An Adventure with God: Alison Dirksen
The sun had just set as Alison stepped off her plane in Johannesburg. What was once summer when she boarded her plane in Des Moines was now winter when she exited the plane. She nervously went through customs to retrieve her baggage and passed through large doors to find a diverse group of people all waiting for their travelers. She scanned the group looking for some kind of sign with her name—nothing. Finally she made eye contact with Ruth, the woman she was to meet. After a big hug, a sigh of relief, and almost entering the wrong side of the car, Alison was on her way to beginning her summer internship at Bethesda Outreach in Hammanskraal, South Africa.
Last school year Alison Dirksen, a senior Office Administration major, asked if Faith was planning a missions trip to South Africa during the summer of 2016. After discovering that there was not a trip being planned, she decided it was actually for the best. She needed to fulfill her internship requirement to graduate at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Brenda, a Faith staff member who has traveled with several South Africa missions teams, learned of Alison’s interest in going to South Africa. She suggested doing an internship at Bethesda Outreach in Hammanskraal, a town located about 67 miles north of Johannesburg. Bethesda Outreach is a ministry that takes in orphans and disciples them in adopted family units while educating them in a Christian school. Brenda thought because it is both an orphanage and a school, Bethesda Outreach would be an ideal place for a ministry internship. Through Brenda, Alison connected with the missionaries, and everybody agreed that Alison would spend the month of July interning at Bethesda.
Brenda and Alison worked over the spring semester to prepare for the internship—getting connected with the right people, researching and booking flights, and knowing what and how to pack. July finally rolled around, and Alison found herself on a plane crossing the Atlantic.
“I was nervous to travel by myself,” Alison commented, “but it was cool to see me by myself apart from everything I know—my school, my church, my family. I didn’t have any of those things. I think it was the first time that it was just me and God going on an adventure,” she said with a laugh.
Alison’s adventure began when she arrived on property at Bethesda the day after landing in Johannesburg. Her first two weeks on site were spent in the administrative office with Ruth. Alison worked alongside Ruth doing many projects. From organizing databases and sorting pictures to sending emails and writing monthly publications, Alison helped in a variety of office responsibilities. Alison spent the last two weeks of the internship in the school office helping Heather Rumley (’03), the school’s office administrator and counselor. A lot of Alison’s work consisted of organizing the school curriculum for the following year, as well as filing, copying, and ensuring teachers had correct information from the office.
“It was really cool to work in both offices,” Alison explained. “I felt like I was able to really compare the two kinds of offices—both administrative offices and school offices. It was also cool to use the things I’ve learned in the classroom as opposed to just sitting and learning them. It was very real and made me apply what I’ve learned. I was even able to see from Heather how to use my Biblical Counseling minor in the office.”
Alison was scheduled to work in the offices 8 AM–4 PM most days. When she left the offices each day, she was reminded of the reason for Bethesda Outreach—the children. About 50 children reside at Bethesda, and Alison was impacted by each one of them.
“Any time I could spare, I wanted to be with them! My heart just felt so full with them,” she said with a big smile. “I remember one girl and her siblings; they just wrapped themselves around my heart.”
During Alison’s time in Hammanskraal, two teams from the States came to Bethesda to minister. Because Alison got to work with the visiting teams and take a break from the office, she had even more time to spend with the kids. From pushing them on the swings and coloring to providing childcare and playing games, she cherished every moment of her time with them.
“The best advice I got before going to South Africa (and I would probably pass it on to anyone else), was to take advantage of every opportunity. Time flies, so take advantage of it. Just pour yourself into it, and you won’t regret it.”
Alison learned several things from her internship. First, she learned from a local souvenir shop that she was “really bad at bartering.” Second, she learned that God wants us to be faithful to Him each day as He is faithful to us. He will show us the next steps to take in His timing. Third, she learned about God’s love for His children.
“Seeing orphan care was huge for me by making me see God as a Father to the fatherless, which struck me a lot. It made me think of the love I had for the kids, and how much greater God’s love must be for them and for us. It’s a reminder that I’m an orphan, and God adopted me.”
What started off as an internship for a graduation requirement turned into a burden and passion for children. All along the way Alison saw examples and demonstrations of God’s love and care for His children while experiencing His companionship. When we are tempted to feel alone, Alison’s internship serves as a reminder that God is always with us—for each step and every adventure.
Taking the Gospel to Thailand
With the summer season upon us, the Faith Family is getting ready to be spread across the state, the country, and the globe while on break from classes. Our faculty, staff, and students will be serving in a vareity of ways—from internships and teaching in foreign schools to serving in camp ministries and mission fields. Two of our freshmen students, Malisa Bounkhong and Ericka Wall, are preparing to spend 11 weeks serving 8,000 miles from home this summer in Thailand.
“This trip is a step of obedience; a willingness to submit to God’s will and meet Him where He is,” Ericka explained. “A verse that has been emphasized at school this year is Acts 1:8, commonly known as the great commission. This verse is a challenge to all believers to be willing to go wherever God would have them. This verse called upon us to be open to God’s leading, even if He led us halfway around the globe!”
Malisa and Ericka both joined the Faith Family this school year. During the fall semester, they were both considering what their summer options were going to be. After Ericka’s several mission trip leads fell through, she planned to stay home and spend time with her family for the summer. Although Malisa had an interest in Thailand since high school, she had applied to serve on one of Faith’s summer ministry teams and was set on that.
And then Missions Conference happened.
During Faith’s Missions Conference in October, God was working in Malisa’s heart and growing a burden for missions. Through a string of connections, she met Steven and Linda Kuehn, missionaries transitioning from the Philippines to Thailand. After learning of her interest in Thailand, the Kuehns invited Malisa to go to Thailand this summer and encouraged her to bring a friend. After much prayer and wrestling with the decisions, Malisa knew this was the plan God had for her.
Ericka, on the other hand, had set her plans to stay home for the summer after God seemed to close the door for missions opportunities. She was completely content to spend the summer at home with friends and family.
And then Missions Conference happened.
When Phil Hunt spoke about obedience at our Missions Conference, Ericka felt God tugging at her heart. She knew she needed to surrender total obedience to God’s will, whatever that may look like. That same day, Malisa asked Ericka to accompany her on the missions trip to Thailand, and after much prayer, Ericka agreed this was the Lord’s leading.
Both Malisa and Ericka are anticipating experiencing and serving on the mission field firsthand. While in Thailand, they will be working with the Keuhns, as well as Don and Gail Craft in Sawang Daen Din, a town in the northern part of Thailand. The ladies will also work in camps, children ministries, and church ministries. “At Faith, we’ve been taught to live a life of service—a life centered on God,” they explained. “We’re learning to obey God in every step as we are preparing to love people and have a burden for them.”
Please be in prayer for Ericka, Malisa, and all our students as they set out this summer to take the Word to the World.
Supporters can get updates on their missions trip by checking out thaithatbinds.weebly.com.
A Big Impact in a Short Time
“They picked us up at the airport, and then they took us six hours up to Huehuetenango. The first day we didn’t do a lot—we organized, recuperated, and got ready for what we would be doing.”
This is how sophomore Rachel Kramer began her ministry over her Christmas break. She boarded a plane in Minneapolis with only one thing on her mind—Guatemala.
Rachel spent her Christmas break serving in Guatemala with a team sponsored by Huehue Ministries, an organization dedicated to gospel ministry in the city of Huehuetenango and the surrounding area. This trip was her third time going to Guatemala and her second consecutive year going with Heuhue Ministries. Both trips were about two weeks long spanning the New Year holiday.
Most of Rachel’s opportunities involved children’s and music ministry, from Vacation Bible Schools to children’s programs to special concerts (both in Spanish and English). Being in a Central American country, activities like soccer (a passion of Rachel’s), helped her connect instantly with the kids she ministered to. Rachel’s Iowa church even donated eight soccer balls for her trip, and she had opportunities to leave a soccer ball with several churches for future use.
Rachel and the team extended their ministry opportunities to the Fundación Salvación, an orphanage in Huehuetenango. During their time at the orphanage, the team’s main project was painting the entire kitchen. Although this was their primary goal, Rachel took advantage of the various opportunities God gave her at the orphanage.
“There was one particular little boy named Anderson, and he was so sweet,” Rachel said with a laugh. “He had come up to me and loved to pretend he took my nose. He’d run up to me and say, ‘Yo tengo tu nariz!’ (‘I got your nose’) and run away. He couldn’t say nariz, because he’s a 4-year old, so he said naniz. It was really cute! He would run away, and I kept telling him, ‘Hey I need my nose, bring it back to me!’ He was a lot of fun."
“A lot of these kids actually have families but are just unable to provide for them. They want that love that they don’t get. I wanted them to know God’s love through any bit of love that we could show them.”
As the trip was coming to a close and Rachel was preparing to head home, she learned of Guatemala’s need for Christian counselors after talking with her team leader’s family. “Guatemala has a huge need for counselors,” Rachel explained. “Especially because there are pastors there who don’t get the luxury of a Bible college education. They’re very much in a desperate need of counselors to counsel their pastors and people in the church.” This information has given Rachel a new drive to study counseling while working on her World Missions degree here at Faith.
Before leaving for Guatemala in December, Mark Lounsbrough, the Chair of the Missions Department at Faith, encouraged Rachel how to make the most of a short-term missions trip. She mentioned the blessing it is to have his insight on how to make an impact not just for two weeks, but for a lifetime. Rachel’s primary goal was connecting the people she met to the local churches in Guatemala. Her classes here have taught her how to be flexible and how to get out of your comfort zone—something she got to put into practice while on this trip. Rachel hopes to return to Guatemala during next year’s Christmas break to continue the work there, and who knows, maybe she will get her nose back from Anderson when she returns.
Faith Faculty Go Global
Here at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary God has blessed us with qualified and experienced faculty who minister not only the classroom but also around the world. From Peru, to Brazil, to India—Faith faculty are helping fulfil our mission of taking the Word to the World.
Seminário Batista Regular do Sul in Pinhais, Brazil, is a ministry that is very familiar with Faith faculty. Dr. Keith Kobelia (’99) of our Bible and Theology faculty has recently travelled there twice, while Dr. Alan Cole, chair of our Bible and Theology Division, will teach there for his first time this summer. SBRS asked Dr. Kobelia to come down and teach in the seminary both in 2014 and 2015. He accepted the offer and taught a module-style class on premillennialism in 2014 and on theological trends in 2015. Dr. Cole will teach Advanced Pneumatology this summer, which covers issues relating to the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Dr. Cole is already working on learning some basic Portuguese and looks forward to “butchering the language” as a means to connect with his future students.
“There is a need for good theological teaching in other countries,” Dr. Kobelia explained. “Brazil is at a stage where they need nationals training nationals to become self-sufficient. There is a need to help train nationals, so they can help carry on Bible training in other countries.”
Another summer opportunity presented itself to Dr. Jeff Newman (’87) of our Bible and counseling faculty. In addition to his previous teaching experience in Peru through the Baptist Mid-Missions ¡Arriba! program, Dr. Newman is scheduled to teach at Seminario Bautista del Perú in Trujillo, Peru, this summer. While in Peru, Dr. Newman will also teach at Seminario Evangélico Bautista Independiente del Cusco in Urubamba where he will be joined by Dr. Mark Stupka (’84), the chair of our Christian School Department.
“Teaching overseas always leaves me rejoicing in the bond in Christ shared by brothers and sisters around the world,” Dr. Newman says. “Even though we struggle to communicate, we share in our relationship with Him.”
Our faculty members do not only receive teaching requests, but also general speaking requests. Dr. Dan Brown (’79) of our seminary faculty just returned from Cochin, India, at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary. (Yes, another FBBC&TS!). As the director of their doctor of ministry program, Dr. Brown spoke for their first graduation of the D.Min. students as well as at their Bible conference. After spending time at FBBC&TS, he traveled to Berean Baptist Bible College in Bangalore before heading home to Iowa.
Mark Lounsbrough (’82, ’83), the chair of our Missions Department, had the special opportunity to go to Juazeiro do Norte, Brazil, in February—the city where he served as a missionary for 19 years. Baptist Mid-Missions invited Mr. Lounsbrough to speak at the Brazil Northeast Region Conference. This was a time not only for encouraging the missionaries, but also for him and his family to visit old friends and colleagues in the area. He brought a series of messages from Ezra and Haggai to encourage the laborers in Northern Brazil.
God has blessed us with an incredible faculty, and we are thankful for their service to our students and to Christ. “I love the light-bulb moments when students understand something about God, themselves, the world in which they live, and/or how to represent Christ more clearly,” Dr. Newman said. “That facial expression and tone of voice needs no translation. I pray those light-bulb moments contribute to both students and a professor who better walk in the light.”
Faith on the Road: David Mohler and Eric Young
“Morning chapel at a school. Cold calls. Stop by a church or two. Drive to hotel.”
This is the typical day for Eric Young and David Mohler, Faith’s full-time traveling representatives. While most faculty and staff members are behind a desk or in a classroom, Eric and David are rarely on campus. These guys hop in their rental vehicle and drive across the country throughout the school year representing Faith to churches, pastors, Christian schools and in youth rallies.
Eric, from Eyota, Minnesota, and David, from West Des Moines, Iowa, both graduated from Faith in May 2015. In the spring semester of their senior year, they were both asked to come on staff as our traveling reps. After much prayer and consideration, both accepted the offer to come on staff in August following their graduation.
While in school, both Eric and David were heavily involved in Faith’s extra-curricular programs. Eric spent two of his summers on camp teams, while participating in soccer, basketball, and class government during the school year. David participated in soccer, two summers of camp teams, class and student body government, and the Student Pastors Fellowship. Needless to say, both men know Faith inside and out and were excellent choices as representatives.
“When I came to Faith, I had a passion for spiritual things, but I struggled with authority and just going through the motions,” Eric explained. “Faith had a huge impact on my life. The guys that I played basketball with my freshman year, the RA’s that I had, little seemingly insignificant conversations—all these things together really influenced me for the better.” Eric said these influences instilled in him a deeper passion and love for Christ.
“I appreciated the leadership opportunities and the exposure to learning organization, a.k.a. trial by fire,” David said with a laugh when asked about how his time at Faith had helped him. “Being mentored and discipled by the staff helped me build close relationships.”
Each week Eric and David aim to be in two churches and at least three Christian schools with the occasional youth rally on the weekend. Time away from home is always rough, especially when both men have fiancées waiting for them back home. Although Eric and David value the time they get to be at their home churches, both agreed that visiting so many churches and ministries is a fantastic opportunity! Representing Faith has also given both men great opportunities for gospel witness and encouragement to high school students.
Eric and David, or “the boys” as they are known in the office, have finished up their much-deserved Christmas break after driving more than 15,000 miles during the first semester. They have headed out for their second semester schedule beginning in Tennessee. After the school year is done and their travelling days are finished, Eric will be getting married in August with the long-term goal of going into vocational ministry. David, who will also be getting married later this year, is planning on working in the technology industry back home in West Des Moines.
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