Throughout my life, I always felt that missions work was such a
neat and important calling, but I didn’t have a clear vision for how that would
play out until this year.
I grew up in Lima, Ohio, as the oldest of five kids.
|Craig family photo - 2000|
My first eye-opening missions trip was when I was fourteen and went to Mali and Burkina Faso, Africa, with a small group of people from my church and another church nearby.
|At an outdoor church service in Mali - 2002|
Then when I was seventeen, I went to China to visit a close friend whose family had become missionaries there, and I got to get another neat view of missions. Although I thought I might eventually become involved with doing something missions-related myself, I never had a clear feeling of a call to it nor did I have a certain place to which I felt called.
After graduating from Temple Christian High School, I attended Indiana Wesleyan University and earned my bachelor’s degree in English education.
|My college roommates at graduation - 2009|
When I graduated from college in 2009, I really wanted a teaching job, but I had no idea where I wanted to live or what kind of a school I wanted to teach in. This being the case, I moved back home temporarily—or so I thought. I put out applications at every school in the Lima area that I could, but no one had open positions that year. That first year out of college was what I, at first, thought of as a failed attempt to get into my ideal job, not to mention that I felt I might have permanently failed to find an ideal husband as well. You see, I had graduated from a Christian college where it's more or less understood that you’re supposed to find your soul mate, yet I remained single (yes, that thinking was silly; hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?). I ended up spending the year subbing at several local schools as well as working weekends at my former high school/college summer job—a coffee shop called The Meeting Place on Market.
During this year that didn’t turn out how I’d envisioned, God had better plans for that season of my life than I did. My “unideal” job situation turned out to be very ideal in that it allowed me to meet my future husband while working at The Meeting Place.
|The Meeting Place staff Christmas party - 2009|
A lighter work load also happened to allow me to have enough free time to spend getting to know this funny, deep, and a little bit unusual guy named Ben in a group of friends and later to date and realize that we shared common beliefs and goals in life. I remember one day before we were dating we were carpooling from work to meet up with friends and I immediately noticed that he had an Africa-shaped pendant hanging from his rearview mirror.
I asked him if he’d been there, and he said he hadn’t but he felt drawn to the continent; I was intrigued. As I got to know him better and found out about his experience with YWAM and his goal to use his automotive skills on the mission field at some point, I started to see missions work as an even more realistic possibility in our future together.
That next school year, I was thrilled to get the job I’d hoped for teaching English and reading for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade at Temple Christian. By that time, Ben and I had been dating for a while, and during the winter of that year, he proposed.
|One of our engagement pictures - 2011|
We got married in the summer of 2011, and I continued teaching while Ben worked toward completing his college degrees.
|Our wedding - 2011|
We discussed the possibility of it being the right timing for us to move after he graduated and tentatively planned on just moving south. When missions conference rolled around in February of 2013, the guest speaker Pete’s suggestion that we consider Burkina Faso changed our plans around quite a bit! We went to visit Burkina in August and decided to apply for the internship after our exciting experience there.
Now is the time in my life that I feel the need to grow with Jesus in a new way, serve Him in a different setting, and see His name blessed through what I'm doing with my day-to-day life.
To be honest with you, I love to travel, but moving to Africa for a year, learning a new language, and raising support for living expenses are all things that are very much out of my comfort zone. I'm inadequate for this internship through my own skills, but I'm willing to be used by God, and I hope to see His Spirit in me enabling me to touch lives in Burkina Faso.
|Collins Family Photo - 1999|
I grew up in Chesterland, Ohio, as a pastor’s son and the oldest of four children. My first missions-related experience was when I was a young teenager and helped my dad at a Habitat for Humanity homebuilding. In high school, I went on a few mission trips with my church. Two of the trips stayed in the US, and one went to Mexico. These small trips developed in me a desire and calling to serve in missions later in life.
|Chesterland Baptist Church Outreach Team - 2006|
Soon after graduating from high school, I moved down to Texas to attend two Youth With A Mission (YWAM) missionary training schools. The motto of YWAM is to “Know God and make Him known,” and the schools I went to each focused on one of these two things: to know and make known. The schools consisted of three months of classroom training followed by two months of outreach.
|My first night of worship at YWAM - 2007|
The first school that I attended was the Discipleship Training School (DTS). This school focused on strengthening my understanding and relationship with God (Know God). This school helped to bring me to a deeper understanding of the character and nature of God. Having time to focus on Him helped to strengthen my relationship with the Lord and give me a strong foundation for the future. My outreach for this school went to Chicago and spent a month in South Korea.
|Feeding an elderly woman at a nursing home in Asan, South Korea - 2008|
My second school was the School of Evangelism (SOE). This school focused on how to minister to other people (and make Him known). The experience gave me the tools that I would need in order to find effective ways of sharing the gospel with others. It also allowed me to figure out what kinds of ministries are my strengths. Outreach for this school went to Missouri for flood relief, Chicago, and Germany.
|Doing yardwork for a ministry that helps drug addicts, alcoholics, and Bible training school in Germany - 2008|
After I finished with the YWAM training, I decided to attend The University of Northwestern Ohio for an associate’s in automotive technologies and a bachelor’s in business administration. I wanted to further my skills mechanically in order to one day put that knowledge to use on the mission field, but I also wanted a degree that would be useful before and after serving as a missionary.
|Having fun in the Meeting Place kitchen - 2009|
One of my jobs during college was at a local coffee shop called The Meeting Place. A group of us from The Meeting Place started hanging out and having a Bible study together. Molly was one person who really caught my eye from this group, as she had an interest in traveling as well as a strong and clear faith.
|Meeting Place group hanging out and bowling - 2009|
After months of hanging out in groups, I finally asked her out. As we got to know one another, we found that our goals and aspirations were very similar. We were married in July of 2011, and it has been the best thing to ever happen to me.
|Engagement Photo - 2011|
Africa has always been on my heart. In high school, I was involved with a group called the Invisible Children. Invisible Children worked to free and rehabilitate child soldiers in Uganda. This organization first showed me some of the needs in Africa and a part of God's heart for the continent.
It is not easy to make such a large change in life. We are both interested in what God will do in and through us during our time in Africa. While we only plan on doing a year’s commitment, we are open to what more God would have for our lives. I know that God will provide for His calling. It will not be easy trying to emerge in a new culture with a different language. Only with God will this be successful, and through the prayers of our supporters His will for our time in Burkina will be done.
|Hanging out with kids in a poorer district in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso - 2013|