions, or embarking on their first missionary assignment?
Don: If you are not SURE you are called, don’t do it. The CALL is sometimes the only thing one can hang onto.