Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
This is an email that was just sent to us by WorldVenture's Africa Director. It is so Good to hear God's faithfulness...
Journey Corps West Africa is exceeding expectations in spite of significant political instability.
After an initial three month training in French, local culture, project development, team building and most importantly relationship with God journeyers were intentionally and carefully placed in the homes and lives of African believers.
“When we got into that taxi, with my host family squeezed in beside me, my big suitcase in the trunk, most of my other possessions on my lap and my bicycle tied to the side,” said one journeyer, “it was the most scary day of my life. I thought what have I gotten myself into.”
“And now, just a few weeks later,” said another, “those strangers (the African host family) have become like family. I am with them all the time. I know what they do all day.”
On the ground in Cote d’Ivoire for four and a half months, 10 journeyers and the Journey Corps program have won the admiration and hearts of the long-term missionaries.
I watched Monday morning as two journeyers returned to host families after being gone for 24 hours: big smiles on the journeyers faces, kids in the family running to greet and then huge group hugs in obvious affection.
And journeyers are not only learning the mechanics of living “African” (how to use a “squatty potty”, how to bath modestly in public, how to wash clothes by hand, but they are learning about themselves.
College graduates, some with masters, independent and capable in America, are learning the humility of being obedient in a more highly structured and authoritarian culture. Not only that but journeyers and host families are struggling to communicate with minimal shared language.
As one journeyer put it, “If I can’t submit properly to my host family, how can I submit properly to God.” God is majorly at work in journeyers’ lives.
“The success of the program,” explains Journey Corps West Africa Director, Rod Ragsdale, “is that Journey Corps is like a three legged stool with the key legs being the host family, the local church and the Journeyers. The seat of the stool, the part that connects it all is WorldVenture Cote d’Ivoire, the missionaries and the Journey Corps leadership. Each part is critical. And indeed each part is working well.”
Journeyers arrived just as a new round of political instability and unrest was taking hold through a failed national election process. Currently the pressure, violence, disruptions, essentially all the bad that is in the news about Cote d’Ivoire is taking place in the south of the country. Fortunately journeyers are located in the north with greater relative safety.
Still journeyers are experiencing the stress of the difficult political back drop, especially secondary stress. They are living with host families who they have come to love. They see these families struggling with the loss of jobs and income because of the economic disruption, some students in the family not able to go to school because of the educational disruption and they hear of the physical risks family and friends in the south are experiencing through shared phone conversations.
But even in this area journeyers are learning, growing, strengthening their character and resiliency in the face of significant difficulty.
And there are huge benefits of having the Journey Corps program in Cote d’Ivoire because WorldVenture has a huge and caring medical presence. For instance Saturday night two different journeyers became rather sick with some typical African diseases. Senior missionary and Nurse Practitioner, Robin Hampton, graciously and competently welcomed both women into her home cared for and treated them and had them back in health and on their way in 24 hours.
And journeyers are already making a huge difference in lives here. For example a third grade “sister” in a host family could not read. She was in a class of 90 where her teacher just could not give her the bit of individual attention she needed.
The journeyer in her home takes the girl into her room, closes the door; away from laughing or criticizing eyes. Patiently she is changing that girl’s life. The girl is becoming a reader. That skill alone, plus the loving attention of an adult woman, is changing that girl’s future.
“Journey Corps is not a year in missions,” as one journeyer said, “It is preparation for a life-time of missions.”