Living our Dream (Janet Payne / Peter Payne)

Like you, we had many discussions about how we would serve the Kingdom.  I had an MA in Education, Peter a BA from Stanford in Philosophy.  We decided that since we both spoke Spanish (from previous summer missions) that we would look into grad school in Latin America somewhere.  Peter was on staff with InterVarsity, so we found ourselves at a staff breakfast table at Urbana ’76 with Americans serving IFES in Mexico City. Across the table was the Regional Secretary for Latin America and IFES staff from Argentina. As we talked with the Americans, the others said, “Why stop with Mexico?” and before breakfast was over, we had a plan for a trip to Peru with stops in between to check out the possibilities.

We ended up in Mexico City, going down with a 6-month old son.  Peter studied for an MA in Philosophy.  It was a good time, but it was not easy living in the city.  More significantly, we felt at the end of the time that it would be better for Peter to be with those who were secular, even hardened atheists, and he found he preferred analytical philosophy and thought.  That turned our thoughts and hearts to Europe.

We moved to Southern CA for a PhD program at Claremont Grad School, now with two boys, aged 2 and 4.  The PhD took a long time with teaching in between.  But when it was almost finished (we thought), Peter took another look at his goal of being a professor.  Instead, he decided to join InterVarsity Grad/Faculty Ministry staff so he could influence future generations of professors and professionals who would know how to integrate their faith with their profession, their heart with their mind.  That took us to the University of Michigan for 16 wonderful years.  It was really a time of harvest, a great place to be.  Peter kept up with philosophy and apologetics and gave talks in other schools while serving grad students and faculty at UM.

But we never went to Europe.  Until one day, when the boys were in college and my mom, who had moved to be near us, had passed away, we started to wonder if it was not finally time for us to begin a ministry in Europe. Peter wanted to continue traveling and speaking in the US, and was given permission to do so, but we contacted a friend who was then the IFES Regional Secretary for the Balkans.  He suggested we start with an IFES all-Europe student conference – one that happens only every three or four years. We were invited to attend, Peter was asked to give a seminar, we each led small groups, etc.  That was the year 2000 and the first of monthly trips to Europe almost every year since.  We follow invitations from student groups or general secretaries for outreach lectures, tough-question or Q/A evenings, workshops, or training for Christians, and occasionally lecturing in philosophy faculties.  I will let Peter finish this.     Janet

We are currently in Slovakia.  Over the next three days we will be giving lectures at universities in three cities.  The topics: “Why Does God Allow Suffering?,” “Science vs. Faith?,” and “The Qur’an and the Bible.”  Easter week this year is another of the conferences mentioned above, this one in Györ, Hungary (over 2,000 students).  I will be leading a seminar on “Who is God?” and Janet and I together with the IFES Gen Sec will be leading a 4-hr track on “Explaining the Gospel in Culturally Relevant Ways.”  It is a wonderful privilege to have such opportunities for service in God’s kingdom.     Peter

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