Each year since I can remember, our church—Shawnee Alliance—has hosted a missions festival where several missionaries from around the world come to share their passion with us here in Lima, Ohio. I always loved hearing about the adventures that these missionaries lived out and felt moved when they shared about the work God was doing through them; I always loved singing the special songs that the worship band played during missions week—ones about going out to the world to share the Gospel; I always thought I might one day like to go be a part of that, too.
This past February, missions festival came and went just as it would with any other year for me with one exception: it led directly to this opportunity for Ben and me to begin our own journey into short-term missions.
You see, it actually started twelve years ago when my dad and I went with a small group of people on a two-week mission trip to the African countries of Mali and Burkina Faso. While there, we met a missionary named Pete. Well, during this year’s missions conference, Pete was one of the two missionary guest speakers at our church. The first day before he was scheduled to speak, he spent time with my dad because of that prior connection. My dad, knowing that Ben and I were interested in getting involved with missions at some point, mentioned this to Pete, who immediately informed him of the need for skills like ours with the Envision team in Burkina Faso.
Since this was all occurring in the chaos of Ben nearing the end of college and me grading more students’ papers each night than I had time for, we weren’t planning on attending many events of this year’s missions conference. However, after talking to Pete, my dad called me up and urged us to go to church that night so Pete could share with us about opportunities in Burkina. Halfheartedly, we agreed. We enjoyed taking part in the hog roast meal and hearing the stories that Pete shared, but it was afterward that Pete excitedly shared with us how well he thought we would fit with the Envision group in Burkina. When we left that night, I was considering it, but not seriously. Ben, though, was ready to jump on the next plane.
From there, we took one of Pete’s suggestions and started looking into doing a short trip to Burkina Faso so we could meet the missionaries there and get a better feel for what it would be like if we were to do an internship. In August of this year, we went over to Burkina and spent eight days with the Envision team. While there, the missionaries showed us around the capital city of Ouagadougou, a city of over two million people. We saw the overall poverty you might expect as well as some areas of wealth that you might not expect. They showed us how to grocery shop and let us see the house where we’ll be staying. They also showed us the many ministries that the Christian and Missionary Alliance has started, everything from churches to schools to student centers.
What impressed me the most about what Envision does is that they equip the local believers to do ministry, as opposed to some that would go in and run the ministry for the locals. As a result of this, there were sites where short-term US teams had gone in and built new facilities that were needed and the missionaries made sure to help get things started, but after the local Christians were able to keep the ministry running on their own, the missionaries basically left that project and went on to the next area of need. And these ministries seemed to be thriving! It was so neat to see how much of an impact both the short-term and longer-term groups had made in that city.
So, why Burkina? I don’t think there’s a straightforward answer to that. Mostly we’re going because we feel it’s the next step in our lives that God’s directing us to take. Additionally, we’re going because of the connections our church has over there, because this is the time in our lives when we were already planning to move and Burkina is where we feel led to go right now, and because we are wanting to be part of something bigger than we can do on our own.
As many of you I’m sure can relate, it’s kind of scary to step out into something completely new. Some days, I think I’m not ready for this. Yet if God’s plan for us is something more than we think we can handle, why argue that our ideas for our lives are better than His? If God is directing you, He will handle the details; I have to keep reminding myself of this, as I would also urge others to keep this in mind. All of us must, at times, make the choice to do hard things that God is calling us to.
Ben and I are ready to see God use us, hopefully in more ways that we think possible. We heartily thank you for considering partnership with us in this ministry! We couldn’t even start to consider doing this without all of you!
-Molly (& Ben)