We record with sadness the passing away of a former member of the teaching staff at Ingwenya, Miss Jane Mackay, who faithfully followed the Saviour for many years. She died last May at the age of 92 in her native island of Skye. When Miss MacKay arrived in Ingwenya in 1946 she took over the large Standard Six class. As the Rev James MacLeod, Convener of the Foreign Mission Committee said to the 1950 Synod: Miss Nicolson the Headmistress found in Miss Mackay “a harmonious, active and willing partner” in the arduous work. Her conscientious teaching over the years contributed to the success of the school. For example, Miss Nicolson reported to the 1957 Synod: “The Standard Six results for [Miss MacKay’s] class in particular were very good indeed, which must have been a cause of satisfaction to herself, as it certainly was to us”.
In 1960 Miss MacKay finally had to return to Scotland because of ill health. “It was with a sad heart that I left my colleagues, who were overworked as it was”, she wrote, “but to have struggled on longer would only have made matters worse.” The Foreign Mission Committee reported to the Synod their appreciation of “Miss MacKay’s painstaking and successful work”, and added: “Thanks are due to her not only from the Committee but also from the Church at large”. She now has that reward in the “excellent glory”, we believe, which awaits all who by grace “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”.
With regard to the present food shortage in Zimbabwe, the Foreign Mission Committee noted with thankfulness at its last meeting that our Mission stations in Zimbabwe have received enough food so far. Also, as a result of the good response to the Famine Relief Fund appeal, many needy people in our congregations there have been able to procure maize. The situation, however, is becoming even more difficult, and we pray that the divine Giver of every good gift will continue to provide for them.
In his report to the Committee, after his arrival in this country on furlough from Kenya, the Rev Keith Watkins confirmed that the numbers attending the services in Sengera continue at the same high level and that the people give close and reverent attention to the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
He also gave an absorbing account of the translation work in which he and his helpers are engaged, and showed copies of the latest revised and enlarged edition of a selection of metrical Psalms in Eki-gusii. More Psalms are being translated for another edition in due course. Some pieces of Christian literature are also being translated for the local people. These will be printed by Mission staff using a new heavy-duty printer. The new ambulance has arrived; so the existing ambulance will be used to replace the current well-worn pick-up.
It was a great concern to many that Mr Watkins became ill some weeks into his furlough. We can now report (in mid-October) that in the Lord’s kindness and, we believe, in answer to prayer, he has recovered considerably and continues to improve. He is yet to have further medical consultations, but hopes that, God willing, he and Mrs Watkins will be able to return to Kenya in November.
The possibility of resuming work among the Jews continues to be given prayerful consideration by the Committee. We do not forget that its full title is the Jewish and Foreign Mission Committee and, as was mentioned in the last issue, we believe that the Free Presbyterian Church was the last Scottish Church to employ a full-time missionary to the Jews.
Meantime we are to continue praying, as The Directory for the Public Worship of God (1645) states, “for the conversion of the Jews” and “the fulness of the Gentiles”. Samuel Rutherford said in a sermon, after describing the former privileges of the Jewish Church: “Let us pray our elder sister home to Christ”. That homecoming will be indeed as “life from the dead” (Rom 11:15).