Moody's 2019 commencement season concludes
When Moody graduate Sharon Holst saw a Facebook photo of several orphans lying sick with malaria in Togo, West Africa, she couldn’t stop looking at the picture. She sensed God telling her, You could do something about that.
Sharon learned that a Christian orphanage director named Tengue was caring for 62 children, many of whom had been orphaned by a cholera epidemic. Resources were scarce, and four children had died from malaria the previous year.
After a decade of homeschooling her four sons, the 1993 Moody graduate had been praying that God would use her International Ministries degree more fully. “I was intending to wait and spend time seeking the Lord before getting involved in something new,” she says, “but this could not wait.”
Sharon began sending donations to buy food and medicine and even paid for a little boy’s operation. Then she started a sponsorship program to provide more funds for urgent needs.
But God had more in mind. In 2017, she was reading her issue of Moody Alumni News when she saw an article about the Moody School of the Bible and its cooperation with Theovision International in Ghana. As a part of Moody School of the Bible, hundreds of pastors and church leaders in Ghana were taking audio courses on solar-powered devices and had even graduated from the Bible program. Even better, they were leading Bible study listening groups to bring the Word of God to people in many rural areas!
Sharon had to believe that God was orchestrating this connection. Plans were set in motion for a visit to Africa in May 2019, not only to see the orphanage she was supporting, but to find a way to reach more people in Togo with God’s Word. “It turned out to be the beginning of something much larger than myself,” she says.
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See how God is using Sharon to help orphans and others in Togo, West Africa.
For two years Sharon led a group of 50 supporters, seeing God work through their ministry of giving. They were able to provide vaccines, HIV testing, clothing and school supplies, school fees, bicycles, chickens and goats, gender-separated sleeping quarters, and a newly drilled fresh water well with a generator to the children’s village.
She also discovered that the children lacked regular spiritual instruction in even the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Taking care of 62 kids leaves little time for the orphanage director, Tengue, to teach the Bible. So for her trip in May, Sharon prepared seven 10-minute lessons to teach the children about Jesus. As another believer taught the lessons in the Ewe (“ay-way”) language, one little girl came up and shared her excitement with the translator, who told Sharon, “They are so hungry for God.”
Regular input of the Word of God is vital, and “oral learning is a key to reaching this animistic village and its next generation,” Sharon says, “because even the children in school have no books to read and lack essential literacy skills. In fact, I did not see one book being read by anyone the entire time I was in the village.”
Through Sharon’s connection with Moody School of the Bible, she discovered plans were in the works to expand the reach of Radio School of the Bible into Togo by translating the Bible courses into the Ewe language. “When I read that, I was like What?! Moody, my alma mater, has a plan to reach into Togo. I need to help with this somehow! How can I help with this?”
She contacted Moody graduate Stephen Asare, Moody’s manager of Donor Appreciation and son of Theovision’s founders. She learned that Theovision has translated and recorded the New Testament into 400 African languages, including Ewe.
“As a graduate of Moody, I have a very high view of the Word of God, and I listen to the Word every day by listening to an audio Bible—and I know what a powerful effect it has on my life,” Sharon says. “As someone who has been transformed by listening to and studying the Word of God, I want to bring this means of reaching out to as many rural Togolese as possible.”
Tengue is aiming to start the first Bible listening group in his village. A second group will be led by the local pastor in the nearby town of Afagnon. Because Togo is the birthplace of voodoo and has an increasing presence of Islam in the country, Sharon knows a work of the Spirit is needed to pull this off. She is coordinating prayer for Togo and other West African countries through Moody Global Outreach, a 24/7 online prayer website. She is also looking forward to Moody School of the Bible being taught in Togo’s Ewe language.
“God is moving me to stay involved because there is such urgency to meet even basic needs,” she says. “Jesus sent me to those who are suffering to share in the fellowship of His sufferings and bring His love, joy, truth, and the freedom of the gospel to those who will believe.”
Sharon is thankful that God has used her heart for missions and her Moody training in this unexpected way. In fact, she already has a ticket to return to Togo with a friend next spring, with plans to bring more Christian love and resources to the children. “We have six months to develop tools to teach truths,” she says. “I was once one of those who, even as a missions major, said, ‘Please don’t send me to Africa.’ Now I am one who says, ‘Lord, please send me back to Africa in Your time and in Your strength.’”
Dr. Michael Rydelnik is passionate about teaching students. He wants them to be confident as they understand and apply Scripture with an eye on impacting lives for Jesus.
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