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Samantha comes from the fishing village of Kilkeel, Co. Down, and belongs to the local Church of Ireland. She was brought up in a Christian home and gave her life to Christ at an early age. But it wasn’t until she was a teenager that she really started to understand the commitment behind such a decision. In her fifth year at school she felt God challenge her to stop trying to live on both ‘sides of the fence’. So she decided that from that point, she would live ‘sold out’ for God.
“That really changed my life,” she recalls. “I was excited, not ashamed about Christianity.”
After school Samantha went to university to study Mathematics and Computing. Again, God was faithful to her and she made many Christian friends. At the end of her course Samantha had to decide what to do next. She felt God leading her to take a year out. During a missions event at the Christian Union she picked up a leaflet about Mission Africa. After thinking and praying about it she felt God directing her to Nigeria with Mission Africa.
Samantha first arrived in Nigeria in 2008, and admits she was apprehensive: “I was a little bit frightened and wondered what I was doing so far from home, away from my friends and family. But again God proved faithful in my life and I settled in.”
She began working with the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS), helping to promote healthy, God centred lifestyle choices among children and teenagers. Samantha mostly worked with the HIV/ AIDS department and was attached to two schools, teaching important life skills to students. She later decided to extend her time in Africa, so that she could take part in an FCS programme called Holiday School.
When her time had finished Samantha returned to Northern Ireland. But she felt God calling her back to Nigeria, so she applied to Mission Africa for long term service. Before leaving, Samantha had a lot of time to pray and seek God’s plan for her life. She was reassured by the verse, “…and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you” (Jeremiah 29:14).
Samantha has been working since 2010 as an Evaluation and Monitoring officer in the AIDS and Family Life Development Department at FCS in Jos, Nigeria. She is involved in compiling reports and administration, and is in charge of research projects on the impact of FCS’s training on teenagers and on the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. She also helps to facilitate training programmes on HIV/AIDS and teaches students skills for daily living.