Mar 6 – Seeing Burkina Faso

I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.

One word that I pondered while in Burkina Faso is “enough.” What is enough? 

We have such different ideas of “enough,” me and the Burkinabe. What is “enough” for me might seem quite overwhelming to them. What could be “enough” for them seems, in my opinion, to barely scrape the surface.


This tree stands in the center of the Bible school. Here women gather to pound their corn with the mortar & pestles under the trees.

We spent two days at a Bible school in the village of Pondou. This is a place where men called into the ministry come to be trained. Before arriving here, they spend three years in literacy school, as they more than likely have had no schooling and cannot read. Then they spend four years being educated on the Bible and taught how to pastor. It costs them about $60 a year for their tuition. They are able to bring their wives and children and are also required to bring their own food for the term. When they’re not at school, they are back home planting cultivating and harvesting their crops so they have this to bring with them.

Some of the families living at the Bible school.

Some of the families living at the Bible school.

One night, as we were getting ready to call it a night and settle into our cots, a woman showed up in our camp. It was already dark yet in the moonlight we could see her approaching us. I believe she was pregnant. Dee Dee Sterling, our Clay Church missionary living there (here’s a great video to hear her story), was able to figure out that she was asking for some help. We immediately asked John Arnold to help translate (you can learn a little bit about John and his wife, missionaries for Engage Burkina, here).

What we found out was that she and her husband had run out of food. And there were still two months left. They were from a village up north, near Mali, so a trip home for assistance was not an option. She was wanting some help.

The view from our camp, early in the mornings.

The view from our camp, early in the mornings.

In my mind, I could quickly and easily come up with a shopping list of what it would take to feed my boys for the next two months. They’re pretty active, growing, and always seem to be hungry. My list might be enough. It probably would not. They always seem to be standing in front of the pantry asking, “What can I eat?” You never know with them how much will fill them up. You never know how much will be enough.

It turns out that, when asked, “What would be helpful?” the woman answered, “We could use a bag of corn.”

A bag of corn. That was going to be enough.

We learned the next morning that there is a system in place at the school for students who need help, assistance, etc. This woman could have gone to a leader there. She really should have gone to a leader there. But she came to us instead. This happened on Sunday evening. Sunday was a long and busy day for our team. I’ll share more on that in the next few posts, but this woman must have seen something in us that day that said we’d help her. She must have seen something that told her that we’d have compassion. She must have seen something in us that made her feel safe coming to us.

I think she saw the help, the compassion, the safety, and the love of Jesus Christ in us. And that’s enough for me.

About Karen Grant

Children's Minister - FaithWorks! is the children's ministry of Clay Church in South Bend, Indiana.
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