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Letters Home from the Congo; Margaret '41 and Chester '38 Jump


Margaret (Savidge) Jump '41 and The Reverend Chester Jump '38 met at Albright College 70 years ago. Sixty-nine years of marriage, four children and 17 years as missionaries in the Congo later, they reflect on their adventurous life from the quiet of their apartment at RiverWoods Senior Living Community in Lewisburg, Pa.

As a young child, Margaret knew that she wanted to be a missionary. After marrying Chester in 1942, she went on to earn a master's degree in psychology from West Chester University. Chester, or Chet, received a master of arts degree from Columbia University and a master of divinity from Union Theological Seminary. Later, he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University).

In 1945, Margaret's childhood dream came true. The couple was on a "slow boat to Africa" where they would serve three terms as missionaries in the Congo over a period of 17 years.

It was a successful and rewarding ministry and Chet recalls that the churches grew from 6,000 to more than 32,000 members in the region they served. Margaret, involved primarily in literacy and educational work, saw the district schools attain an attendance of more than 20,000 students and the founding of a station secondary school.

While in the Congo, they sent many letters to family and friends that their son, Robert, has published in a book called Dear Folks - Letters Home from Congo. The book covers the period of 1945-62 and chronicles the many interesting adventures they shared during their service in little known places like Banza, Manteke, Vanga and Leopoldville in the Congo, as well as Paris and Belgium.

The Jump's missionary work was through the American Baptist International Ministries (ABIM), which was organized in 1814 and is the oldest Baptist Mission agency in North America. When their service in the Congo ended, the Jumps had a myriad of feelings. Margaret wrote in one of her newsletters, "It is with mixed emotions that we write…the closing chapter of our life in the Congo. It is hard to leave this country…. We will miss our friends and the work here, but we also look forward eagerly to new experiences in the United States."

Chet had been called back to the States to serve as secretary for Europe and Africa for the ABIM and went on to become executive director of the organization for 18 years until his retirement at the age of 65. Coming out of retirement for a bit, he then spent five years as the director of American Baptist World Relief and one year as interim executive director of the denomination.

Margaret, while rearing her own children, became involved for several years in tutoring pregnant high school girls so they could keep up with their classes and graduate. She also dedicated time as deputy director and clinical supervisor for the Poly-Drug Abuse Treatment program in the Coatesville, Pa., area.

Of their life in the Congo, Margaret said, "We hope many will enjoy reading the letters and learning more about Africa and the life of missionaries. We feel that God called us to share our faith and work with part of His creation in Central Africa."

–LeeAnn Yucha, Albright Care Services
(a longer version of this profile originally appeared in RiverWoods News 2010)

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