It all started with a missions conference at the Wilmore Free Methodist Church in 1997 and an introduction to Mike and Vickie Reynen. We were young and excited to learn more about missions, so Mike and Vickie graciously arranged a trip to Nigeria for us, a summer that forever connected our hearts to Africa. Little did we know the path God would lead us on, one of true joy even amid significant pain and loss.
My husband, Ryan Bartlett, graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2001 and was serving as a pastor of Prescott Free Methodist Church in Arizona when we received an email from Eric (then FMWM director of mobilization) titled “The Ask.” I will never forget that day. Ryan and I instantly knew we were supposed to respond with a “Yes, Lord!” So in 2007, we moved our family of three little girls to serve at Great Commission Bible School in Malawi. We dreamed of working in Africa for the rest of our career, a dream that was tragically cut short when Ryan passed away in December 2008. But the Reynens didn’t give up. They reached out to me, encouraging me to pray about continuing ministry in Malawi. I was humbled by their willingness to invest in my life. I responded to “The Ask” once again, returning for another year of service in Malawi.
When I married my husband, Rob Keranen, in 2011 and moved back to the USA, Mike asked me if I would work for him as the Africa Area administrator, assisting him in his work as area director. It has been a privilege to see the gospel spread across the continent as more and more national pastors reach into distant places, raising up new leaders, planting new churches, and baptizing people desperate for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. During the past 10 years, I have been honored to become acquainted with missionaries who sacrificed much to serve in Africa. Some have already joined Ryan in heaven.
As I conclude my time with FMWM, my prayer is for more people to respond to “The Ask.”
Perhaps God is asking you. Whether you serve by giving, praying or going, be obedient to “The Ask” and see what the Lord can do with your humble and willing heart.