This story begins in 1999, the year I became a follower of Jesus after realizing most of my life had been spent on selfish pursuits. After a 14 year career in law enforcement, I left rural Arkansas and moved to Kansas City with my wife and daughter to prepare for life and ministry overseas. While in Kansas City, I worked several part-time jobs that included the privilege of pastoring a small inner city church in the northeast. 

Early one winter morning, I arrived at the church to find two families waiting on our steps in frigid temperatures. I greeted them, but it was evident they couldn't speak English, not even basic greetings. The leader of the group handed me a letter explaining they were refugees from the African country of Burundi. I knew immediatly that God had providentially crossed our paths. He was calling us to overcome the language barriers and love these families. I called a friend who could speak their heart language of Swahili and asked her to communicate a simple message to the families still standing on our steps...they were welcome at our church. By God's grace, a relationship began that still continues today. 

God was teaching us that language barriers are worth overcoming for the sake of the Gospel. 

In 2008, I found myself in West Africa, a goal that became a reality after many years of waiting. Because of corruption, wars, and other difficulties common to the region, my family and I lived in Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Ghana over a four year period. It was in Ghana that God would change the course of our life's work; it was here that we met Baraka. 

Baraka, an elderly Hausa lady who was raised in the Islamic faith, lived in the slums of Accra. Since Baraka could only speak her heart language of Hausa, my wife and I began a relationship with her that was not unlike the Burundi families back in Kansas City. We used everything in our cultural tool box to break down the language barriers and build a relationship. We also knew if Baraka was going to hear about Jesus, she would have to hear in her heart language of Hausa. With an upcoming furlough to America, we knew we could make this happen. Plans were made, we would return to Ghana with an audio bible in Baraka's heart language. 

The day came to travel back to America for our furlough, so I stopped by to say one last good-bye to Baraka and her family. I found Baraka very sick lying in the corner of a dark room, unconscious and unable to speak. I really didn't know what to do...but taking Baraka's hand, I sat on the floor and I prayed.

I prayed the gospel out loud, somehow hoping God would allow her to understand...that's how I left Africa. 

Four days later, Baraka died.

While heartbreaking, God used the story you just read to redirect my focus in reaching others with the gospel. I began to research how many others were like my friend Baraka. How many others are living in oral cultures still waiting to hear about Jesus in a language they understand? 

The numbers were staggering. 

This was in 2012, the beginning of E-Tech Missions.