a calling to the mission field
Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the plans I have for you, “ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”.
We probably never really understood the full meaning of this scripture until a few years ago when we were challenged to follow His calling back to Africa. I, Mark began my love for Africa in 1971 when I travelled there with a friend who had grown up on the mission field of Congo. My friend was returning to Africa after going to Westmont College, to join his parents on the field. Along with another very good friend, we travelled to Africa for the adventure of our lives. Our first day, in Nairobi, Kenya our friend returning to Africa was killed in a motorcycle accident which of course, left the other two of us devastated. We continued this trip for another 6 weeks and everything we experienced helped to develop in me a love for Africa; the people, the land, the cultures, the animals, the food, etc. This love was so strong that I returned in 1973 and spent most of a year in East Africa.
During that year in Africa, I planned to return and start a business with a good friend, but that was my plan, and now when I read Jeremiah 29:11 it does not state that He wants us to have our “own” plans for our lives, but, His plan is what we live for. In 1975 I met Tina, fell in love, we married, we started our family, started a business and my plans for Africa just kept getting further and further from reality.
However, the desire to return there was just as strong, and twice in our early years, we tried to go to Africa on short-term missions. Both times, we had something that kept us from being able to go, so we resigned ourselves to the fact that one day, when we were retired we would be able to travel and work in Africa. This was “our” plan.
Everything started to change one Sunday morning in March of 2006, when the global outreach pastor of our church, Christ Community Church of Greeley, CO (CCC) told the congregation of a new multi-initiative missions plan. One of these missions was to start a work in Kenya, working with children. My heart was beating faster than I could imagine, and my wife could not even look at me as she knew how this was touching my heart. Through 2006 and 2007 we visited Kenya and started to plan the strategy for our work there, purchasing land and defining our ministry. We joined forces with Christian Mission Aid (CMA), a mission that has been in Kenya for 25 years. After much prayer and soul searching it was decided that we needed to build a rescue center for young girls who are suffering from the abuse of early, forced marriages and female genital mutilation. These young girls have no where to turn for help. In 2008 we took a team of 30 to work among the Maasai people, doing sport camps, women’s ministry, and construction. It was during this two week mission’s trip that we started to feel a call to full-time missions. It was so overwhelming that we could not stop thinking about it all the time.
Over the next three months, Tina and I were so unsettled in our lives, as we could not stop thinking of the situation that the young girls were living in. Our hearts were truly broken for them, and God used that brokenness to change our lives forever. After a lot of counseling with friends and our pastoral staff, we decided that to turn our backs would have been a disobedience to His calling for us. The church in their support of this calling created a position for me as Director of African Development and we were on our way. This has been a real test of faith as we are responsible to raise our own support, but the Lord has been faithful to His promises, and we are seeing His hand in everything that we do.
Construction on the center began in March of 2009 and we started to rescue the first girls that summer. Within the first few months, we rescued 20 girls ranging in age from 10-16 who were to be married to men as old as into their late 70’s. The stories of these girls transformation from frightened, abused girls who would have been forced to leave school, leave their dreams behind to become the confident, joyful young ladies that they are could only take place with the help of the Lord.
To date, we have rescued 40 young girls, some literally at the 11th hour prior to their being sold by their fathers. With CMA’s administrative assistance and CCC’s facilitating, these 40 young girls will be able to complete their schooling, get the physical and emotional help they need, live in a home that is filled with love, and learn life skills that will assist them in all facets of life.
Now when we read Jeremiah 29:11, we read it with a different understanding. Years ago, the plans that we had were our plans. Although our intent was to serve the Lord, it was not in His timing or His place. Looking back at our lives now the experiences of our lives as we look back now were all part of the preparation for what He is asking us to do.
We truly have never worked harder but have never enjoyed life more than we are now. God is blessing us, and He is proving to us that He is our hope and future every day.
As Director of African Development for CCC, I am responsible for the church’s projects in Africa. Tina’s job is to organize and plan for the transition of the girls as they finish secondary school and continue the education or as they transition back into society. The work in Kenya now includes the rescue center, sport ministry, medical and vision ministry, men’s and women’s seminars, family seminars, VBS, famine relief, water and sanitation ministries, and pastoral training. We also have a work in western Uganda where we have a primary school, a medical clinic, and also do water ministry, sport ministry and family seminars, and pastoral training with the Church of Uganda. We are eager to see where the Lord takes us next. We are ready, our bags are always packed!
HOW WE HELP…
If you would like to help support us financially in the work we do in Kenya, choose "Hagen Support" as your area of interest when you
We are humbled and so thankful for your encouragement!