Called to “the Ends of the Earth”

By Jessica Schaeffer, RN

wp-images5Editor’s note: Recent research shows that more than 2 million babies and mothers die worldwide each year as a result of complications during childbirth. “Each death [here] is a double tragedy, since nearly all of these deaths could be prevented,” says Jessica Schaeffer, a nurse at Koutiala Hospital for Women and Children in Mali, West Africa. She is part of a team of skilled professionals who provide quality medical care that opens doors into the hearts and lives of Malian people who need Jesus. The following is an adapted excerpt from Jessica’s recent update.

On my first visit to Africa during the 2002 Christmas/New Year holiday, my brother [Andrew Schaeffer, who serves with The Alliance in Burkina Faso] took me to a remote village in Mali. We drove long stretches of nothingness on dusty, unmarked roads and passed many villages. I thought I had reached the ends of the earth.

I recall being overwhelmed, because in one village after another there was a mosque, typically in the center of each village. I rarely saw anything that looked like a church. But when I arrived in the remote village of Famorila, there was a Christian clinic and a tiny church.

“Huge Needs”

During that brief visit to Mali, I felt a strong sense that this was where God wanted me—the spiritual and physical needs were huge. I hoped that God would open a door for me to come back to this hot, dusty country on the edge of the desert.

Fast-forward a decade, and here I am—so very grateful that God has made a way for me to be in Mali for the past four—plus years. Sometimes the hot and dusty side of life here gets a little tiresome! But the beauty of Mali is its people. What a joy it is to work alongside Malians and build friendships with them; what a privilege to be a part of what God is doing!

Since that first visit to Mali, I’ve hoped that I could be involved with village ministry (while living in the “city”). So I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to minister in several villages with others from the hospital—encouraging new believers, praying for the sick, and providing medical care.

Village Ministry

Pastor Levi moved to Ntosoni about two years ago; his initial evangelistic efforts were met with much opposition; however, there was interest. A teacher of the majority religion in Mali gave his life to Christ, as did several of the teacher’s followers. But they were so heavily persecuted, they had to flee Ntosoni. Today, that former religious instructor is studying to go into Christian ministry. Pastor Levi has seen about 20 more individuals come to Christ since then, and he is now well-accepted in the village.

I’ve traveled with a hospital team to Ntosoni for Sunday services. Typically, about 35 people meet under the shade of a large tree. But when visitors come, a much larger group is present, including the mayor, village chief, and other important people in the village. The mayor often visits Pastor Levi to discuss spiritual matters; the pastor says our hospital team’s visits have helped to give credibility to his work.

A Satisfying Smile

We met Chatou during a visit to the village of Finzankoro one Sunday in February. After the church service, she requested prayer for the leg ulcers she had endured for 20 years (yes, 20 years!). We encouraged her to visit Koutiala so we could treat her. Later that week Pastor Samuel brought her to the hospital, and we began a daily regime of dressing changes and antibiotics.

She had a large infected ulcer that wrapped around the lower calf of one leg and a small ulcer on her other leg. After a few weeks the small ulcer was healing nicely, and the large ulcer was at a point where we were able to do a skin graft.

Chatou’s graft has healed! After 20 years of dealing with large infected wounds, she is well! I haven’t seen a smile more satisfying than hers in a long time!

She returned to Finzankoro several weeks ago. Pastor Samuel was in Koutiala recently (bringing another patient from the village to the hospital), and he gave us the good news that Chatou had accepted Christ over the weekend with the blessing of her family! She is one of countless patients who come to us from a village in which we have opportunities to offer medical care, pray for, and share the love of Jesus with the villagers.

Thanks for your love, prayers, and generosity that allow me to work near the ends of the earth, enabling many Malians to find physical and spiritual healing in Jesus.

What You Can Do

• For pastors in outlying villages who are discipling new believers—that God will continue to use these men and their
wives in powerful ways to reach their villages
• That Chatou will grow in her faith and that other family members will turn to Christ
• For Jessica, that she will “delight in the Lord and be daily led by Him in my life and ministry at Koutiala”

One More Thing You Can Do

Give to Alliance Great Commission Ministries—partner with international Alliance workers to ensure that Jesus’ physical and spiritual healing continues reaching “to the ends of the earth.”

Learn More

Read about our work in Mali.


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