What would you do if you heard God’s voice say, “Go to Africa.” Would you brush it off? Chalk it up to the pizza you ate last night? Or, would you step out in faith and investigate?
Lynn Kaziah Gissing heard God’s voice say just that, and was faced with this very choice. The story of Lynn's humble beginnings, this call of God, and the impact of her decision are told in the book, A Light in Africa.
At 55-years of age, Lynn was headed toward retirement, and figured the biggest decision she would have to make was where in the English countryside she should purchase a home. After a vacation to Portugal where she had some out-of-the-box experiences that stretched her faith, she came back to England to settle into retirement life. As Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” For Lynn, the Lord had determined that her steps were to go to East Africa, and she obeyed.
Lynn left the United Kingdom in 2000 for Tanzania in East Africa. With plodding and caution, she rented a property and took in two children who suffered from the HIV/AIDS virus. From this small beginning, Light in Africa (LIA) a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) was born. Fourteen years later, the organization’s mission has expanded to providing care for sick, abandoned, and disabled children with dignity and love. The organization also provides a food kitchen and medical outreaches within the Kilimanjaro and Manyara Regions of Tanzania.
Lynn, her staff, and a network of volunteers maintain nine homes that house over 200 children ranging in age from infant to 18 years old. The children receive a quality education, the older children receive vocational training, and most important, all the children receive nurturing love and acceptance.
It has been estimated that more than 350,000 children and adults have been impacted by the work of LIA through food outreaches, which feeds hundreds of vulnerable malnourished children every week, and through medical outreaches to rural villages.
Known to all as "Mama Lynn", she works tirelessly to provide for each child placed in her care. This tireless spirit permeates Lynn’s chronicling of the work of LIA. At 240 pages, the book is a very easy read, not only because of the digestible chapter "chunks"—which are stories in and of themselves—but because of Lynn's distinct and direct voice. Each story highlights the miraculous hand of God that allowed Lynn to continue to fulfill God’s call on her life so that the work of LIA could flourish and grow, or the story features a lesson learned that grew Lynn in her own faith, and her understanding of God’s divine guidance and instruction.
One of the incredible stories within the book is about the boys who, along with Lynn, grace the book’s cover.
A woman with three children who was very sick with the HIV/AIDS virus requested help from LIA. A room with a mattress, stove, and food was supplied to the woman, and she attended to caring for her children; but soon the woman was too sick to do even that; so Mama Lynn took the entire family into LIA.
“So the Mama and the three boys came to live with me in my home,” Lynn said. “And I took care of her and her needs. And unbelievably, after she died, unbeknownst to me, she'd asked one of our staff who works with me, Mama Coupa, if she could write a will. After the funeral, I was called to the lawyer's office to be told that I had been left these three boys.
“The amazing thing about this is, we are talking about a peasant woman, with no education at all; and yet, she was so determined that her family were not to have these boys, that she made a will.”
Each story is laid out in plain language which serves to crystallize the power within each tale. The book is well conceived, and each telling flows individually, as well as connects corporately with the entirety of the book’s message.
The compelling and persuasive nature of Lynn's journey draws you in, and as you turn each page, you walk with her as she grows in faith along with the amazing growth of the organization. You get a front row seat in seeing LIA’s vision unfold, and how God has used this mission to transform and save countless lives in Tanzania.
“The reason why I wrote the book is that if I can reach people, and if they can believe that there is a God, then I will be happy that the book has been written,” Lynn explained. The book has been on Amazon.com only a few months, and is already having a tremendous impact on a new audience that otherwise might not have known about Lynn’s life, or the breadth of LIA's work, had it not been written.