December 7, 2023
I have been thinking about Thanksgiving this past week and appreciating the life that God has given me. I grew up in rural Iowa with both of my parents and one sister. Our mother was a stay-at-home mom and excellent at taking care of us. Our father worked for the electric utilities company. I was the first person in my family to get to go to college, and I graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree and medical degree. I knew that I wanted to be a physician from the time I was 14 years of age. I practiced medicine in Iowa for 30 years and loved almost every minute of it. I learned the joy of helping people and always felt appreciated by my patients, it was my dream job and I was living out my dream.
At age 55 I was essentially at the peak of my career when God called me into full time missions.
I had some serious talks with God, my pastor, my family and many friends and seriously did not want to give up my wonderful career as a successful physician. I took a 3-month sabbatical to pray and figure out if this was really a calling from God or just some crazy dream of mine. It was during this sabbatical that I made a deal with God, I prayed to God and told him, “I will give you 2 years and if this doesn’t work out, I am going back to doing what I know and love.” I sit here now, 23 years down this incredible path and would not have missed out on this experience for anything.
Serving my patients did always bring me joy, and I was paid very well. On the mission field, I have never received a salary and the children that we are able to serve will likely never be able to return the favor. Helping these beautiful children in Africa has always brought me incredible joy. Working closely with my wife 24-7 on the African mission field has brought both of us great joy.
Now that I am getting older, I am finding even greater joy in being able to work with our son, Dustin. We have worked closely together here in South Africa for over 10 years. I have been able to mentor him and teach him so much about mission work over these many years. His gifts are different from my own, and we definitely complement each other. The greatest joy of my life is to now see his own accomplishments as a missionary as I turn the reins of our African mission work over to him and his wife. The future of Blessman International is in strong capable hands.
Recently we hosted two amazing short term mission teams and hosted a conference for a group of African missionaries working with Convoy of Hope. I especially enjoy sitting around our African campfire and sharing the African experience with our American friends.
Dustin and our construction team are currently building a new Catholic Church which will be dedicated in honor Father Ray McHenry who will be bringing his 9th consecutive mission team to serve with us here in Africa. This church has an existing congregation that has been meeting in a very small building. Dustin and the team continue to build wells, plant gardens and construct Enviro Loo toilets as well.
Dustin, Alex and Pastor Johanney will be traveling to Durban to attend the first Global Methodist Church Conference in all of South Africa. We pray that at this conference our Hope Christian church will be accepted as a new congregation with the GMC. We likely will be one of the first churches in all of South Africa to accomplish this task.