Jade started feeling dizzy on the morning of November 24th, 2020, after we came home from our morning workout at the gym. She also complained of having an unusual weakness on her left side. After calling a couple of doctors, her condition worsened, and we went to the emergency here in Mwanza. An MRI revealed a large blood clot in the right frontal lobe of her brain—an ischemic stroke. She was airlifted to Nairobi as soon as it was possible, to a facility better equipped to handle her medical situation, where she underwent brain surgery to alleviate the pressure from swelling. During her recovery two days later, she suffered a second stroke—this time at the base of her brain. She could not recover from this second cataclysmic event and on Monday, November 30th, our lovely Jade, mama to our three boys and my best friend and partner in life and ministry, went home to be with Jesus.
Jade loved Jesus. She served Him lovingly for her entire life and impacted so many people in her short life. So many of you prayed. Thousands of people all over the world prayed. So many exercised so much faith and encouraged me and our entire family, both through the first week of chaos, and following her death as we continue to grieve. Thank you. Our family is so grateful for the prayers, the love, the support and outpouring of empathy, as well as the generosity so many of you demonstrated, sending money to the emergency relief fund through the PAOC and through Willowdale PC, the church Blake and Christine, Jade’s parents pastor. God has graciously met our emergency travel, health and funeral expenses, mostly through the kindness of our partners and friends. We will always be grateful for the love of Jesus, expressed through countless messages on social media and by phone. Thank you.
In the first newsletter since October, I am going to try to update you on what is next for the Kenyamanyara family, Village of Hope—Mwanza and Petra City Church, our newly launched church plant in our city.
Vacation in October
Our entire family was able to take a short vacation in October. We went to Zanzibar, large island off the coast of mainland Tanzania. It was a highlight for us and a place we had wanted to visit for along time. It was so great to make the memories there with our three boys, and to them so fresh in our minds right before Jade’s passing.
Petra City Church
Petra City Church and our core leadership team will spend the next few months developing various ministries and leaders, as well as becoming more efficient and better on ministering in our teams, before our ‘hard launch’ scheduled to happen in the fall of 2021. We are so grateful to God that Covid-19 has had a much less devastating impact here in Mwanza, hence we can meet, worship and reach out to our city undeterred.
On Sunday, January 10, we resumed our worship services, this time gathering in a chapel given to us for free by the Mwanza Christian College campus, which is just next door to where we live. We did renovations on the building and our fledgling congregation began inviting friends. By our third Sunday, attendance hit 44 people and our new chapel was half full, even though we are still in our ‘soft-launch stage’.
We thank God that we finally resumed worshipping together at Petra Church, on January 3rd, when we met for a short ‘Meet & Greet’ in our house in Mwanza. One of our members led a devotional session, after which I addressed the congregation on the plans for Petra Church, regarding its future and we prayed together as a church family. This was so special.
For the whole of December 2020, the church services were postponed, as we inevitably attended to her medical and funeral arrangements. Our family travelled from Nairobi to Kisii, Kenya (my hometown) where Jade was buried, in a specially prepared plot on my family’s ancestral land, on December 15th. She was laid to rest in Kenya, East Africa, where we first met, lived and raised our family. This is where Jade had dedicated her whole life, to serving in the ministry into which God called us —she now rests in a region to which she fully gave her heart. My ancestral hometown is only a six-hour drive from where we live and serve in Mwanza. So the boys and I will always be able to have a place to remember Jade by since we can visit her grave more frequently.
She was going to preach about what it means to be a worshiper, but she, unfortunately, fell ill on Tuesday, November 24th. Jade was so excited about the vision and future of Petra City Church. How I wish so much that she would have had that chance to preach to our new congregation.
With each passing week, those attending became more excited about a church with a unique English service and the mostly young Tanzanian adults began inviting their friends. By November 22nd, we had over 30 in attendance! Jade was scheduled to preach on Sunday, November 30th.
Jade was very enthusiastic and particular about us beginning it in November 2020. Since all the plans were in place, she did not see any point of us waiting until the New Year. On November 1st, Petra City Church began in our home, with about 20 people. Jade led the worship team and began a children’s program for the first four Sundays, while I preached.
For the past two years, we have been planning the planting of a new, urban church. Jade and I spent the last two years, strategically building our administrative and support team at village of Hope. Our leaders there have been doing well and were able to carry on with the VOH ministry while I was away. In January, I began to work regularly, although reducing my pace and total hours, as I continue to lead our VOH team. People are very understanding as we continue to grieve and to heal. Of course, Jade left big shoes to fill, and we have to hire more administrative help and adjust our operations accordingly. God is helping us, but there is always need for friends and partners to continue to pray for us and support us financially, as we continue to lead in God’s call here in Mwanza.
Jade might have left us, but I am determined to continue with the work, which she and I began here in Tanzania nearly nine years ago. However, I remain alive to the fact that I can only be able to fulfil God’s great plans here through your continued prayers, financial support and generosity.
Remembering Jade on her Birthday
Planted fruit trees and having cake.
Please continue to pray with us!
- God’s strength and healing for Me and the boys
- Ezra, Gabriel and Josiah as they adjust to life without Mom
- VOH leadership, new teachers
- God to supply our personal budget for 2021
- Our family will have to travel to Canada some time before June, as COVID-19 restrictions lessen at least two to three churches to financially partner with us for the next two years)
- Petra City Church Leadership, training and ministries to meet needs and reach out to many people in Mwanza, especially the millennial generation.
In conclusion, let me sincerely thank everyone who has reached out to me and our boys; to those in our PAOC family that helped with the funeral expenses, care, accommodation and funds, through the most difficult, and most devastating time in our lives, God bless you.
Thank you to those of you, our partners, who sent money to the Special Emergency Funds, online at PAOC and, also, online at Willowdale PC – the church in which Jade’s parents’ minister. Your kindness touched us deeply and demonstrated the love of God’s family when we needed it most. Thank you so much for believing in our ministry and our call here in Mwanza, at VOH and Petra City Church.
Jade might have left us, but I am determined to continue with the work, which she and I began here in Tanzania nearly nine years ago. However, I remain alive to the fact that I can only be able to fulfil God’s great plans here through your continued prayers, financial support and generosity. Thank you for praying for our family and for supporting God’s work here, through us. God Bless you all.
- Julius Kenyamanyara