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Keeping up with the Allisons — and mysterious goat meat

Fielden and Janet Allison stand next to their truck, bearing the name of their marriage ministry, in Benoni, South Africa. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

We just posted my feature on Fielden and Janet Allison, longtime missionaries in Africa who tour the continent with their Africa Institute of Marriage & Family ministry. Here’s a snippet, in which the Allisons discuss the genesis of the ministry:

The Allisons have lived in Africa for 38 years, helping Christians train leaders and plant congregations. They raised five children on African soil. Two now serve as missionaries in Mozambique and Cambodia.
In 1984, while working among the Kipsigis of western Kenya, four young men approached the Allisons for help. They wanted to marry Christian girls who had not undergone female circumcision, a painful ritual practiced by the tribe’s animists.
The young men’s parents claimed the Christian girls would not get pregnant — and not bear sons. Bibles in hand, the Allisons counseled and prayed with the young men.
“Interestingly, all four girls got pregnant the first year” of their marriages, Fielden Allison said, “and all four of them had sons.” A few of the young men’s parents converted to Christianity.

I spent nearly five hours with the Allisons between African Christian College in Swaziland and the home of Chris Burke in Benoni, South Africa (mentioned in a previous blog post). Their marriage ministry is unlike anything you’ll find among Churches of Christ in Africa, I’m guessing. The feature made a nice addition to our ongoing Global South series.
One funny note about the trip: I recorded about 45 minutes of my conversation with the Allisons in the truck. Lynda Sheehan, one of our administrative assistants here at The Christian Chronicle, transcribed the interview before I wrote the story. Lynda did a great job — and didn’t miss a single detail.
Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

Erik: Now, remind me how you got hooked up with African Christian College here. How did that come about?
Fielden: We have known Ira Hill for 30 … how many years? Early 70s, actually. Probably 35 years now we’ve known Ira and June. They’ve supported our ministry for all those years. And when he got hooked with ACC …
Janet: Well, even further. The church where he was an elder was our overseeing congregation for many years.
Erik: Oh really?
Janet: Yeah.
Fielden: Are you ready for some goat meat? May get some here. Anyway, when he became chairman of the board, they were looking for qualified people to come and teach. …

I honestly have no recollection of eating goat meat on that trip.

Chris and Casey Allison stand with two Cambodian Christians just after the Cambodians’ baptisms in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in March 2010. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

I met the Allisons’ son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Casey Allison, earlier this year on an entirely different continent. I was reporting on Churches of Christ in Southeast Asia — also for the Global South series — and caught up with the younger Allisons in Cambodia.  You can catch a glimpse of Chris, Casey and their kids in the opening shot of this video about the work in the Phnom Penh area:

  • Feedback
    Well, I’ve been priviledged to know Janet and Fielden Allison. My former marriage was greatly enriched by attending two of their seminars with my late wife and reading their book together at home.
    I have also hosted them twice so they can help me share their knowledge with the young upcoming leaders in the Lord’s Churches here in Uganda.
    May God continue to bless the Allisons in their efforts to develop the Lord’s Church begining from the family.
    Grace Nyanga
    October, 28 2010

    We have known and loved the Allisons since about 1968. We were close in Kenya and actually substituted for them on Mt. Elgon for one year. You can bet what they are teaching is solid, biblical and communicated very well to the peoples of Africa.
    Lawrence Barr
    October, 28 2010

    Actually i’ve known the Allisons even before i got married.
    What they teach is an encouragement to the African Christian marriage.
    You see the African marriage is at the crossroads. It is neither modern nor traditional. what the Allisons teach is indeed christian and is good for those who takes their marriage seriously.
    Go on the Allisons but also delegate to some africans who will take over the mantle from you later.
    How can one get your book 1+1=1 here in kenya now that you are not with us all the time?
    joseph sigilai
    October, 29 2010

    The Allisons…. great to interact with you again in this way. May God graciously extent the work you are doing down south. Your blessings in Kenya keep many going.
    Leonard Chumo Falex
    April, 2 2011

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