A woman named Joanna lives far, far away in a country called Burkina Faso. She has lived and worked there for 50 plus years. What does she do in this small, unknown country? She takes care of children…mostly orphans left behind by the AIDS epidemic. And she helps widows of AIDS victims learn skills and find jobs. All of it in the name of Jesus.
We met Joanna in 2006 on a visit to Focus on the Family. It was a total “G-d Thing”. Providential, if you will. She was staying at the same hotel we were at and having breakfast one morning at our table. Big Boss found her first. I was still getting ready to go down for breakfast, when he literally ran into the room and told me to “Hurry up! There’s someone I want you to meet!” The thing is, he finds people he wants me to meet everywhere we go. It’s impossible for him to be in public and not talk to someone. He is NOT bashful. Nope, not him. I always ask him if he isn’t afraid he chumming up to a mass murderer or something? He’s brought total strangers into our home, which is OK, as long as they can prove that they are not criminals on the run! Honestly, I never know who is going show up on my doorstep!
But this was special! OK OK, I’m hurrying. As I skidded into the dining room, there he sat with a very sweet lady….Joanna. From Burkina? Where? I had no idea where Burkina was. So she explained in very understandable English (she speaks 4 languages). And by the time we finished our conversation, I had a new Christian sister who I was ready to follow to Burkina Faso and help her with the ACTS orphanage that she had founded and was now director of.
We exchanged email addys, phone numbers and promised we would stay in touch. Amazingly enough, those weren’t empty promises. We did stay in touch. A year later she came to visit us. And soon after that, our entire community put together a shipping container filled to the brim with clothing, food, medical supplies, gardening equipment, toys, sewing supplies and many other items that we take for granted here but that are needed desperately in other places. Every church was represented in the effort along with some folks who had no church at all. It took a good 3 months for the container to arrive at the orphanage far across the ocean, but it got there along with all of its contents! That in itself was miracle!
The next fall found 3 of our townspeople with passports, more needed supplies and suitcases heading for Africa. They were there for 2 weeks and taught gardening to the children and widows and Bible classes and helped the women sew. All in the name of Jesus.
Joanna is here with us again, telling about the advancements at the ACTS orphange…regular school classes take place now. A medical and dental clinic has been established. Clean water is now available to the compound and the surrounding villagers thanks to herculean efforts by Living Water headquartered in Texas. Church services by Joanna’s husband, the pastor, are held each Sunday with Bible classes offered to all ages. Christ is presented at every opportunity. The lost are found.
One woman. One vision. Through God. Absolutely amazing!!!