God Had Other Plans

wp-images1By Dr. Randall (Randy) and Deanna Harrison, serving at West Africa Alliance Theological Seminary (FATEAC), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

The following is an adapted excerpt from the Harrison’s recent update.

Every one of our precious FATEAC students has a story. We wish you could get to know them all. Since that’s not possible, we’d like to share one couple’s story to give you a better idea of the exceptional men and women training here to minister throughout French-speaking Africa.

The Best Laid Plans . . . 

Around 20 years ago a young Burkinabe boy was enrolled in a school for the followers of his country’s majority religion. The boy’s father had high hopes that his son, Fabé, would eventually become a great leader for their faith. But God had other plans.

A strong-willed uncle had more down-to-earth ideas for the promising young student; he transferred him to another school that offered a more general education. Fabé continued his studies and grew up a devout follower of his family’s faith.

Because of his excellent understanding of the French language and his community’s ethnic Dzuundo (a dialect of the Mande language), Fabé was later hired by a team of Mennonite missionaries who were translating the Bible into Dzuundo. He ended up studying the Bible for a living.

New Life

Between innumerable hours spent in the Word, the testimony of his Mennonite colleagues, and the drawing of the Holy Spirit, Fabé found the Lord and his life was changed forever. He entered the ministry and began serving the Lord with zeal and humility. And he married a lovely young woman, Rebecca—daughter of the first known evangelical believer among the Sicite people in Burkina Faso’s Kenedougou province. 

Fabé and Rebecca left their native Burkina to attend FATEAC in Côte d’Ivoire. They showed up with their small family, a little shy and overwhelmed. Fabé worked hard in the master’s program, and Rebecca entered the Women’s Academy.

A head taller than most of his classmates, Fabé became known for his humble service to others. I remember the first time I (Deanna) had Rebecca in class. She wasn’t confident in her reading and writing skills. But by her senior year she was a leader on campus and chosen to be class president of the Women’s Academy.

At the close of this academic year, Fabé defended his master’s thesis. (This is an in-depth research project culminating four years of studying on a theological, biblical, pastoral, or translation subject.) Thesis defense is done in public, before a jury, with invited friends, professors, fellow students, family members and pastors present. Denomination leaders often show up.

Senior Year and a Civil War

Some students invite their (African-style) church choirs. It’s quite the experience. (We should also mention that this has been a particularly challenging year for the seniors because they had to write their master’s theses during a civil war!) Defenses can last more than four hours.

Fabé did a study on the word “covenant” in the Old Testament and its meaning for his ethnic group in Burkina Faso to suggest guidelines for translating this important biblical concept into his native language.

It’s so amazing to witness what comes up in biblical studies in Africa. For example, when you’ve heard teaching on the concept of “covenant”, have you ever been given an example of two families drinking their co-mingled blood to seal a covenant!? Fabé shared this scenario to illustrate his ethnic group’s understanding of that word. He got through his thesis defense with flying colors.

Now he and Rebecca are back in Burkina, continuing in Bible translation and church ministry. We miss them.

We could go on and on, sharing stories about other students. But we’ll just ask you to pray for all of them. While you’re at it, pray for us as we teach and learn from these brothers and sisters in the Lord. God is doing great things in Africa, and we are grateful to be a part of it.

One More Thing You Can Do

Give to Alliance Great Commission Ministries. In doing so you partner with Alliance workers, like the Harrisons, to spread the good news in regions of the world where many people are desperate for the good news, including French-speaking West Africa.


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