John the apostle is described in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved. “John Maleya, evangelist , stands out in our hearts as a disciple who loves Jesus. As John, Jane and their children Jayson and Jewel leave the Nairobi Christian Church to serve in the Zambia International Church of Christ, they leave behind a legacy of love and an indelible mark of exemplary leadership and selfless service.

They leave behind them disciples they’ve reached out to, ministries they’ve poured their hearts into and dear friends who they look up to.

In 1992, John left a potentially lucrative career in banking to join the full-time ministry, and in 1995 became the first locally converted disciple to be appointed an evangelist in the East Africa churches. Jane was appointed as a women’s ministry leader in 2001. After God joined them together in 2003 they continued to shepherd and shine, leading various ministries in Nairobi, spearheading the church in Eldoret, overseeing new congregations in Western Kenya, and returning to Nairobi in 2011 to oversee the East Africa churches.

Scripture instructs, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7). John and Jane’s leadership is impossible to forget. Their faith has sown seeds of growth across East Africa.

Victoria Auki, a women’s ministry leader, looks back at Jane’s service to the sisters in East Africa with much respect. “One of the highlights for me… is her love for the word of God,” she said. “Jane is very keen on sharing the Scriptures at whatever circumstance. She goes back to Scriptures and calls whoever she is helping or counseling back to the Scriptures.”

Timothy Machuka from Eldoret, one of many brothers who John personally reached out to and helped to become a disciple, reflected on “the countless moments [John] has walked with me through my tough times and encouraged me.” Timothy, who was a waiter at the time, recalled the moment he first met John. “Before I served him he introduced himself and asked for my name, gave me his business card and invited me to church. This is my highest moment because being a disciple has really changed my life.”

Just as the apostle Paul noted of the disciples in Philippi, “You have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence” (Philippians 2:12), the greatest gratitude that the East African churches can give the Maleyas is to hold firmly in their absence to whatever we have learned or received or heard from them, or seen in them— and put it into practice.

As John and Jane reflected on their time in East Africa, their greatest highlight is the endearing and enduring relationships. “Our best friends and soulmates are here—people who are willing to do anything for our family. Our children are best friends with the children of these friends.”

John said, “I feel like even if God was to take me now, my children and family would be taken care of because of the great family of God here.”

“I have seen God do great things,” Jane said, “and, considering how inadequate I felt when John and I were chosen to lead here, I believe that anyone can be used by God.”

Jane exhorts the sisters of East Africa, “Love one another deeply, for love comes from God. Support each other no matter who you are or what position you or others are in.” She shares 2 Corinthians 13:11, which reads, “Finally, brothers and sisters rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)

John said, “I cherish the grace and loyalty we were accorded by the awesome disciples of East Africa, all the moments we spent together, and the lessons learned. We thank the disciples for the opportunity they gave us to lead East Africa.”

Looking ahead, John said, “The God who has brought us this far will glorify himself in our lives and in the lives of those we are going to lead. Our prayer is to build great friendships in the Zambian family and not forget the ones here. We want to grow in our leadership, marriage, and parenting, given that we shall raise our teens in Zambia.”

And finally, he said, “Everyone, please clothe yourselves with great humility because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Always choose forgiveness and reconciliation, it’s the best recipe for unity and progress. Never give up. Keep up the good fight of the faith. ‘For we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed but of those who believe and are saved’ (Hebrews 10:39). The greatest is love. Embrace love and live it. Love covers over a multitude of sins. Love is the driving force.”

The Maleyas leave behind a lasting legacy, and as they relocate they will surely impact Lusaka with their love, lives, and leadership.

Photos by Caxton Kimeu