Forced 'out of Africa' by
illness, Hinelys are back
___By Tim Palmer
___Missouri Word & Way
___GABARONE, Botswana --A line from a movie haunted International Mission Board missionary Tommy Hinely after health problems forced him and his wife, Deborah, to
leave their beloved Kenya in 1996.
|WHEN MALARIA and other illnesses forced Tommy and Deborah Hinely (above) to leave their missionary assignment in Kenya in 1996, they feared they would never return to Africa. But they did, and now serve in Botswana.
___The movie was "Out of Africa." The line, which referred to author Karen Blixen, was: "She never returned to Africa."
___"It was like a sentence on us," Hinely recently recalled while sitting in his living room in Gabarone, Botswana. The Hinelys were given a providential pardon, and today they have found new life serving God in sub-Saharan Africa.
___The couple met when he was a journeyman missionary in Kenya in the mid-1980s.
___She was born in Seymour and went to school at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, but she grew up in Uganda as the daughter of career IMB missionaries.
___So when the couple went to Kenya in early 1994 as newly appointed missionaries, it felt like going home to her. After completing the first part of Swahili language school at Limuru, they moved to Malindi on the Indian Ocean to complete their studies.
___Then they got quite sick. Neither suspected malaria; they were taking a preventative drug. But both had malaria. A "questionable" doctor prescribed what they later were told was a potentially lethal combination of medicines. "We couldn't function for a month," Mrs. Hinely said.
___Eventually they recovered and moved down the coast to Kilifi, where Hinely thrived in
his assignment as an evangelist. Then the cycle of illness started again.
|BEN AND KELSEY HINELY jump on their trampoline at their home in Botswana.
___Malaria had weakened Mrs. Hinely's immune system, and she developed typhoid. This time a doctor advised them to leave the coast. If they didn't, he told them, "One of you will die very quickly."
___Even as the Hinelys were making plans to go on furlough, she came down with bronchitis, then a terrible ear infection. "I went home in a wheelchair. To myself, I was thinking, 'I'll never be a missionary again.'"
___When an IMB administrator confirmed that they could not return to East Africa, they grieved for Kenya "like a death."
___The Hinelys spent the last part of their furlough in Cisco. "It was there that I really started to heal emotionally and physically," she said.
___Then one day someone else at the IMB told them, "There's this place in Botswana that needs an urban evangelist."
___"The more we prayed, we couldn't get it out of our heads," she recalled.
___Her parents advised them, "Don't go unless it's from the Lord."
___God spoke through their son, Ben, who is now 11. "Ben said, 'You know, I really feel called to Botswana,'" Mrs. Hinely explained. "That really settled it in my heart."
___Now Mrs. Hinely thinks back to a prayer she had prayed during her recovery: "OK, God, you took away Kenya. Thank the Lord we're still in missions. Our prayer is that we'll be so happy, we won't be able to stand it."
___Now feeling at home in Gabarone with palm trees growing in the yard, she points to
another way her prayer was answered. Her children--Ben and his 8-year-old sister, Kelsey-- had been lonely. When the family moved into their house, "kids started literally climbing over the wall to come and play."
|THE HINELY CHILDREN help their mother set up Ben's new room made from a converted garage.
___So when Seagraves Baptist Church in Seagraves sent its vacation Bible school offering, the Hinelys bought a trampoline.
___"That attracted so many children," Mrs. Hinley said. "We call it the evangelistic tool."
___The Hinelys moved to Gabarone early this year after finishing Setswana language school in Lobatse, Botswana. Hinely described the work as slow, compared to Kenya. "Primarily I'm building relationships right now."
___But he's not complaining. "We feared we would never see Africa again," he said. "Now we're back."
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