One of the ways that Vision Baptist Missions helps to equip and encourage our missionaries is through Regional Conferences. These Regional Conferences take place every two years in each of the four overseas regions (Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America).
This past week, the VBM Africa Regional Conference took place in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), South Africa with VBM missionaries flying in for the week. Veteran missionaries taught several sessions. The whole team was able to spent time fellowshipping together and enjoying some fun. It was also a great blessing to see and participate in the ministry in South Africa.
Below is a short update from Mark Coffey, the VBM Africa Field Director about the week:
After more than 9 years since the day we landed in South Africa, we are reminded of how quickly time goes by and how much older we are becoming. When I stepped off that plane being 37 years old, I already felt like I was getting a late start on the work that lay ahead. At times now, I can feel a pit in my stomach when I think about how little time we have left to accomplish the work that God has called us to do in getting the Gospel to our city, to our country, to our world. There is a weight on me as we consider Africa and the many places and people that still don’t have a Bible-preaching church.
Our South Africa team tries to act like we’re still young like we are right out of Bible college but the grey hairs in my teammates’ beards are a sure sign we aren’t fooling anyone.
Although we see our days passing by, this past week was a time that invigorated the work we know we are called to do. We are getting older but God is raising up an army of young men to join the ranks of reaching this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our Generation. Young missionary families from West Africa invaded our city of Gqeberha, South Africa this past week for the Vision Baptist Missions Africa Regional Conference. There is no doubt that this group of men and women are young in age, especially compared to us old guys, but they are definitely not young in their walk with the Lord.
Graham & Olivia Young just landed in Nigeria a few weeks ago and the devil has already taken aim to knock them out of the fight before they even get started, but this precious couple is aware of Satan’s attacks and is ready for battle. They have a maturity beyond their years that is inspiring to be around.
Nate & Emily Wilkerson are eager for the next stage of their ministry, preparing to enter a new battleground for our mission board in Benin where so far we haven’t been able to locate other like-minded missionaries. The zeal and mindset of this couple are an anomaly for people their age, really for people of any age. I can’t wait to see the Gospel spread through them to this new land.
Dallas & Ashley Brown arrived from plowing a very difficult ground in their first years as missionaries in Burkina Faso. This dear family who is yielded to the Lord as few as I’ve ever seen gives me hope that we can see the Gospel taken to every creature. The Brown family is a family that influences everyone around them and even challenges us old guys like we should be challenging them.
The days ahead for VBM Africa are bright and exciting. I’m privileged to work with this amazing group of people. Please pray as we go forward with the Gospel. We are reenergized for the work ahead. May the Lord be magnified and glorified in all we do.
In this article, we interview Michael Turner, who recently returned home from a six-month internship in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Michael was completing the internship as part of his requirements to graduate from the Our Generation Training Center. He was working with missionaries Dustin and Ashley Brown.
How long you were in Burkina Faso and why you were there?
I was an intern in Burkina Faso, West Africa for 6 months. I was there to get a hands-on experience of what being a missionary is like.
What were some of the things you were doing there?
While there, I spent 3 hours Monday to Friday in language school learning French. I was given many opportunities to preach, go on outreach every week, work in a kid’s club, and grow in my relationship with the Lord.
What lessons did you learn during your internships?
Some lessons I learned were:
How to budget in a foreign country.
How better prioritize my time.
How to improve the way I interact with others.
How to improve my preaching.
How to discipline myself to continue to grow and learn everyday.
How were you changed by your time in Burkina Faso?
During my internship, God grew and molded me more than I thought He would. During my time, God taught me how to be more content in all things (Philippians 4:11), to be more loving, to be less prideful, to serve others better, to be disciplined, and to lean on Him a whole lot more.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have learned that there are just a few things that you are going to need if you want to be a missionary. These are humility, a heart to serve others before serving yourself, openness to new things, a desire to always be learning and bettering yourself, and a heart to see souls accept Christ as their Lord and grow in Him.
I was able to see God save and change the lives of numerous people who were working at bars, living in prostitution, and were abusive. I saw them choose God and quit their jobs at the bar, quit living in prostitution, and grow closer to their families. These are some of the things God used in life to grow my love toward Him and my desire to be a missionary.
I also learned that things on the mission field can be difficult and frustrating at times. One time I was in bed, sick with malaria. Everything I ate or drank came right back out. I didn’t have power, and the water was cut for an entire week. A couple of weeks late I went to an ATM to get money for groceries. The ATM took my card and everyone we asked said the card would be returned to America. I felt like I couldn’t catch a break. Then I realized that God was putting me through the fire so that He could mold me into the man He needs me to be. He was helping me to rely and focus more on Him than on myself. After all of these tough times, God always worked it out and showed me that He is in control.
A recent report from the US State Dep. raised more concern about the situation around the world concerning Religious Freedom. Along with other countries like Burma, China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Nigeria was added to the list of countries with the worst religious freedom violations.
They have seen thousands of churches burned, children massacred, pastors beheaded and properties destroyed simply because of their Christian faith. The Bible is clear that in the ends times things will get worse and worse. While I am not a gloom and doom type person, I think we can clearly see how the world is getting worse all the time. Even in the US, Christians are quickly becoming the minority, and the only ones that are not considered when it comes to rights.
During this time we must realize that we have to stand firm, and true to the Word of God, and who we are as Christians. We must also realize that our hope is not in the government, or any man for that matter, except the Lord Jesus Christ. We must strive to get the gospel to a lost and dying world, otherwise there will be no change. This also alerts us to the fact that the Lord’s return could be any day, and we must do what we can, while we still have time, for the day is coming when no man will work. Lord please set a fire in our souls to do the work you have called us to do.
Featured Article: A recent shipwreck off the coast of Libya has taken the lives of 74 migrants with close to 50 survivors having to be rescued. Reports show that there have already been over 900 drownings and more than 11,000 migrants that have been stopped at sea already this year, as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean, to make it to Europe. They are willing to risk such great danger, many times, seeking freedom, and in hopes to make it to a better life for themselves and their families. Although such desperation and sacrifice often turns into disaster and tragedy, there is a tragedy that is much greater taking place as these people are also in a shipwrecked spiritual condition.
Most of Northern Africa would be considered closed to the gospel and often there is very little to no mission work allowed. The tight grasp of Islam makes it even difficult for those who are Christian to live out their faith. So while it truly is a tragedy to hear about these migrants who lost their lives trying to make it to freedom, it is a much greater tragedy that thousands of them die without ever knowing the freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Would you pray for laborers, and open doors, to be able to send a rescue team to reach those who are spiritually shipwrecked without hope and that otherwise will never make it to freedom.
A convoy of soldiers were ambushed in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso. In a fight to show who is in power 14 soldiers lost their lives. Murders and attacks have been on the rise this year in Western Africa area. Please pray that more would surrender and take the gospel to this needy area. You can read more about the attack here. Here is another article.