Introduction to the Honebeins:
Jacob, Melissa, Grace, Caleb and Hope
Missionaries with Ethnos360
Serving in West Africa
I was born in Loveland, Colorado where I lived most of my early childhood. We went to church with my mom when I was young. When I was 7 years old my Dad started attending church with us. My dad, my sister and I all learned about God’s plan of salvation and were baptized together. But I started to doubt my salvation when I was 16. I struggled with assurance for 8 long months before my heart was satisfied. On July 5th, 1997 after many desperate prayers that God would confirm my salvation, He put a witness in my heart, saying “Yes, you are a Christian and yes, your sins are forgiven.” It was a turning point in my life. Not only were my doubts satisfied, my soul was free.
I grew up in a Christian home. It was at age 5 that I realized that I was a sinner and that only by believing in Christ could I be saved from the punishment of Hell. In my teens, I was baptized, and I realized the importance of reading my Bible daily. It was then that I really started to grow in my walk with God and draw closer to Him. The year after I graduated from college was very difficult for me, but through it all, God taught me that He was good no matter what and that He could get me through what seemed impossible. My training at New Tribes Mission in 2009 changed my life because it taught me who I am in Christ. I am continually learning to walk in the truth of who I am in Christ and to worship Him for what He has done for me.
Vision for Missions
My (Jacob) vision for missions came when we were reading through Romans as a family shortly after my time of doubting my salvation. We read that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, but the people who have not heard of Jesus cannot call on Him and thus they can’t be saved (10:13-15). So there is a progression toward salvation: starting with people who are sent (missionaries) – they go to preach Jesus to those who have never heard. These people hear the gospel and have a chance to believe and be saved. God spoke to my heart about me becoming one of those preachers. I decided I would obey and spend my life making Him known to those who have never heard. God allowed me to go on a 6-week trip to Ghana, West Africa in 2002, and He gave me a vision for reaching Africa with the Gospel while I was there. Before I went to Ghana I heard of a little country called Benin, it is between Nigeria and Togo. Benin is an especially dark country spiritually. As I began researching this country, I started praying that God would reach these people and if He would send me, I would go. I haven’t stopped praying for this country, but God has made it clear that we are not needed there to do the work we initially thought we would be doing – He is using other believers who could do it much better than I could.
In preparation for Africa, I went to New Tribes Bible Institute in Waukesha, WI and got an Associate’s Degree in Biblical Studies. I believed then (and am now convinced) that NTBI was a place that God could prepare me to reach the unreached. While I was going to school there I started to attend Calvary Memorial Church in Racine, WI. It was there I met Melissa who also wanted to pursue missions. She had grown up as a missionary kid. Her vision for missions came from her growing up years on the field. Her desire was to go to the area of the world with the most need. It was in our training in Canada as she heard what God was doing with NTM in West Africa that Melissa felt God confirm her calling to go to West Africa.
At New Tribes Bible Institute there were classes about how to study the Bible (Hermeneutics) as well as how to preach the Bible (Homiletics). We went through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and even some history between the testaments. We learned about missions – classes that introduced us to the spiritual needs of the world. Learning how to study the Bible was one of the highlights of my time there. Being able to sit down with one section of scripture and STUDY it, LEARN from it, NOURISH my soul with it and be able to TEACH it was life changing. Bible School for me became so freeing. We took classes that dealt with us living our Christian life, theology, the end times, and God’s plan for the church. We also learned how New Tribes Mission works to share the gospel with people who have no concept of the God of the Bible by teaching the Bible chronologically.
My wife and I continued with New Tribes missionary training in Ontario, Canada after Bible school. Our training included classes, work, discipleship, fellowship and practical experiences. About half of our classes focused on foundational Bible truths, principles of church planting, cross cultural training and teamwork; the other half centered on linguistics, translation, literacy, language practicums and technology on the field. It was at this training center that God changed Melissa’s life as she learned about her position in Christ.
We have each worked in different fields as caregivers, Melissa as a nurse and Jacob as a living skills instructor at a home for handicapped individuals. We learned skills that helped us deal with people, on many different levels. One thing these experiences taught us is how to build meaningful relationships with people. Jacob’s interest in different projects has equipped him to help in various ways as well as build bridges into the culture. We were able to build many great relationships with our neighbors in Africa. We intend to continue this relationship building as we minister to people who come to stay at the guesthouse.
As we began serving our first term in Senegal studying French and African culture, we realized our goals for living and working in a village didn’t fit the gifts that God had clearly given us, which were service and hospitality. We love to help people! We became increasingly aware of the needs on the service team as we studied in the same city as the mission office. We were able to observe these men and women serve the village works in innumerable ways. After seeing this and seeing our own gifts fitting these roles well, we decided to follow the leadership’s recommendation and accept a position on the service team by running the guesthouse in Dakar. The guesthouse is a multi-faceted position, which entails scheduling rooms, maintaining the mission grounds, managing the workers, and caring for people who come to stay there. We would be available to hear their stories, help them get their vehicles fixed, take them to the airport, help them with any odds and ends that they need in Dakar. This role might also include some supply trips to these village works for the encouragement of those missionaries. Our goal is to serve these works and in so doing, play an important role in the church planting efforts all across West Africa.