I was named after my great grandmother Anna May Bixby, who at the age of five, became a orphan. She and her younger twin sisters grew up in a harsh institution. Yet, as an adult, she was known for feeding tramps, for greeting everyone that came into her home with a enthusiastic hug, for loving to laugh and sing, and… (you guessed it) African babies. She defied the prejudice of society and just loved people. I was not fully aware of this background, but at the age of 22, when I announced to my grandfather (her son), that I had seen a performance of the African Children’s Choir and felt so compelled to go on a short-term mission to serve in South Africa; he just smiled.
In 2003, my three week mission trip to South Africa turned into a six weeks because I was asked to extend my ticket briefly to prepare for a group of doctors coming to serve some of our orphans’ families twenty-seven hours north in the rural Nkomazi district. It was a life altering experience as HIV was no longer just lingo, but a face, a name,…a precious life. Upon my return from the field, in spite of many noble attempts; I could not get a seat on an international flight home. During my unplanned extended stay in South Africa, I was asked to nurse the recent group of children that had just come from the rural villages. I quickly found myself with maternal feelings for these children. However, I refused to acknowledge these feelings because I did not want to lose my dream job back home. I wrestled with God and the struggle intensified until and one morning, I finally surrendered to God all my plans and dreams. On my knees on a cold cement floor, I made a commitment to do whatever He asked of me. I, then randomly opened my Bible to the passage of Jesus talking to the rich man saying, “Sell all you have and follow me”. Hours later, I was given a seat on a international fight home, and within three weeks I had been interviewed and accepted to volunteer as a tour manager for the African Children’s Choir. I spent 2 ½ years touring with children from five different African countries throughout North America and Europe. Through this adventure, I was given seventy-two choir children and ten teenagers that I fell in love with and adopted in my heart.
After tour, I was thinking God would allow me to rest and return home to Montana. Within two months after tour, I was now being asked to go back to the rural villages of Nkomzi, South Africa, where it all began, to assist in setting up a boarding school for the kids I had first begun working with. I lived in this rural district of South Africa for two years, and assisted in establishing outreach in 17 different villages struggling with the impact of HIV/AIDS. Long story short, ministry opportunities exploded and I was privileged to witness God use youth and young adults do incredible work reaching thousands of lives through gardens, buildings, camps, after-school programs, and medical care. Many of these dear youth have now grown, some exercising their faith by starting missions of their own, some are transitioning to high school and others are successful senior graduates eligible for university. Many are hungry to use their talents to serve and are waiting for an opportunity.
The Hope of Africa is about helping youth reach their God-given potential, based on the mandates of Jesus, “care for widows and orphans and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world” (James 1:27) and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 20:27). These mandates are not just the hope of Africa, but the hope of the world. Our organization wishes to partner with young adults we have personally known for years that are living out these Biblical mandates. We believe they have great ability and want to see them achieve their God-given potential. Each year we will highlight groups and individuals that could use partnership to reach their full potential to impact their communities and create sustainability for their grassroots projects. The African young adults we have chosen to partner with are individuals I have served alongside of and lived with on a daily basis. It is my hope and prayer you will join our family, and that their lives will also inspire you with courage to reach your God-given potential. We welcome you with open arms, and pray you will join the amazing work happening in Africa through youth who are passionate to give their time, talent, and treasure to God. Their message of Christ’s love is exemplified by their actions; they are His hands and feet, and truly their life’s message is the Hope of Africa.
Thank you in advance for all those that will choose to partner with us and join this family! As they say in Kenya as you enter one’s home, ‘Karibu’, you are welcome.