I was saved at 12 years old at Bible Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the conclusion of a new year’s watch night service where we’d just watched a film and heard a message related to end times. Our family began attending Bible Baptist before I started kindergarten, but again, it wasn’t until 12 that I recognized the urgency of surrendering my life to Christ and trusting Him as my Savior.
From the first time I can remember hearing a missionary speak as a boy I believed I would someday be one. As I grew older, however, other interests and circumstances, including a family of my own, college, and a heavy work schedule became distractions and, what seemed like, meaningless years flew by until while at my job as an assistant plant manager at a growing mattress factory one day the thought came to mind: “What does what you’re doing mean?”
I didn’t tell anyone what I was thinking that day, but change began to happen until within a couple of years Tammy and I were at Baptist Bible College preparing to serve as missionaries to Jordan. Circumstances threw us a curve, however, resulting in our planting a church in Peru, Indiana instead of the Middle East. Tammy really didn’t have the same “itching” for the mission field that I did as we served in Indiana, but an unexpected transition and a powerful mission presentation of Burkina Faso turned my itching, and her lack of it, into a unified commitment to throw ourselves into church planting in Burkina.
We hadn’t a clue what we were doing, so tried to, as literally as we could, put into practice what we understood to be the responsibilities of missionaries both on deputation and in West Africa. We’re still a little overwhelmed by the results of both. People actually surrendered to ministry during deputation and people were saved and churches were established (4 of them) on the field. We know that none of those things happened exclusively by our effort, but we consider it a privilege to even have had a part with the many others we’ve seen the Lord use to achieve eternal good.
Since having to leave the field in 2010 in response to a medical issue, that has since been resolved, Tammy and I have served in multiple capacities, including my serving as a pastor in Findlay, Ohio, our serving as house parents at a Florida children’s home, and my serving as Administrative Pastor at Calvary Bible Baptist Church in Westerville, Ohio from where we’re now being sent to Burkina. We’ve left, and will be leaving, behind people we’ve loved deeply at each of those stops, but it has become absolutely clear to both Tammy and I that we were made for foreign missions.
We still feel like we know very little what we’re doing, but we know that having become missionaries has changed us as much as anyone we’ve served and we want to be changed, and be the instruments of change for others, we know God has designed us to be.
I made a profession of faith at age 18 when a friend came home from college and shared the gospel with me by means of a tract. It was just two years later that John and I were married and were going to church but not “involved” in church. After Brandon was born and because we realized our responsibility as parents, we recognized it was time to get serious about serving the Lord. Within a couple of years after getting our lives on track, we decided that it was time for us to leave Fort Wayne for Baptist Bible College. After graduation we moved to Peru Indiana to plant a church.
In 1993, during our ministry at Peru Baptist Temple, I made sure of my salvation after struggling with doubts about the profession that I had made when I was 18. I was not sure that I really had a grasp on who Christ was and what He did for me. I was not comfortable that my motive for making a profession was really repentance and trust in Christ. I was worried about what people would think about the pastor’s wife going forward, but I needed to make sure because where a person ends up in eternity is the only thing that will ultimately matter. So I went forward at church and trusted Christ. I have never doubted my salvation since!
In 1999, with our ministry in Peru completed, I had been praying for about a year as to where the Lord would lead us next. We both had been praying about missions and I had been praying that the Lord would burden both of our hearts for the same field and people. In October of 2001, the field of Burkina Faso was presented at our missions conference. We both immediately knew that this is where we needed to go. We were approved as missionaries in May of 2002 and had to resign as missionaries in February 2010 because of my husband’s health. He had surgery and his health issue was taken care of.
My husband and I continue to keep in touch with our Pastor’s and friends in Burkina Faso since leaving the field. We have continued to have a great love for the people and the work in Burkina Faso and have missed them dearly. The Lord has definitely kept Burkina Faso in our hearts and we have been praying about it ever since our church’s missions conference this past October. We are excited and anxious to go back and get right back into the work there. We love missions and how God’s Word changes lives!