Martha and I are presently assigned as itinerant missionaries to West Africa. The mission there is registered with its French name “Vision Intégrale” (meaning a comprehensive or all-encompassing vision). We transitioned into this ministry in June 2016, when Martha and I were formally invited to participate in two overlapping ministries for the West African region. Both of these ministries can be done from our office-at-home in Alabama, while we care for my mom (Hedy Enns) in our home.
We are helping the Africa e1 team (e1 stands for the 1st phase of missionary training, called: equipping). In Africa, this means helping believers from the local churches who want to be trained and equipped so that they can participate in cross-cultural and heart-language outreach to other ethnic groups that do not yet have a thriving, maturing church.
Our ministry also involves translating other resource material into French for these missionary candidates in Africa. Although the training is in French, the trainees will be learning how to evangelize and plant churches in areas that can only be reached through the people’s heart languages, all across West Africa and beyond.
Martha and I started our own missionary training at NTM Canada in 1972. This year is the mission’s 75th anniversary, and the USA branch is commemorating it with a new name: Ethnos360. The Greek word ethnos means “ethnic” groups or nations; and our mission goal is to see the Word of God reach 360 degrees around the world. NTM Canada is planning to also adopt a version of this name; as we press on together to see the whole world reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Martha and I were initially assigned to Senegal, in West Africa, in 1980, where we learned French; and then helped a missionary team develop an alphabet for the Balanta people. (There are still hundreds of languages that don’t have a writing system, which is needed in order to translate the Scriptures into their language.) In the summer of 1982 we were asked to help start a mission work in Côte d’Ivoire. Our first ministries there were teaching French and Orientation to new missionaries, while Martha taught school to the missionaries’ children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
As more missionaries arrived and moved into remote African villages, we opened our home to board missionary children who needed to attend the Yamoussoukro International School. Then in 1996, our mission leaders asked Martha and me to move to the capital city, Abidjan, in order to help the mission with paperwork and business, including international travel and hosting a guest house for missionaries. But a few years later, all missionaries had to leave the country, first in 2002-2003 and again at the end of 2004. While in the States, I was able to complete the French translation of the “Building on Firm Foundations”, a 3-volume manual on evangelism used by many of our missionaries.
In the following years, we also did a 3-year project in Haiti, as “on loan” missionaries to the Baptist Haiti Mission. We were able to develop a chronological set of Bible lessons for first and second grade education. This included a Haitian Creole Bible story to accompany each week’s lesson, and a coloring workbook for the students, plus a hardback Teachers’ Guide containing lesson plans in French for 4 days a week, for each year.
Now, we are enjoying our long-distance ministry to Africa, where we started so many years ago. In this way, we can still participate “as part of the Church, serving the Church, to expand the Church.”