Where is Togo? Togo is in West Africa, just north of the Equator. It is east of Ghana, west of Benin, and south of Burkina Faso. For more information about Togo, click here!
Is Togo safe? Togo is about as safe as the United States! They have an active military and police force but, like anywhere else, we will need to be aware of what’s going on around us (situational awareness). We talk more about safety in Togo here, here, and here.
Are there any good hospitals near where you will live? Yes. There is a hospital run by ABWE in Mango, about two hours north of Kara, where we will be serving. People come from all over West Africa to obtain medical help in this hospital, so we are very comfortable and confident in the services they provide. In the case of extreme medical emergencies, our health insurance through ABWE provides medical evacuation/transport to Europe or America.
Will you have Internet access in Togo? Yes, but it can be spotty, like all other utilities in Togo. The middle of the night will probably be the best time for us to use the Internet, as most other people will be asleep by then!
Is there coffee in Togo? Are there coffee shops? Yes, there is coffee, and there might be some (non-American) coffee shops… we think a great business venture would be opening a roadside coffee stand like they have here in Alaska… you’d make SO much money (from us, at least).
Will you live in a hut? No. We will be living in a house or apartment near the orphan complex. We anticipate bringing most of our household goods with us from Alaska. Our home will be equipped with electricity, running water, etc.
Will you have a good source of food? Yes. There are grocery stores and a robust market in Kara that will offer most of what we need and want. The capital, Lome, has just about anything our hearts desire… except maybe snow!
Will you have to learn a new language? Yes. Two in fact: French and Kabiye. French is Togo’s official language. We will spend a year in France studying French. Once in country, we will begin learning Kabiye. Our goal is to be able to effectively share the gospel and disciple the Togolese people in their heart language.
Aren’t you worried about taking your kids overseas? Snakes? Kidnappers? The heat? Food? EVERYTHING!??? Not Really… we trust how the Lord is leading us. We trust that He has good plans for us and our children.
All About ABWE and the Lord’s Leading:
What mission agency are you going with and why? We are serving with ABWE, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. Our reasoning is pretty simple: This is the avenue we feel the Lord leading us to the field! He has confirmed this through His word, people, and His Spirit.
What ministries do you anticipate doing/joining? Primarily, our focus is to help start and run an infant orphan ministry as orphanage directors. The model will work to place children ages 0-2 with believing Togolese families who will raise them to be the next generation of Christian leaders. However, there is much research and groundwork to be done before this ministry is active and fully functioning. In the meantime, we also hope to engage in training pastors, their wives, and other leaders for effective ministry and discipleship.
How did you hear about this ministry? While serving on a short term mission trip in Ghana, we heard that ABWE was looking for orphanage directors. Through several situations/circumstances in our lives, we knew God was leading us in this direction. We aren’t entirely sure how this ministry will play out, but our hearts are to serve in children’s ministry, particularly with those kids who are most vulnerable, and we are anticipating the Lord to do great things!
How do you receive support? Through ministry partners. Partners (whether churches or individuals) can give monthly, quarterly, or annually to partner with us. We believe that all of our financial support comes from God as He leads others to give and join our partnership team. We hope people never feel pressured to give financially, though! Prayer support is even more critical than financial support.
Why didn’t you choose to serve with the IMB or other similar agencies that fully fund you? Great question! When we heard about the opportunity to serve in this capacity in Togo, we felt peace that this was how God was leading us. It was a little scary at first (for Melissa) to have to engage in partnership development/support raising… but now that we’ve been in it for a while, we love it. It is so fun sharing our stories with people who are equally excited about what the Lord is doing in our lives and around the world. We love engaging in life and deepening relationships with people. And if we had chosen to serve (or felt lead to serve) with a mission agency that fully funds us, we would honestly miss this aspect of things. We like building those deep, intentional, one-on-one relationships. Additionally, the IMB does not fully fund missionaries who work in orphan ministry, so if we had chosen to serve with them, we would still be raising our own support.
Where do the funds given, go? Funds go to our ABWE account. Money is given to ABWE, who funnels those funds into our account to meet our needs (salary, insurance, kids education, etc.). We do not currently draw any of those funds to meet our needs on prefield. While that may need to happen in the future, God is providing financially for us through Melissa’s job.
All About Us:
What are your experiences/qualifications? Besides salvation and giftings of the Holy Spirit, God has prepared us for this ministry in various ways. We both have experience teaching all age groups (from children to senior adults), have practiced hospitality, and previously oversaw the nursery ministry at our sending church. Melissa’s job experience as a Business Systems Analyst will help with running the “business” side of the orphanage and Allen’s degree in Christian Ministry will help with all aspects of teaching, leading, and overseeing ministry opportunities.
Have you been to Seminary? No. We have not been to Seminary, nor does ABWE require seminary for the ministry we’ll be doing in Togo. However, we have engaged in fruitful and effective ministry here in the United States (and abroad!) since the early 2000s. Moving to another country does not negate how the Lord can and will use us, with or without seminary. All that to say, if we felt Him leading one or both of us in the future to attend seminary, we absolutely would!
How will you educate your children? We anticipate homeschooling our children, but if opportunities arise for our kids to attend a local missionary kid (MK) school, then we would explore that option. Along those lines, if you have any leftover homeschool curriculum, we’d love to take it off your hands!