I’m so thrilled to announce that Dr. and Mrs. Bryan Stensaas will be joining our missions faculty at West Coast Baptist College.
Our church began supporting Bryan and Cheri as missionaries in Africa many years ago, and I was always encouraged to read their reports. Their letters were full of stories of people saved, churches planted, training national pastors and workers, and pioneering new villages with the gospel.
When the Stensaases would return to the States for furlough, Bryan and I enjoyed great fellowship, and he was always eager to tell about what God was doing in Uganda.
Unbeknownst to me, Bryan began developing neuropathy in his feet several years ago. This is a painful disease for anyone, but for a missionary who is constantly hiking jungle trails, it’s severely limiting.
For some years, Bryan pushed through the pain, but over time, the neuropathy became increasingly hindering of his work—so much so that just before Bryan and Cheri left the States after their most recent furlough, they had come to the prayerful and painful decision that this would have to be their last term in Africa.
About the same time that the Stensaases were wrestling through that decision, the Lord began stirring my heart to ask them to teach missions at West Coast Baptist College. I, too, hesitated in making a decision. On one hand, I wanted to ask because their three decades of fruitful missions experience would be incredibly useful to our students. On the other hand, the Lord was so greatly using their work in Uganda that I was cautious to ask them to come to California. Yet, I couldn’t get away from the sense that God was prompting me to ask. Finally, after much prayer, I called Bryan simply to express that if the Lord would allow them to discuss coming to teach some missions classes, we would be honored.
As it turned out, my call to Bryan came two weeks after he and Cheri had realized that their full-time labor in Africa was coming to a close. We both saw the Lord’s hand in the timing of our respective decisions.
Over the next months, we counseled with others (including, of course, Bryan and Cheri’s pastor), talked with each other, and sensed God’s leading every step of the way.
Because we are currently working through a process of seeing WCBC accredited through TRACS (which you can read about here), I knew in the back of my mind that we need to be conscious to hire instructors with accredited Masters degrees. And yet, I also knew in my spirit that Bryan is a missionary with the anointing of God on his life and ministry—which, in the work of the Lord, means far more than an earned degree. I made the decision to hire him based on his calling, experience, and God’s leading.
As we finished our final interview, however, and after I told Bryan that we wanted him and Cheri to come, only then, did he mention “in case it helps you to know” that he has an accredited Ph.D. in education. I’m excited for how Bryan’s experience on the field will help train missions students and how his prior degrees will help them gain accredited degrees, allowing entry into “closed” or “creative access” countries.
Last week, I got to share this story, culminating in the announcement the Stensaases are coming to WCBC, with our church family during our annual Missions Conference. We’re so excited that the Stensaases will begin teaching in the fall semester of 2016. I’m honored that they would come and am especially excited for our missions students. The Stensaas’ decades of experience on multiple mission fields, including twenty-one years in a jungle, pioneer-type work, will be invaluable to WCBC students preparing for missions work.
The Stensaases will still make trips to Africa for training national pastors, especially over the next two years as they fully transition the ministry to national leadership. These will be opportunities for students from WCBC to gain exposure to the mission field and see first-hand the labor and fruit of missions.
In recent days, I’ve thought much about the blessings of God’s guidance and provision as we serve Him. When we began WCBC over twenty years ago, we had nothing but the conviction that God was leading us. Over the years, God has provided everything—including a team of, in my opinion, the greatest faculty in the world. We’re so thankful to add the Stensasses to our team.