Billy & Linda Abwa
Despite coming from very different cultures, Linda and Billy were brought up in similarly strong and active Christian families, and both began to follow Jesus in their childhood. Their Christian upbringing also shaped their view on life – the idea of helping others in need wasn’t unusual to them.
Billy’s childhood was spent in a typical African community in Jos, Nigeria, where he witnessed the reality of material and spiritual need daily. It deeply affected him, and transformed his vision for the future, making him eager to study development and help Nigerian society change.
Linda didn’t have the same first hand experience of poverty in Northern Ireland, but became acutely aware of the suffering in Africa, through TV coverage of the Ethiopian famine in the early 1980s. She developed a desire to make a difference in communities which lacked the very basics.
After giving their lives to God, both Billy and Linda found that this desire to ease the suffering of others only grew stronger. They also wanted to bring the hope of Christ to those who seemed beyond hope.
With her desire to serve God in Africa in mind, Linda studied nursing at university. After spending three months in the Gambia on placement, she was in no doubt that God would call her back permanently to West Africa. She later went on to complete a Midwifery course.
Billy, meanwhile, was studying Zoology at the university in Jos. After graduation he turned down several career opportunities, still convinced of his calling to make a difference. God eventually opened up the way for him to serve as he had hoped – in 2002 he was accepted to work with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) AIDS education ministry, travelling to churches throughout Nigeria teaching on HIV prevention and the church’s role in caring for those affected.
That same year Linda felt that her midwifery experience was adequate to consider working outside the UK, so she began looking for opportunities with mission organizations. The chance to work with Mission Africa at the Spring of Life HIV/AIDS counselling and care centre in Jos, was where God was pointing.
Billy and Linda met shortly afterwards. They were married in a ceremony in Northern Ireland in 2006, before returning to Nigeria. They have two children, Nathaniel and Niah.
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