Serving in youth ministry and leadership development in Mali.
Tom and Lisa Seward’s early involvement in youth work ultimately propelled them into missions. They applied for overseas service with WorldVenture, and were appointed to serve in Cote d’Ivoire. They spent four-and-a-half years working on learning the language, serving in the local church and studying the culture of West Africa. They also served as dorm parents at the MK school, International Christian Academy. Tom spent many evenings conversing with university students over tea, answering questions about his faith and culture. Both Tom and Lisa reveled in their opportunity to work with youth from a local church. “What a joy to have 40 students in our home, praising the Lord in multiple languages,” says Lisa.
When the civil war came to Cote d’Ivoire, Tom and Lisa were in the States on home assignment. “We were discouraged because we had such an opportunity to work with African youth in Cote d’Ivoire, and the war made it dangerous to return with a family.” But God had more plans for the Sewards.
In 2005, God opened the door for the Sewards to return to West Africa, to work with youth. The Sewards moved to Kadiolo, Mali, a small town near the border of Cote d’Ivoire. They continue to work with youth, and have opened a study room in a public bus station area to make even more contacts with youth who would not come to a church service or youth meeting.
“The surprise God had for us,” Tom says, “was the amount of people we knew and worked with in Cote d’Ivoire who are here in Kadiolo with us. It really provided continuity for our ministry that we knew people here well even before we came.” With the help of these solid Christian friends, the Sewards hope to train and impact youth in this region. Because of the war in Cote d’Ivoire, schools have been inaccessible, closed in many cases. This has brought Ivoirian youth to their doorstep. The Sewards are able to work with youth who will return to many different regions in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. The Sewards are excited about these students who will return to their homes on fire for Christ.
Also, Lisa has become involved in women’s ministry in Kadiolo. She and Pastor Youssouf have started a literacy program for the church ladies, so that next year they can take part in correspondence Bible courses in their own language.
Tom and Lisa now plan to continue their work with Kadiolo area pastors and youth. They foresee involvement in camp ministry, youth meetings, Bible clubs, evangelism campaigns, individual discipleship and leadership development.