Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14, 2009

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written much here. The people in Mali are still on my mind, but I haven't been getting many updates lately from all the missionaries. I still pray for them all often as I also do for the people of Mali.

The reason I'm writing tonight is to share a message I got from Overland Missions. I always thought I'd go on a missions trip to Africa with this missions organization. I got my opportunity to go to Mali, West Africa last October. It wasn't with Overland Missions as I had always thought it would be, but it was an amazing trip! My faith in God brought me through the fund raising and through the trip. This message from Overland Missions reminded me again of my faith in God and all that He has done in my life over the last couple years! He is a mighty God!!!

Element of Faith

In 2005, a young lady decided to step out in faith. She left with only one word from God in her heart, "take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic." (Matthew 10:10) By faith this adventurous woman went to the airport and bought a plane ticket. The Lord told her to go, so she went, not knowing exactly where the conference was in Nicaragua. She went by faith.

When she mentioned why she was going to Nicaragua at the ticketing counter, the agent gave a free upgrade to First Class where she dined on sushi and traveled in style. Still she knew, getting to Nicaragua was one thing, getting to the conference was another. But God is faithful, he would reward her for diligence and faith. Upon arrival at the airport in Nicaragua she began to pray asking the Lord, "How do I get to this conference? You've brought me this far, show yourself faithful."

After a few moments she glanced up and saw a familiar face. She looked up and saw a man she recognized from the Cocoa Beach Conference. Not knowing him personally, she went up to him tentatively and asked if he knew where the Conference was located at. On the way to the conference location, he told her that he happened to be picking up some bags at the airport.

"If you would've been 10 minutes later you would've missed me," He commented.

College student Kelly Roberts attended the 2005 conference with only her wallet, Bible and mascara, after more than two years of anticipating the event and praying for God's direction.

"In the end, I learned that I really can put my full trust in God," she said. "And, in fact, it's not until I really depend on Him that He gets the full glory."

In order to experience the fullness of God there is a certain element of faith that occurs. Faith is what empowers and compels us to go to unreached people. Faith is what fuels missions.

God bless you all and continue to pray for His work and workers in Mali!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April Update from Jessica Schaeffer

I wanted to share the following update from Jessica Schaeffer in Koutiala, Mali. It brings tears of joy to my eyes when I read updates like these! Praise God for the wonders and miracles He has done!!


1 Chron. 16:12 Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles…

Dear Friends,

On a recent Sunday afternoon, as I came home from a walk, I ran into my former language teacher Hawa. Her face was beaming as she told me about Fatoumata, her young relative who has been living with her for the past 9 months. Fatoumata came to Koutiala in hopes of having a live baby after delivering 2 stillborns in the village. She came faithfully for her prenatal visits at our hospital. Fatoumata comes from a Muslim family, and during her first several months here, she quietly kept her distance from Hawa’s family prayer time and weekly Bible study in the courtyard. But as the months went by, her heart began to soften to the love and kindness she was shown by Hawa’s family, friends, and workers at the hospital. She gave birth to a baby boy by c-section in late November, and stayed on in Koutiala for post-op checks and baby vaccinations. In the last few months, she started participating with the family in prayer times and going to church. She decided to give her life to Jesus one Sunday last month, praying with Hawa and the pastor. Although her husband wanted to name the baby Mohamed, she called the baby Moussa (Moses) after Hawa’s husband. She recently asked me for prayer as she is nervous about her return to the village, and how her family will react to her new found faith.

Amisatou is a Muslim woman from a village 4 hours away who has been married for 10 years and has been unable to have children. She and her husband heard about our hospital, so they decided to come for a consultation, hoping for answers and help. During her time in Koutiala, her hosts (my houseworker) took her to meet the pastor, who prayed for her. Her heart was touched as she heard him speak words of Jesus and hope; her husband had already left for the village, but she told her hosts on their next visit to Koutiala she wants her husband to go with her to meet with the pastor. After a few visits to the hospital, her husband asked if we could start a hospital near to their home. “You really care about people here”, he told us, a comment I hear frequently from people in town as they talk about our hospital. “You listen to people, you take them into account”. To a large extent, women here are seen as property, and they have few rights. God has given us a wonderful opportunity to love and value women and children at our hospital. We don’t have all the answers for Amisatou, and we might not be able to help her, but we know a God who is able.

A couple months ago, Bafo Coulibaly was brought to the hospital by her brother-in-law, Pastor Enoch, one of our chaplains. Bafo’s husband (Pastor Enoch’s older brother) wept when he was told that there was nothing we could do for her…she had an inoperable cervical mass. Bafo and her husband have been very resistant to their brother’s faith for many years. But that day, after her consultation, Bafo listened as one of our nurses talked to her about Jesus. Bafo went to stay at Pastor Enoch’s house with pain medicine we gave her to help relieve her discomfort. Dr. Dan Nesselroade told Enoch that only Jesus could heal Bafo, that the only thing left to do was to pray. So Pastor Enoch prayed, and he prayed for a miracle. God gave him two! Two weeks later, after years of resistance to Jesus, Bafo prayed to accept Christ. A month after her initial consultation, she returned to the hospital. As Dr. Dan examined her, he found only a small lesion where the mass had been! Bafo was smiling, saying that her pain and symptoms were gone. Dr. Dan discussed the possibility of doing a radical hysterectomy, but decided to wait 2 more weeks to see if God would complete the healing work He had already started. When Bafo arrived the day of her scheduled surgery, her exam showed that she had been completely healed and was no longer in need of surgery. I passed a smiling Bafo on my way to the hospital last week. Pray for her as she returns to the village, that God will continue His work in her life and in the life of her husband and the rest of their family, who Pastor Enoch has been praying for and witnessing to for years.

In less than 6 weeks I will fly back to the US for 1 year of home assignment. I am excited to see many of you. But I will miss my work here and the people I have grown to love. I marvel regularly at God’s miracles and wonders as He provides for the needs of the hospital and as He works in the lives of the people around me. I am so privileged to be part of His work here. Thank you for your part in His work here too, as you have sent me, loved, encouraged, supported, and prayed for me. Joyfully Living the Call Together,Jessica


1. Life for the next 6 weeks will be very full with hospital work, moving to another house (my things will be used this year by a pediatrician who arrives this summer), visits to friends in Koutiala and the village, etc. Pray that I will finish well and accomplish what God wants me to in these final weeks here before home assignment.

2. Praise God for recently providing a nurse, Jake Tillett, who will come for the next year to fill many of my roles in the hospital. He will arrive May 2, so the last 2 weeks before my departure (May 17) I will work with him as much as possible. Pray for Jake who is raising support and quickly making preparations to come before I leave.

3. Praise God for Fatoumata, Bafo, and others who have accepted Christ over the past few months. Pray for their spiritual growth, and pray for courage for Fatoumata and Bafo as they return to their villages.

4. God gave us 13 new nurses and nurses aids in February. They are moving along in their training (most of them), and helping us to keep up with our growing staffing needs as we hospitalize more children. Pray that God will continue to bring us Malian nurses as we prepare to open pediatrics.

5. I thank the Lord for my nearby family and a refreshing visit with them this past weekend. I had car troubles along the way, but fortunately did not get stuck in the middle of nowhere. My car is being repaired in Burkina, and my brother kindly let me use his vehicle to get back to Koutiala.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's Spring in Ohio

Well, we've reached spring here in Ohio. It's actually 63 degrees outside! I can't wait to get my garden started!! At the same time, they've been reporting temperatures between 100 and 110 many days in Koutiala, Mali.
I've been enjoying seeing pictures and stories from Mali. It's like every time I see a pic or read a story, it all comes back in memories of my short time there. My memories still remain very vivid in my mind. God is so good in allowing me to have these memories.
I've been getting a few prayer requests from Koutiala, and I also got some information at church this morning regarding another request for Mali. First of all, Daniel and Amy Hanscome are in their last week in Koutiala. Their time there has come to an end. They will be flying back to the USA where they will be finding jobs here for at least a few years while they wait to see where God will take them next. Pray that they are extremely blessed in this last week there. Also pray that their travel back to the USA is safe and that they will be able to rest during the long trip. As they arrive back in the USA, pray that they will find jobs quickly and that God will bless them greatly through all that they do.
Secondly, pray for Ewien and Anco. Their vehicle broke down this past week and it requires a new gear box that won't arrive in Koutiala for a couple weeks. This makes their ministries more difficult as they travel quite a bit. Pray that transportation will work out for them while they wait to get their car repaired and that their ministry will remain strong during this time.
The weekle Alliance Missions prayer sheet I pick up at church says that "Gordon and Cheryl Roedding request prayer concerning the potential property for Hope Center. Someone has begun building on the property that the Roeddings had been promised. Pray for church leaders as they deal with this problem. Pray that God will provide an even better piece of property in a more suitable location." The way I understood land use in Mali is that you have to build a wall around property to keep "squatters" from coming in and building on it. I assume this is what has happened with the promised property. Just pray that a property will become available for this center to be built on.

That's all I have for today. God bless you all!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th

Good morning everyone! I haven't posted in a little while, but I just got an update on the video project in Mali. Ewien is allowing me to share her post about the project with all of you! I'm so excited to hear the video project has started up...with the new camera!
It has been awhile since I wrote my old video camera died. Recently, a doctor from the States brought the new video camera, Sony PMW-EX1, as carry on to Mali. What a blessing this is!

The video camera is worth 'her' money (can't be a he if it is that good ;-)!

Yesterday (12 of March) we had our first filming day. Exciting and very challenging at the same time. New group, new video camera, new place(s)...

It is funny to find out while shooting which factors you cannot control. The day was cloudy (while Mali is almost always sunny ;-), windy, the crowd was loud and not willing to keep still (a one time experience for them too, a filming crew)...

Solution? Change places, be flexible and PATIENT, very patient. Not my best quality by the way.

The new video camera apparently was too heavy for the tripod, which I already kind of knew, but did not wanted to know. At the scene, it turned out to be a bigger disadvantage than I thought. What do you do? Yep, be flexible once again.

Working as a (new) team was great though. Nobody complained, everybody was thinking with me and we all waited it out. It took (of course) a lot longer than expected / programmed. But hey, it is all about being flexible ;-)

Today is the second (and hopefully) last day of filming. Everybody of the group said yesterday: tomorrow can only go better! That is where I go for!

I pray for less wind, less clouds, less public and more of the working spirit we had yesterday. And of course: a lot of fun!

If you feel a need to contribute to the video ministry here in Mali, you might want to consider donating equipment (heavier tripod, shoulder strap ?;-) or a gift to pay off the rest of the video camera.

Thanks for standing in this with me, blessings on you!

Ewien van Bergeijk - Kwant

p.s Pictures of the actual shooting will follow...

Along with praying for the video project, I'd also like to ask that you keep Daniel and Amy Hanscome in your prayers. This amazing couple has been doing English classes and helping out with the administrative work at the hospital, along with working with the missionary kids youth group. They will be heading back home to the USA in about 15 days. Pray that their last couple weeks in Mali will an amazing time serving the Lord and receiving His blessing on their lives!

God Bless you all as you go through the coming weekend!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Missions Festival 2009

The theme of our missions festival this year is "Lost People Matter to God!". There's a scripture that goes along with it: "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost! Luke 19:10". You can see the details of our missions festival at

This morning, the choir sang a song called "Prepare the Way". It hit me as I head them sing it for the second time that my trip to Mali last year was just one tiny little part of what is preparing the way for many Malian's to come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ! Every time a building is completed...and another started, we're (every one of us that has put some kind of work into the hospital complex) taking part in a MUCH bigger plan that God has for Koutiala and all of Mali.
I got thinking a little today about how God calls individuals into missions. Early in January, some difficult things happened at work, leading to me being promoted to the top IT position within the Court. So, my thoughts today were...If God called me into missions now, would I be willing to just give up everything I've worked so hard to accomplish in my career? As I think about that, I think that the answer has to be a resounding YES! See, God provided for every accomplishment that I've experienced in life. If He gave it all to me, shouldn't I be willing to give it all up to follow Him where he calls me to go? God has a plan and if that plan would mean that I would have to leave everything I know well to follow him, I'm pretty sure I'm ready.

The latest that I'm hearing from Mali is that the hospital has hired new nurses and that Terry Newman, Jessica Schaeffer, and Olive Gifford are working closely with these new nurses to train them. I'd pray at this time for those three ladies and other Malian ladies that are performing the training. I pray that God will allow them to communicate effectively to the new nurses to make them the best nurses they can be. I also pray that these new nurses will feel a call to stay at the hospital long term once the training is complete.
Secondly, The hospital is in need of a couple things that I'd like to continue to pray for. They are in need of an x-ray machine and a government license that would allow them to import medicines.
God bless you all this week!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mali Project Blog

Hello everyone. I just wanted to pass along another blog a team has put together to share their thoughts and pictures of their trip to Mali. They will be leaving February 20th. Keep them in your prayers and follow their blog if you can!!

God bless you all!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Good morning everyone! Last night, we had Group Link at church. This is an event that tries to match up people with small groups that meet outside of the church. For years I didn't feel like groups were for me, but I have come to really feed on the weekly fellowship we have with our small group and the prayer support we have every day from each individual in our group.
Anyway, we got talking about missions trips (seems to be a common topic of discussion now that I've been on a trip). It's really cool to hear stories about other's experiences. But, as we were talking, I again realized that my heart will always be with Mali, West Africa.
Yesterday, in church, they showed a video reviewing things that had happened in and through Shawnee Alliance Church in 2008. It was amazing to watch and I couldn't help but see my personal journey with Christ grow by leaps and bounds throughout 2008. Two of the major things that happened last year were my baptism and the trip to Mali. I think God's growing me and preparing me for something much larger than I could ever imagine. I don't know what it is or when it will be, but I'm ready to follow him wherever he takes me!
A couple weeks ago, I logged into Facebook and saw that Ewien and Anco's video camera died. They use this camera to put together videos that teach the Malian women about proper hygeine and other health related problems. They were beginning a new video project at the beginning of February and needed a camera. They had been saving back for a new camera, but still hadn't raised enough. God immediately made it apparent that this was where the remainder of my trip funds from last year should go. I talked with Ewien about it several times and ended up sending the money a couple days later. I got word last week that the camera arrived safely in Mali and that Ewien was excited to start using it. The last I heard, they were still about $1500 short of the total cost, but they're trusting that God is going to provide the rest...and from my fund raising experience last year, He can raise funds like that in no time at all! I was just glad that I was able to be a part of the video projects. And to all those that donated funds for my trip, you have also become a part of this video project.
I guess I'll end for now. I received the following prayer request from a team that's supposed to be heading out for Mali on February 20th. Please keep them all in your prayers that they will get back to health and/or stay healthy leading up to and throughout the trip.

Asking for your prayers for our trip to Mali leaving Feb 20 through Mar
12th. Two of us are in the process of being sick with colds/flu. One is
even considering dropping out, Earl. Please pray health and protection for
each of the nine of us.

Thanks everyone for following my blog. Also thanks for all your prayers that I know you are sending up for God's work in Mali!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter in Ohio...

It's been a while since I last posted anything here. I've had a lot on my mind over the past few months. There have been changes at work that weren't completely expected...or completely a surprise. Some of you know part of the story. Life's been a little hectic. Sarah had a touch of flu last week and I've been fighting a sinus bug for almost a week now. Sarah's better and I'm finally starting to feel better.
It's definitely winter in Ohio...the -15 temperature earlier this week reminded me again of the fun of winter in Ohio. It makes me think about Mali. See, Weather Underground says they are experiencing highs in the 80's and lows in the 50's. I think I could handle that kind of weather much better than the cold here in Ohio. But, I guess I have to wait to see where God's going to lead me in the future. With my promotion at work, I get the feeling God has more in store for me here in least for a while. I've learned a lot in the past couple months about remaining faithful and trusting God. You know, sometimes, God's timing for something takes way longer than we want it to. I think we often try to make changes in our lives, trying to move God's timing up so we don't have to wait any longer. I've once again learned that we really need to just sit back and let God's roller coaster take us where it will instead of trying to take things into our own hands.
Sunday, January 25th, I'm supposed to be speaking/presenting about our trip to Mali last October (assuming the weather stays good). I would ask that anyone reading would keep me in their prayers as I try to decide exactly what God would have me say and what stories to tell. I want God to get His message across to the people at the church I will be speaking at.
Honestly, the main thing that still touches me is how much Malians give up in order to follow Christ. I've shared about this before, I think. See, families in Mali are very close and care for one another at all times. When a Malian accepts and becomes a follower of Christ, their family pretty much disowns them. They are basically losing the family they know in order to be a part of the much larger family of Christ.
I continue to pray for the hospital, missionaries, and workers in Mali, along with all the Malians who have accepted Christ. I also pray that many more Malians will come to know the Lord. My other prayer right now is for those considering going to Mali this year as a team from our church. I pray that God will provide for all their needs and calm their fears as they prepare for the trip. God is doing an amazing work through the hospital and missionaries in Mali. I pray that this work will continue to grow and help more people.
God Bless you all!