Briefly share your salvation experience and your call to ministry.
I was born into a Christian home to very godly parents. At the age of 5 I realized my need for the Savior and asked Christ to forgive me of my sins and be my Savior. At age 9 I recognized that I belonged completely to God and that He had a plan for my life. I gave my life to Him for His purposes. Then at age 11 I knew God had called me into missions. He used several factors, His Word being the main factor and in particular verses such as Is. 6:8 and Ro. 12:1,2. At this point I answered yes to His call in my life to serve as a missionary to Africa. The only specific was that He called me to be willing to serve somewhere in Africa. I had His peace about that as I surrendered to Him and have had His peace about it ever since.
What did you do before you were a missionary?
After high school, I attended Piedmont Bible College (now Piedmont Baptist College) in Winston-Salem, NC. From there I taught 3rdgrade in the Christian school at my home church in Hartsville, SC for 1 year. I also worked through the years in the church office as well as doing bookkeeping for my grandfather’s furniture business.
Tell us about your current ministry. Where are you and what are you doing?
I am currently working in Mali, Africa. I’ve been working as a missionary to Mali since 1985, arriving in Mali in 1989 and working in church planting as a church planting assistant. Since the end of 1995 I have been working at Buckle Bible Institute (IBB – Institut Biblique de la Boucle) in Gao, Mali. Specifically, I’m a professor in our regular program at the Bible institute along with being the director and professor of the women’s program and working as school administrator and other positions at the school. Apart from the school, I work through our local church in Gao being involved in the women’s and children’s ministries, visitation for evangelism and discipleship and leadership training. God has also given me the privilege of modular teaching in other areas of Mali outside of Gao for ladies’ groups working through the local churches. I’m currently in the States on an early furlough due to the unrest in Mali and am praying that the Lord will make a way for me to return in mid-September, for now to Bamako if not to the north of Mali. We’re praying and trusting to be able to start our school year at IBB in October.
How long have you been serving as a missionary?
I was accepted by EBM to serve in Mali in 1985.
What does a typical day look like for you while you are on the field?
It’s very hard to say since a typical day has so many unscheduled happenings. But here’s a fairly decent idea of what goes on during my day this past year: Most days I’m up by 5am due to sleeping outdoors and daybreak. Sundays – I head out for church about 8am. Services begin at 8h30 and I’m usually home again around 11h30. During that time I pick up and take home lots of passengers as well as direct the children’s classes. Afternoons are for visiting and studying for the week. Mon – Fri – At school by 7am. We have classes and I either teach or am preparing/doing admin work/etc, from 7am to noon. I leave for home about 12h30 and prepare lunch and take our rest time. Most Malians take a rest in the early afternoon due to the extreme heat. I also use that time to do more studying and prep work for my classes. At about 2h30 I head back to school for classes from 3 to 6. If it’s still light after classes I usually either – visit, stay at school and work on studies or admin work, etc. I do, because of the culture, try to get home just before dark. Then I visit with my ‘African family’, care for other visitors who’ve dropped by for medicines or other needs, care for extra things that come up (most people know I’m home for the evening at this point), ending up with studying and prep for classes again until around 10 or 11 pm. Somewhere along the way I prepare supper for myself and the teen girl who was living with me. I try to be in bed by midnight if I can. Saturdays are taken up with housework, more studies, marketing, church ladies’ group Bible study (teaching), visiting and doing activities with our church ladies and getting ready for Sunday.
As you reflect on the years you have spent as a missionary, please share with us some of the highlights of your ministry.
I think most of the highlights have been when I was blessed to be a part of seeing someone come to know Christ as Lord and Savior and then watching and trying to help that person grow into a mature child of God. In a Muslim area it doesn’t happen as often as it seems to in some other areas. But it’s so special to be a part of it when it does. A sort of icing on the cake for me is being able to teach God’s Word to women and see how it touches their lives or to see them applying it to their lives. I just am overwhelmed at times to see how much I’ve been blessed to care for, evangelize and teach in Mali. One highlight for me is being in the classroom whether it’s at IBB or one on one and then to see how God takes His Word and makes it grow in someone’s heart.
What have been some of the biggest challenges that you have faced on the field?
Briefly: Loneliness and isolation, political unrest (5 evacuations over the years), being away from family, relationships with other missionaries, learning new languages.
What person(s) has had the biggest influence on your life?
My parents, a missionary couple my home church supported when I was growing up, my childhood pastor
What would you say to encourage others (young or old) to consider full-time missions as a profession?
Whether you’re ready to consider missions as a profession or not, first of all make sure you’re living according to Ro. 12:1,2. If we’re truly the living sacrifice, then we should be open to consider whatever God may ask of us. Dying to self and living for Christ doesn’t always sound comforting to our ears. It can conjure up fears; mostly fear of the unknown. Rather than look at the unknown, look at what you do know of God. He loves you more than anyone can. He only wants what’s best for you (even if it sometimes is hard). He’s promised to never leave you. He will not ask of you something that’s too hard for you and Him to do together, enabling you to do what He asks you to do. Learn to enjoy the blessing of His presence, trust Him and let Him be your comfort zone. He. 13:5, Mt. 28:18-20.
Please share some specific prayer requests with us.
· First of all please pray for the political situation and unrest in Mali. Pray for our brothers and sisters living as refugees now that God would continue to heal their hearts and give them comfort and wisdom at this time, not to mention patience with each other.
· Pray for friends left behind in the Islamists’ controlled north of Mali. Many are hurting, hungry, have been violated in different ways, etc. For now there seems no one is on the horizon to come and help or whatever help may come may be a long time in coming.
· Pray for the ones who’ve found the literature from our churches scattered across the towns. Who knows but that in this way the rebels have done a part in spreading the gospel. Pray for the salvation of those there who have already heard the gospel and for a means to let others hear.
· Pray for IBB (the Bible institute), for the needs there to get things in order to finish the school year, for financial needs, for our regular donors and the need for more regular support.
· Pray for wisdom for those of us waiting to see when we’ll be able to get back to Mali or what may be next on God’s calendar for us. For those on furlough now like me, pray that God opens the right doors for churches and uses us to be a blessing and an encouragement to the people He leads us to along the way.
· Pray for personal financial needs to be met.
· Praise and prayer for my father’s health. He’s made tremendous improvement and is walking again with a cane, doing more for himself, eating and gaining strength. He’s supposed to start a new medication which is a chemo medication but there are some huge obstacles in the financial end to get around first. Pray that this treatment will be able to be done and will also go well. Also think of my mother who is in good health but very tired from being a caregiver.
What are some current needs that you have and what can we do to help meet those needs?
The needs we have now are for caring for the refugees. You’re already helping greatly with this through managing the Refugee Fund. Otherwise, your prayers are what God will use to help meet other needs. Thank you so much for your openness and willingness to help. You’ve taken a lot on by inviting us to join you and you don’t know how much your help, encouragement, love and kindness have been a blessing to me. God has already been using you to meet my needs in these many ways. Thank you!
Meet Some of Our Other FBM Missionaries:
- Kathy Miller
- Tim & Janice Phillips (part 1)
- Tim & Janice Phillips (part 2)
- Ken & Sarah Beckley
- Cindy Faile