|Ken & Sarah Beckley
Marc (15), Andrew (14), Benjamin (11), Stephen (8)
Today we will continue to acquaint you with our new FBM missionaries. Ken and Sarah Beckley are currently serving the Lord in Mali with their four boys, Marc, Andrew, Benjamin, and Stephen.
Briefly share your salvation experience and your call to ministry.
Ken – I was raised in Mali – my parents served in Mali with Evangelical Baptist Missions (EBM) for 38 years. I attended elementary school at McCaba Academy boarding school in Niamey, Niger. Devotions one morning convicted me that I would go to hell if I died. After devotions, I asked my older sister how to be saved, and she helped me make that decision.
Growing up in Mali, seeing my parents’ love for the people, gave me a desire to return to Mali and continue their work. The Lord confirmed that call my senior year in high school.
Sarah – My father was in a veteran’s hospital since I was four years old. However, my mom taught me that God could be the best Father I could ever have if I put my trust in His Son Jesus who died for me. I asked Jesus to be my Savior at the age of 5 in the privacy of my bedroom. Through the influence of many missionaries who came through our church and home, at a young age, I was burdened for lost people. My sophomore year in Bible college, knowing God was calling me to serve Him, I gave Him my life for missionary service.
What did you do before you were a missionary?
Ken – I attended Piedmont Baptist College in NC, where I majored in Missions. After graduation, I served a one-year internship in my home church, Bethel Baptist in Vestal, NY. The following summer I attended EBM’s candidate classes, and was on my way to Mali!
Sarah – After attending Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania, I worked as a bank teller for one year while applying to ABWE. I served an internship in a church in Margate, FL. and also acquired my Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, while awaiting a work permit to Kenya.
Tell us about your current ministry. Where are you and what are you doing?
Ken – We are serving in the small village of Guéné, in northern Bénin. We are assisting with the translation of the Bible into the Dendi language, as well as pastoring a small church in the town of Malanville.
Sarah – I am homeschooling our four sons. When in Niger last year, I enjoyed teaching a ladies’ Bible study at the national church we attended. Now in Benin, we are learning the differences between the languages of Mali, Niger, and Benin, and seeking to serve the nationals and missionaries in whatever opportunities God gives.
How long have you been serving as a missionary?
Ken – I joined EBM in 1985, and began my ministry in Mali in 1990. My first term I served in the town of Timbuktu as a single missionary, helping in all the various ministries of the local church there.
Sarah – I joined the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) in 1985. In the early 90s, I served one year at an MK school in Portugal and one term in Kenya with a church planting team in Nairobi.
Ken & Sarah – In February 1994, during our first furloughs, we met at a missions conference at a mutually supporting church. Ken proposed in July, we were married in August, and in September we left for our next term in Mali!
For the next 15 years, we served the town of Diré, about 80 miles beyond Timbuktu! There we were involved in Bible translation and church planting. Because of problems of insecurity in the north of Mali, since 2011 we have been working in northern Bénin with the Ovenells, doing the same kinds of ministries we had in Mali.
What does a typical day look like for you while you are on the field?
Ken – No such creature exists!
Personal devotions, breakfast, and family devotions are usually done by 8am. Then I do Bible class with our boys, and help with Math if they need it. Ideally, I would spend the rest of the morning working on translation projects with our national translators, or on message preparation. In the afternoons, I try to concentrate on e-mails, financial records, and additional editing of translation projects I can do on my own. However, maintenance issues, other projects, and family matters quite often blow this plan to smithereens!
Sarah – Homeschooling 4 boys can sometimes go from 8:30 to 4:00. Often people come to the door; there are meals to prepare from scratch, …
As you reflect on the years you have spent as a missionary, please share with us some of the highlights of your ministry.
Ken – Working closely with our Malian church leaders, training them to continue the work in our absence. Making the Word of God available to the unreached Songhai and Dendi in their heart language, through print as well as multi-media resources.
Sarah – teaching Bible and literacy to women, coming to the end of a primer and hearing one woman testify of her recent faith in Jesus. After years of befriending a hostile, cynical wife of a Songhai Bible translator, I see her graduate from Bible school and hear that she first understood the Gift of God through our Bible memory classes.
What have been some of the biggest challenges that you have faced on the field?
Ken – The ingrained Muslim ideology of the local people, and the cultural pressure to conform and not change religions. Not getting frustrated or discouraged by the lack of visible results or progress in our various ministries.
Sarah – not knowing how much and when to give to the many daily beggars that came to us. Learning to trust God with the health of my children when we are hours away from reliable medical help
What person(s) has had the biggest influence on your life?
Ken – My parents, for modeling a ministry of genuine love and incredible patience in the face of incomprehensible cultures, intractable people, and an insufferable climate!
Sarah – A missionary family who invited me to travel with them on their home assignment, during tenth grade summer vacation. My mother’s hospitality and her love for missions, brought into our home many missionaries who influenced me. My youth pastor whose passion for serving God was contagious.
What would you say to encourage others (young or old) to consider full-time missions as a profession?
1) Think about the three things you most love spending your time doing. Without much effort, you will find a missionary who would love to have someone with at least one of those skills – and possibly all three – working at his side! I challenge you to check it out!
2) Why is it that 2000 years after Jesus, with all our churches, technology, and wealth in America, 2 billion people have still not heard the Gospel, while 90% of our missionaries are going to already evangelized people groups?
Sarah –There’s no greater joy than to know you are in the center of God’s will. “The will of God will never lead you, where the grace of God cannot keep you” (Dr. Billy Martin). I’ve found that to be so true in my life.
Please share some specific prayer requests with us.
· Wisdom in prioritizing ministry, tasks, and family, giving each their proper amount of time and energy.
· Balancing homeschooling of 4 boys with other ministry demands.
· Strength, good health and protection in daily 100+ temperatures, with snakes, scorpions, malaria, etc. a daily concern.
· Wisdom to make the best education choices for our children
What are some current needs that you have and what can we do to help meet those needs?
With no electricity here, we are trying to “get a handle” on working with solar power. We still don’t understand all the vagaries involved, and could use some expert advice in some areas!
Meet Some of Our Other FBM Missionaries:
- Kathy Miller
- Tim & Janice Phillips (part 1)
- Tim & Janice Phillips (part 2)
- Ken & Sarah Beckley
- Cindy Faile