Our minds weren’t set, but they were open. In many different areas of our lives, we felt an increasing tug of our hearts toward Africa.
Henry Blackaby wrote in Experiencing God Day-By-Day, “Our Master commands us to ‘go.’ We need permission to stay!” Was God asking us to go long-term? Short-term? We needed help answering that question.
Ken and I both wanted to explore opportunities to serve The Wesleyan Church in Africa through their international ministry, Global Partners.
Early on August 6th, two months after our original conversation, we participated in a Skype call with Bob Bagley, the Global Partners Area Director for Africa, to learn more about the areas of need in Africa, and how we might be able to fill those needs.
Immediately, I was impressed with how clearly and compassionately Bob understood our unique family dynamics, and the gifts that we bring. In order for Africa to be a good fit for our family, we would need:
- A place where Ken would have easy access to internet and transportation, so that he could help with the French-speaking churches of Africa, and with business management.
- A place where the kids could attend international school. Boarding school wouldn’t be a good option for our family, and homeschooling might limit our ability to build relationships, especially for our kids, who have already had to make new friends many times over in their short lives.
- A place where I would be able to find needs and be able to fill those in the medical field. Physician assistants are not able to practice medicine in all countries, so I cannot just move anywhere and use my skills in medicine.
In advance of our conversation that day, Bob had already thought through all of these complex issues for our family, and suggested the country of Ghana.
Ghana is an English-speaking country that has many international schools that could be excellent options for our kids. Though Ghana is a Christian country, the northern part of Ghana and its northern neighbor Burkina Faso are predominantly Muslim — and this is where the church is rapidly growing! There are many churches being planted in northern Ghana and in Burkina Faso whose pastors need mentoring, training, and encouragement.
Overall, Ghana also has a tremendous need for medical providers, with a ratio of one medical provider for every 10,000 people. In southern Ghana, there is even a clinic run by The Wesleyan Church. In northern Ghana there are fewer medical resources and the ratio is one physician for every 93,000 — the needs are critical.
At the close of our conversation, Bob recommended two things: that we consider taking a vision trip to Ghana and Burkina Faso to see for ourselves what God is doing in Africa, and to begin to fill out our applications to become long-term missionaries.
As for the trip that we spoke of with Bob in August, we are leaving for that very vision trip this Friday, October 24th. Ken will be preaching and meeting with several of the new pastors in the area to encourage them, and I will be seeking opportunities for creating sustainable health practices in Ghana using networks of the local church to address medical needs. We are excited to see what God is doing in West Africa, and to explore how God might use our family in this part of His kingdom!
Things are just about to get very interesting.