Linda’s thoughts after year in Burkina Faso… Now Headed Back…

September 25, 2012

It was God’s mission for me to follow Him to Burkina Faso, Africa.  He wanted me to work with the teachers who teach students with hearing loss.  It was a challenge because I had to learn French Sign Language along with American Sign Language.  I always carried my French dictionary book with me because there was conflict with English and French words even they spelled the same way but they meant something different.  I enjoyed being with the students.  They never forget your faces from the year before or five years before.  They even remembered their names that came to visit the school of the deaf.  No matter how much the students struggled with the language, they were happy.  I was amazed that the teachers had to copy from the textbook onto the chalkboard using chalks and then the students copied it to their notebooks.  I was not sure if you remembered those days when teachers used chalks and hardly used any worksheets.  We had to memorize everything.  I felt that I was reliving in the 60’s and 70’s.  They are about 50 years behind.  It was worth living in Burkina Faso for a year.  They had family values such as living together, doing things, and helping together.  They celebrated birthdays to live, not gifts.  It was a big deal for them.  Each year, they made it through tough times.  I got sick and was not able to go to school.  Teachers would come over to my house to give me a bag of bananas and mangos.  It was the sweetest thing.  It’s sad that we text to say hope you feel better or get well.  I am going back to Burkina Faso for two months to help with the school of the deaf and also deaf community.  I will move to Benin to train teachers and involved with the deaf ministry for four months.

Linda Ellis

Your support of Linda’s incredible brave journey is greatly appreciated… you can support Linda with prayers and financial support.

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | No Comments

Advocate Linda Ellis in Benin

June 11, 2012


I went to visit the deaf Christian private school in Benin.   They have about 45 students.  Only 2nd/3rd graders and 4th/5th graders are combined into one classroom because of lack of teachers of the deaf.  Most of the students do wear hearing aids.  Some students live at the school because the school is too far from their home.  They go home on weekends.  Bottom middle picture, this teacher is deaf and is teaching first grade.  They use workbooks, not like Burkina Faso deaf school.  Their signing is a little different than Burkina Faso, but I was able to catch on to what they were signing about.

Stilt Museum

This is the place where the African slaves were caught by the King.  The first picture upper left, once you go through that, you don’t come back.  They were sent to America or other countries.  Bottom last picture is where the slaves were sold.  David and I took a motorcycle taxi.  I’m wading in the water.  Gosh, the water is so warm.  Quote John 1:16 said “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”  It was very interesting.

Stilt Village

This place is very unique.  It takes about twenty minutes to row from the city to the village and vice versa.  It costs around a dollar each way.  Bottom middle picture is where the people from the village work in the city and others pick up fruits and vegetables to sell in the village.  Top middle: his name is David.  He is my friend and also a translator.  He is learning English and did his best to interpret for me.  He also works with Pastor Lucien and Pastor Josque.  Top right:  People can only live their house for 15 years and then have to move out because the stilts get weaker.  They have to build a new house.  Bottom left and second row middle:  The children go and get water.  You can see the water containers in their boat.  Middle right:  I would like to challenge any of you to stay for a few days in this motel????  They have a hospital, a school, churches, and a souvenir store.  Many people fish on the lake.

Two presentations

First picture on the left is Pastor Lucien who is my friend and a translator.  I had unexpected presentations to give in Pakatou and Benin.  First, Pastor Lucien and I took an 8 hour bus ride to Pakatou for two days.  Before my trip, Pastor Josque asked me if I would talk to one of the pastors.  I said sure, no problem.  Anyway, about 2 miles before we arrived to Pakatou, we had a flat tire.  Pastor Lucien was able to contact his friend to pick us up.

When we arrived, Pastor Lucien asked me if I’m ready to give a presentation for the next day.  I said, “What presentation?”  Lucien said, “Didn’t Pastor Josque tells you?”  I’m like, “Well he said just to talk, but not presentation.”  I had to give a presentation about deaf ministry in Africa for one hour.  You all know me that I don’t do well giving a presentation.  I was in a nervous wreck!!!  Here I am with no information about this town and am writing about the deaf missionary on the PowerPoint.  There was no time for Pastor Lucien to look it over.  I sure prayed and asked God to replace my nervousness with confidence.  Pastor Lucien called me to give the presentation.  My heart was beating so fast.  When I started speaking, I felt so relaxed and was able to focus.  I was talking about how important it is for the deaf/hard of hearing and other challenged people to be involved in the church.  My quote was God gave us deaf/hh and other challenged people as a gift to teach you to accept, socialize and to have patience.  I was so proud of myself and so happy.

We came back to Benin that night.  David came over to see if I finished my other presentation.  Again, I said “What presentation?” “Didn’t Pastor Josque tell you?”  He said to talk, not the presentation.  What was I supposed to talk about?  He said toilet training.  I’m like, “Are you kidding? The children pee and poop anywhere they like to. They have no routines, and also many families do not have toilets in their homes, so how am I supposed to help these African moms?”  Pastor Lucien and David just smiled and said that they were leaving me and would see me in the morning.  It was 8 pm and I didn’t finish it till midnight.  I was going crazy trying to write.  Again, I had no information or clue what parents did for their child’s toilet training.  I had to brainstorm and imagine as if I was an African mom.  Pastor Lucien and David didn’t have to time to look it over.

We arrived and there were 30 ladies from the Women’s Group of the Church.  This was my biggest challenge of all.  Pastor Lucien translated into French and David translated into a local language.  Here I go.  One of the moms mentioned that most of the families do not have toilets in their homes.  I told them I was aware that they do not have toilets in their homes, but you can be creative how to toilet train your child.  Guess what? They loved it and want me to come back to talk about other things.  The quote I gave them was Proverb 22:6.

That week was amazing.  I had change to become more confident in myself.  Pastor Josque, Pastor Lucien, and David kept me very busy.  I thanked them for giving me the chance to get the experience in their ministry.   Isn’t God awesome???  I really had a great time in Benin.

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | No Comments

Please do not miss – - The Global Leadership Summit- August 9th and 10th

April 21, 2012

The Global Leadership Summit exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development and inspiration for the sake of the local church.

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | No Comments

We are moving forward to help the people of Burkina Faso by requesting a $12.00 per month Donation…

February 21, 2012

We hope that you and your family are under God’s grace…

This last November, a group from Grace Chapel visited and assisted in finishing an all purpose room at The Ephphatha School for the deaf in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The room was a vision of Pastor Michel’s over 5 years ago and finally is in the last stage of completion after construction started over three years ago.

We are writing you today to start on the next part of the journey by raising monthly funds to sustain these schools. We spoke about how we can help Pastor Michel and Lydia work through the constant stress of providing for 180 students at the deaf school and 480 students at the Village of Hope.

The cause is so important, to help create a community of leaders in West Africa. We have tried other methods to partner with other ministries but this part has not come together. It is time for us to reach out to lift this burden from Pastor Michel and Lydia. We are asking you to sign up and give $12.00 per month to help feed the children and pay the teachers salaries.

We have an AHI advocate on the ground in Ouagadougou, Linda Ellis. Linda is going to interview each student, take a picture and send an outline about the student to each person who donates.

Please consider today sponsoring one or two students on an annual basis. Please go to and click on make a contribution, and then use the drag on menu to reach Ephphatha School for the Deaf .Giving on-line is the most cost effective way to get the most money to these children.

Please reach out to anyone you think would be interested in helping. We would be very interested if you would join us as advocates to help make this a success. Please let us know.

We are grateful for all you do in God’s name and for the benefit of the less fortunate.

In His Name and for his glory,

Dave Bidwell and Bill Walsh

Co- Founders

African Hope Initiative

Po Box 631324

Littleton, CO  80163

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Year in review…

November 9, 2011

In God We Trust

” Jesus answered, it is written Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God”

Matthew 4:4

Trusting as 2011 comes closer to the end that you have had a great year with your family and friends.  We have been very busy this year and had the pleasure of having Pastor Michel and his wife Lydia from Burkina Faso visit the United States for a month. Just before the Pastor arrived Julie and I were in Alabama visiting Allie our daughter. Our timing was not exactly great as we arrived the day that 25 tornadoes crossed the state causing great destruction. We hid in a basement as two tornadoes went right over the house but did not touchdown.The next day we received a call from a member of our church that knew we were visiting Alabama and long story made short, 15 people from our church headed to Pell City, Al to help with the cleanup. When Pastor Michel heard of the destruction, he asked if he could go and help. He said that we always help him and his people when there was a problem, and he wanted to help. He also called his son-in law in Burkina Faso and asked him to go out to the village that we had helped in the past. This village was very remote and the people lived in mud huts with virtually no service. They basically lived day to day. The pastor wanted them to raise $50 to give to a community in Alabama.

Several days later we headed to Alabama with Pastor Michel to hook up with our friends and also with Allison’s church New Hope Baptist Church in Pell City, Al who graciously welcomed us with open arms and hosted us at their church where we slept and were  fed every evening.

Pastor Paul & Pastor Michel

We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and that evening Pastor Michel was asked to address the congregation along with senior Pastor of New Hope Paul Brasher. That evening Pastor Michel presented the$50 from Village Bankan in Burkina Faso. As I am sure you can appreciate that was a very moving moment on many levels. The following morning we headed out early to help with cleanup. Our friends had been working on small ranch in Shoal Creek Valley that had been hit very hard. The destruction is hard to explain but the 20 acres were pretty much wiped out. They were lucky to be alive. This is very hard physical work and it was very hot. The owner of the property was John Russell and he was amazed that we were there from Colorado and also the pastor was from West Africa. John was not a man of great means and lived on the property with his wife and mother and father in-law. Her mother and fathers home was totally destroyed along with several other structures. A tree fell through the back of the main house.

John Russell's Property

“The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say here it is or there it is, because the kingdom of God is within you”

Luke 17:20-21

John’s wife was somewhat in shock and did not come out of the house, for more than a week. One morning several days later she came out and asked if the Pastor was really from Africa.

We explained that the village Bankan had sent $50 and that it was a very poor village. She was very overcome with emotion and went back in the house. Later that day when we stopped for water and she appeared on the porch with her 80 year old mother and presented the pastor with $200. She also explained that they had stopped going to church and that they would now be going to church again and that they would be sending more money to the pastor and telling everyone at church what had happened for them.

Neil Holsteen, John Russell & Pastor Michel

We headed back to Colorado to get back to visiting with as many people in the community as possible with Pastor Michel to solicit support for The Light of Hope University. Several weeks later Calvin Hemphill the founder of the Gemach Project and I headed off to Joplin, Missouri to help with cleanup after the horrible tornado that totally destroyed over 4000 homes. It looked like an Atomic bomb went off. Our church is now working on gathering a team to be disaster trained and ready to more formally respond in the future.

Joplin, Missouri - Total destruction

” Rise up o’God judge the earth, for all nations are your inheritance”

Psalm 82


Linda Ellis in Burkina Faso

In June, Dave  and Eileen Bidwell of African Hope Initiative (AHI) escorted Linda Ellis a AHI Advocate to Ouagadougou where she has committed to living for at least a year.Linda is deaf and went on the missions trip to Ouagadougou last November to work at  the Ephphatha school for the deaf and was overwhelmed by the warmth of  the people and the deaf children. She decided she wanted to do more and totally turned her life upside down and moved. Linda is getting acclimated and is working at the deaf school.  She also recently announced she was buying a scooter to get around. Those of you who have traveled to West Africa know what that means….Total chaos on the road. Please put Linda on your prayer list for safe travels on her scooter.   Eileen and Dave continued on for several more weeks with a trip to Niger and Benin, visiting partners of AHI.

Deaf School Classroom

This week there are 10 men from Grace Chapel who are visiting Burkina Faso . They have raised the money to finish an all purpose room at Ephphatha school for the deaf and will spend most of their time on construction. There is also group within this group who have been trained to fix water well pumps and a several men who will work at the Pastors church updating and fixing their sound system.

In addition, plans have been approved for the addition of a maternity ward at the Source of Life medical clinic and efforts are being made now to begin fundraising.

Our partnership with Community Bible Study International (CSBI) continues to flourish and more than  2000 pastors have already been trained. Discussions have begun to introduce a children’s program and also to start planning on training pastors in Niger. Also  members of Grace Chapel Lisa and Jason Bye have joined with CSBI and have recently returned from a trip to Burkina.

2011 planning has begun and planning for Christian Leadership training has also begun with the hope an exploratory team will advance the program by January.

“May the whole earth be filled with his glory”

Psalm 72

We will also begin a monthly fundraising effort for Ephphatha school for the deaf and The Village of Hope in the first quarter to help offset the constant disruption that takes place very day trying to pay bills.

As always your prayers, support and well wishes are greatly appreciated.

God Bless You…

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | No Comments

A much needed Obstetrics/Maternity Wing at the Clinic…

April 26, 2011

African Hope Initiative has just embarked on a project to raise $250,000 to build an Obstetrics and Maternity Wing at the Source of Life Clinic in Burkina Faso. AHI Advocate, Judy Rose is leading the charge. Here is her story:

“I was about to step into the smallish room—not much bigger than a closet crowded with cardboard boxes—and burst into tears.  Not a silent trickle.  Full blown sobbing.  Stiffly, I backed out of the tight space.  I had two words for our photographer.  “Get pictures,” I gasped.  My fellow missionaries gaped at my reaction.  After all we had seen in Burkina Faso, what about this dingy place had moved me so?  I’d been thinking God brought me to Ouagadougou for my nominal French skills, but it wasn’t my abilities that God planned to use.  It was my pain.”

“My experiences with childbirth read like the depressing chapter of those What To Expect books.  Infertility.  Miscarriage.  Pre-eclampsia.  Pre-term labor and months of bed rest.  Gestational diabetes. Gall bladder complications.  And a C-section.  Three pregnancies later I had two healthy baby boys to show for it.”

 “Looking through the doorway into the ‘delivery room’ at the Source of Life clinic in Ouagadougou was enough.  The half table with the stirrups, the lack of modern delivery equipment, the stifling heat, bad lighting and shabby surroundings told the story.  I would not have made it here, I thought.  I would have died.  My children would have died.” 

“God had brought me halfway around the world to show me this one thing—this cheerless chamber—knowing that I would understand without being told.  When Dave Bidwell handed me the plans for the new maternity ward at the Source of Hope medical clinic a few days later, he knew God was speaking to me.”

“Only $250,000 is needed to create the new facility—far less than a comparable amenity in the United States.  If you have healthy children, or if you’ve suffered loss or pregnancy complications, God may be using your experiences to speak to you, too.”

Note: You can make a contribution to the Obstetrics/Maternity Wing through electronic check or credit card by clicking on the following link:

Posted by Dave Bidwell in AHI | No Comments

Important, Light of Hope University

March 14, 2011

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Greetings, we have received all of the final documents from the government of Burkina Faso.

This is a glorious time and the pastor’s vision for a 30,000 student University that will help change the continent of Africa is moving forward. The land has been acquired, the survey work is completed, the final drawings for the first building are ready to be executed. The Board of Directors of the University has been formed and the papers for teaching at a university level have been approved

The challenge now is to get the campus and first building started and begin classes. The government has put some deadlines in place and we need to begin classes by October 2011.

We need approximately one million dollars for this to happen and we are praying that by September 1, 2011 we will have secured these donations. If you have any ideas on how we can make this happen, please let us know.

We have accomplished a tremendous amount, but the time to step up has arrived.

Your blessings and prayers are greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, please do hesitate to contact Bill Walsh ( 303-638-7068 or Dave Bidwell ( 303-808-4390

“Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action”                  Acts 7:22

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The African Hope Initiative and eMi get a little press…

January 13, 2011

The professional surveyor’s magazine, Point of Beginning, featured a story on the eMi team which surveyed and developed a site plan for the Light of Hope University last year. Pastor Michel’s inspirational vision for the university is made very clear, and the article affirms the active partnership between eMi, the African Hope Initiative, and the Word of Hope Foundation in Burkina Faso.  Kudos go to Randy Stelzner and David C. Lee who wrote the article.  You can read the online version by clicking on this link:

Posted by Dave Bidwell in AHI | No Comments

African Hope’s One Year Anniversary

January 11, 2011

The African Hope Initiative was launched a year ago, and it has been an exciting year as you can see in the blog below. Now we look to what is ahead in 2011. Among other initiatives, here are some highlights for 2011:

  • The opening of the School of Business for the Light of Hope University in Ouagadougou.
  • The completion of the Multi-purpose Hall at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf. This will provide a place for whole school to meet at once and for parents to more easily engage with the school, as well as helping supply income for the school as a rental hall for outside events.
  • The launch of the agricultural project/orphanage in Benin. This will offer these orphaned kids to have training in a life skill which can provide an income for them.
  • The expansion of the Community Bible Study initiative to almost 1000 churches across Burkina Faso. Imagine the personal study of the Bible and discussions that will take place.
  • The building of a Maternity Wing at the Source of Life Clinic in Ouagadougou. Currently, there is such demand that women wait sitting on mats on the floor in a tiny room until just before they deliver.

Again, the African Hope Initiative works as a facilitator or catalyst by serving local initiatives through consulting, resourcing, and connecting the initiatives with other partners. The projects themselves are the work of local leaders who we are honored to encourage and serve.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Posted by Dave Bidwell in AHI | No Comments


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