Back in October as part of our monthly in-service training with AgriCorps, Nathan and I visited this place called “Liberia International Christian College (LICC).” Partnering with the school was an international NGO mission called “Hope in the Harvest” whose mission is to “cultivate Christ’s hope in underdeveloped and impoverished areas of the world through agricultural and personal transformation.” Their vision is simply “generating Christ-centered economic growth.” The NGO and its amazing founders, Gina and Travis Sheets, have been partnering with the school since 2011 by helping to run the agriculture department and demonstration farm. The work that they have done in this short amount of time is unbelievable and unlike any other organization I have seen in Liberia; that is of course why we were brought to visit them in the first place!
As we got a tour of the agriculture department and the agriculture practical site, we kept getting blown away by all that we were seeing. There were so many things we had never seen in Liberia before, things we didn’t even know existed because they are so rare here. For example, there were fields full of pineapple, peppers, and corn, cages filled with chickens, turkeys, pigeons, quail, rabbits, geese, and dairy goats (the only herd in the country so I’m told!) There was also a miniature zoo to educate students and community members about species that were native to Liberia’s habitat but that hardly anyone knew about or cared about after the war destroyed so much of their habitat. I saw monkeys, crocodiles, civets, pottos, parrots, iguanas, deer, and more. In addition, we met staff who were knowledgeable about so much and clearly eager to teach and to learn more themselves. We also met students who were equally as eager to teach and to learn.
We were in awe of everyone there and everything that the mission was doing. And when we heard the story about how it all began and their vision for how they saw this place growing and continuing to make an impact in Liberia our hearts were stirring because we could see it too! As we went through the weekend, I secretly dreamed about being able to work here next year, or maybe somewhere like this place in the future. Working at a place like this would give the opportunity to work in agriculture internationally and use that as a venue to share my faith…something I have always dreamed about and felt led to do. I let the thought cross my mind, but I was cautious not to let it grow into anything too big…besides, in my mind we weren’t nearly qualified to work at a place like this. I also couldn’t imagine being able to try and fill the shoes left behind by Gina and Travis, even though Travis once said in a casual conversation “you know you could work here, you guys would be great.” I shrugged and said the place was amazing and chalked the offer up to just him being friendly, but not serious.
Well after the weekend trip up to LICC, Nathan and I got to talking. He too thought the place was amazing and when I told him I dreamed of working at a place like that he agreed that he felt there was definitely a God-sized reason we had visited but what that was we still weren’t too sure. We thought that maybe God had brought us there just to meet the Sheets, or maybe just so that we could see Him visibly at work in Liberia, or maybe so that we could become donor/advocates for the mission, or maybe it was in order to give Nathan a vision of what he hoped to accomplish one day himself (he has spent a lot of time these past few years thinking about business/NGO ideas that would allow both of us to work in agriculture and share our faith through that venue). As we were contemplating these things, we received an email from the Sheets asking us if we had ever thought about mission work and if so what about working with Hope in the Harvest?
Well that was all it took and our minds were racing with excitement thinking about all the different ways we could use our own experiences, passions, and skills to help further the work of Hope in the Harvest in Liberia. We could teach, train teachers, train extension agents, help students do research projects, help share agricultural information with the government’s Ministry of Agriculture from our own experiments, help preserve unique species, learn about new areas of agriculture ourselves, lead bible studies, disciple students, work with youth development programs like 4-H and FFA and help their impact spread even further, and work with local farmers in conducting Farming Gods Way trainings. This felt like the natural next step for us and it was so clear. We were only 3 months into living in Liberia and already it felt like we knew what we were supposed to do after our time with AgriCorps was finished, it was so exciting! But then, a few weeks after the initial excitement though doubts started to set in fast. Can we handle being away from our friends and family again? Do we really want to stay in Liberia for 2 more years? Are we wasting our “youth” by not chasing after a “normal career job”? How will we raise the money needed for our combined salaries? Do we really have any skills/experience that are useful to the mission there? Do we have what it takes to be a “missionary”? What are our motives for wanting to do this, to try and earn the favor of God, to be admired by others, to further our careers, or to really work alongside our friends here for the good of Liberia? Is this what God wants us to do? Is this where He is leading us?
And so we’ve spent the past 6 months talking with each other, talking with family and friends and most importantly talking with God in prayer. And the more we tried to debate with each other and play devil’s advocate and come up with reasons for why we shouldn’t stay, the more reasons God showed us for why we should stay, why this is exactly where He wants us. We knew it from the beginning, the first time we visited there was something drawing us to this place and to this work. And so now here we are feeling so at peace, ready and excited to commit another 2 years to living in Liberia! Ready to move north to a new town, meet new people, work with new students, encounter new challenges, and stretch our minds and hearts even further in our pursuit to see His kingdom come to earth. We couldn’t be more excited to share the news with you! We cannot do this alone though and so we ask that you please join us in prayer for the following things:
- Prayers for Gina and Travis as they wrap up their time with the mission in Liberia. They have dedicated an incredible 5 years to the mission and their vision is what started this whole thing!
- Please pray for us as we wrap up our time in Kakata with AgriCorps, that we would continue to work hard and not grow weary; continue to challenge and encourage the students and the FFA.
- Prayers for us and the Seebalds (another couple also joining the mission in September) as we all make preparations for this next big life change.
- Prayers for the students, workers, teachers, and staff at LICC that they will stay strong in their faith and hold fast to the mission of the school.
- Prayers for Nathan and I as we set out to start fundraising the money needed for our salaries (more updates on how you can help in the next blog post, for now all we ask is for your prayerful consideration).
- Prayers for our trip back to the US in July and August that it would be restful as well as productive.