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Boundless

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Convincing African Americans there is a place for us to serve overseas is challenging due to the tremendous needs in our own African-American communities. Generally, in the black church, the missionary society is more of a local ministry. If someone desires to be involved internationally, the way to participate is often through a prayer ministry or a campaign to send supplies. Therefore, we have a tremendous emphasis on intercession and giving but little emphasis on sending new workers.

Even though there may be deep challenges and needs in our own community, when God calls, He knows what He’s doing. He has a specific purpose for those He sends, including when He sent me.

Something Special

Even as a child, I was very aware of God’s love and of His Son, Jesus Christ. But it wasn’t until age 19, while I was a student in nursing school, that I understood my need to ask Jesus Christ to be my Savior.

Church members pray for Neysa at a commissioning service at Union Avenue C&MA Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Neysa Badili

One evening at a Youth for Christ rally, I gave my heart to the Lord. I promised Him that night, “I want to serve You 100 percent or not at all.”

Immediately, I had a deep sense that God had something special and unique for me to do. I truly believed He had something else in mind for me other than traditional hospital nursing.

Shortly after giving my life to the Lord, I was invited to Brown St. C&MA Church (now Riverside Alliance Church) in Akron, Ohio. I fell in love with the people, but more importantly, with the teachings of God’s Word. I attended every service including the annual missionary conference.

100 Percent

During the first missionary conference I attended, God spoke to me during one of the messages, letting me know He was leading me to be a missionary. I knew very little about what it meant to be a missionary, and frankly, the idea of going to a foreign country as a single 21-year-old woman was extremely scary to me. However, I wanted to keep my promise to serve the Lord 100 percent.

After the service, I introduced myself to the missionary speaker. I told her about my call, and she gave me a powerful response—a quote from Victor Raymond Edman. She said, “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” Those words have come to mind many times during what appeared to be dark times in my life.

Bear Fruit

Soon after I received my call, I prepared to begin my career as a missionary. I attended Nyack (N.Y.) College and Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bible College, where I graduated with a B.S. in missionary nursing.

However, even during this time of preparation, I had many doubts and fears about my call. I contacted someone from the C&MA National Office, who advised me to “get rid of the doubts.” His words seemed tough at the time, but he was correct in what he told me to do. I could not continue to prepare to go to the mission field until I was certain of my call.

For about a year I ran away from the call, which caused me great anxiety and stress since it’s impossible to run from God no matter how hard we try. I learned what the phrase “Hound of Heaven” means.

Simply Responding

Eventually, I became desperate to get this matter settled with the Lord. I checked into a hotel to get away for a few days and spend time on my knees. The Lord spoke to me through John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

Neysa (left) and friend Rachelle work on a course for Theological Education by Extension. Photo courtesy of Neysa Badili

Once I had that confirmation, I experienced so much joy, and despite the objections of some of my family and close friends who thought I had “lost my mind,” I continued my journey of preparation.

When I contacted the C&MA National Office about applying for missionary service, I did not realize there were so few African-American international workers. In fact, there had not been an African-American missionary with the C&MA for 50 years.

I went across the country, speaking in churches and sharing with them about my call. Sometimes I was challenged with the question, “How can you go overseas when we have so many problems here?” I answered that I was simply responding to God’s call on my life.

Enriching and Rewarding

I did my missionary internship in Harlem, New York, and then continued onto Albertville, France, for one year of language study. In 1980 I flew to Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), West Africa, for missionary service.

Neysa stands at the door of the newly built Alliance church in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. Photo courtesy of Neysa Badili

I spent three terms in Burkina Faso. Those years were enriching, rewarding, and inspiring.

The most fulfilling experiences were the relationships with the wonderful people of Burkina Faso. They were not nameless, faceless people. They became my friends and family with names, faces, stories, and delightful personalities. They were people who shared with others even out of their poverty. They taught me so much, and it was equally rewarding to see God change lives through the teaching of His Word.

During my years in Burkina Faso, I was involved in children’s ministry such as Sunday school, women’s ministry, and teaching literacy. I especially loved working with young people. I helped begin a ministry to children similar to Pioneer Girls/Boys Brigade.

I also had a “backdoor clinic” where I treated people who came to my door needing medical assistance. Disease was so prevalent that I felt compelled to do what I could to treat the sick.

Every Tribe and Nation

When we see pictures of missionaries, we generally see Caucasians ministering to black and brown people. But we must broaden our minds when it comes to God’s call. He is the One who calls, and it is no one’s job to say who can and can’t be called.

No one group has a “corner” on the mission field. Every tribe and nation should be involved. In the New Testament, much to the shock of the Jewish community, God included Gentiles in the family of God. And what a shock that God called Saul (Paul), who did not have a great reputation among believers. Yet he went on to become one of the greatest missionaries of all time.

Upon my arrival in Burkina Faso, I met a couple from another missionary organization. They were leaving for their retirement on the day I arrived. When they were introduced to me, they told me I had no right to be there. They said I would not be accepted.

While I was somewhat shocked, I ignored their reaction because I knew God had called me. Following His call upon my life has been an exciting and blessed journey.

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