Emily Dwyer

Emily Dwyer

Emily Dwyer, affectionately referred to as Aunty Dwyer by the children, is our Messianic Jewish missionary who tends the orphanage and runs the mission on the frontline.

A Childhood Dream

Ever since childhood, Dwyer aspired to be a missionary to Africa. Her vision first came at a summer camp at the young age of 10. Several missionaries from Africa told her and the other campers of their experiences and what they did. Inspired by these missionaries, young Emily answered their call to dedicate her life to God’s will and devoted herself to Yeshua. Next, she went to camp directed by father, a Jewish Christian. Once again she felt compelled to give her life to God. This time, however, her commitment was in the arms of her father.  As Dwyer and her sister declared their dedication to become missionaries, her father wrapped his arms around them and gave them his blessing, affirming their vow to God.

A Radical Decision

Dwyer’s passion for the mission proved itself to be more than a childhood whim. The desire remained with her all through her life. In the year 2000, Dwyer, now a homeowner and experienced mother, felt that her time had come. Her children had left home, and the house was empty. She decided to sell house and head to Sudan. This came as no surprise to her kids. Her father once again blessed her path and affirmed her departure. When talking with a friend about making that first step to becoming a missionary, Dwyer said “It’s not hard, sell your house, quite your job, and go!” She makes it sound easy. Selling your home without guaranteed housing and leaving your job, not to mention losing health coverage, is not a simple step. “You know you’re in God’s hands and he becomes your security,” Dwyer said. Before leaving for Africa, Dwyer met a Messianic couple who served as missionaries. She became interested in their beliefs and seeing how God worked in their lives. Not long after, she requested to join a missionary on a trip to Sudan, her dream. God had other plans.

Work in Sudan

Once in Sudan, Dwyer worked as a nurse in a mobile clinic. After the first week, however, she visited the administrator’s office and learned that her services were no longer needed. Stranded in Sudan with no future prospects, Dwyer prayed, and prayed, and prayed. As God would have it, this turned out to be all part of his plan for her. She met with another missionary and visited Uganda. 

Teacher in Uganda

While staying at the Finish mission compound in Kampala, she met a house girl from the mission and asked to go to church with her. At the church, she connected with the pastor and his wife. They offered her a position at a small school they ran out of the church which provided education to children from the slums. The new teaching position allowed Dwyer to put her degree in elementary education to use. She taught a small class of 7th graders, spending about as much time teaching as she did tending their infected wounds.

After several months, the pastor took her on a tour of her student’s home. The slums.  After two hours of touring the slums, the open, overflowing sewers, and crowded, unsanitary conditions, she couldn’t bear it any longer. Reflecting on this experience, Dwyer said “When you step out into God’s will, he protects and watches you very carefully.” She credits God with getting her out of the slums alive.

During her stay at the church and school, Dwyer kept telling the pastor that she could only stay for a year. After that year ran out, she planned to go out to the villages. This was slightly unusual, since most missionaries choose to stay in Kampala where they have access to medical care, electricity, and other conveniences.


Emily Dwyer went out to the less fortunate, visiting Tororo, a home village of a pastor she knew. “The minute I visited Tororo I fell in love with it” Dwyer said. The beautiful countryside, majestic Tororo Rock, and the peace and quiet compared to the clamor of Kampala all beckoned to her heart.

Dwyer’s first and perhaps most important step in establishing herself in Tororo followed a fundamental Jewish principle. To have a home. She proceeded to buy land, a daunting task in Uganda. Using the remaining funds from selling her home, she bought a choice piece of land, right at the base of Tororo rock. There is a saying in Africa concerning real-estate purchase: “Be careful, you can buy air.” This warning sums up Dwyer’s struggle to secure her land. For two years she struggled through getting a work permit to stay in the countryto getting a land permit to legally own her lot, not to mention existing as a Mozungo (white person), which itself is a struggle in Uganda. After many delays, price raises, and other obstacles, she legally acquired the land. Next, she worked with a contractor and built a typical African home. Although it may be considered rustic by American standards, it is a simple, comfortable home for Dwyer and her boys. Emily has now served at the mission for many years and raised a family of orphans. Even when she’s spending time on fulough, her heart remains back at her cozy African home with her boys, in the shadow of Tororo rock.


The Board of Directors
Erik Bjoraker
Located in Hudson, WI, Bjoraker is the director of ACTS for Messiah. He has visited Tororo once, and attends Beth Immanuel Messianic Synagogue. He works full time at HealthPartners and has a wife and three young children. 
Sylvia Hanke
Hanke has been the Treasurer for ACTS for Messiah for six to seven years. She attends Beth Immanuel in Hudson, WI and has four grown children and many grandchildren. Hanke joined the board after hearing a presentation by Emily Dywer. She works from home full time for United Health Care as a claims processor. 
Cedric Stripling
Stripling is from St. Paul and has sat on the ACTS Board of Directors for two to three years. He attends Beth Immanuel in Hudson, WI. and joined the board after one of Emily's presentations there. Stripling is a retired teacher of instrumental music in St. Paul Public Schools. He also serves on the Executive Board of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and the Governing Board of Education Minnesota. 
Monika Ewell 
St. Paul local and native of Germany, Ewell joined the ACTS board in 2014. She attends Beth Immanuel in Hudson, WI. and has always admired Emily Dywer's courage. A long time supporter of the organization, Ewell helps in the decision making processes and discussions. Outside of ACTS, she works with medical records. 
Carol Ivance
Frank Wandzel