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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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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Trip To Africa and Europe

November 2, 2010

Our group will head off  to Burkina Faso, West Africa tomorrow. Among the group are professional deaf educators who will help teach deaf teachers at The Emphatha School for the Deaf in Ouagadougou and also develop a long term sustainable plan for the school and its planned growth. In addition we will be visiting small villages that we have visited before with The Gemach Project along with hopefully meeting with the  Burkina Faso Ambassador , The Minister of Education, The Prime Minister , Member’s of the Board of Assembly of God Church, Members of Leadership from Burkina Faso of Community Bible Study International, The Board of Directors of the planned Light of Hope University and others.We will be hosted by Lydia & Pastor Michel and their family .We will stay at the Village of Hope Boarding School, where they take care of 455 young people.

Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.

Exodus 34:10

After 10 days in Burkina Faso, we will head to Brussels and Vienna to continue to tell about our voyage.

We are very excited to see our African friends and to see what God has planned for us on this journey.

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God Launched Burkina Faso- We just joined him

November 2, 2010

As reported by Frank & Marian Vroegop-  Community Bible Study International

God fulfilled His promise in Habakkuk 1:5

“Look at the nations and watch – be utterly amazed! For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.”

We are astounded at the privilege of joining God as He fulfilled His plan for Bible studies in Burkina Faso. God took the poorest country in the world and developed His ministry of Bible studies to His glory!

You prayed and supported us, and we want to share with you our exciting journey with our awesome God! Although we arrived late at the primitive Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, airport, Pastor Michel was there welcoming us with his big smile and open arms. The love of Christ quicklybonded us. On Sunday, together with 1,000 people, we worshiped in Pastor Michel’s church. We were asked to give a message on Joshua 6, and, afterward, three courageous people walked a very long aisle to kneel on the stage and accept Christ. Their bravery was secondary to their desperate need of Jesus. They will receive weeks of spiritual instruction from the church. What a glorious way to begin our ministry in Burkina Faso!

Pastor Benjamin

As our week continued, we discovered what great leaders God had prepared for us. Before we set foot in Burkina Faso, Pastors Michel and Benjamin made preparations for the training sessions: creating and printing CBSI Burkina Faso brochures, overseeing the translation and printing of Acts CBSI lessons into three languages, organizing food and lodging for more than 100 people for five days, arranging for microphones, computers, screens, generators (sorry, no fans), TV and radio coverage for the commissioning and providing an excellent translator for us. They did this and even more in an efficient, godly way and with economic wisdom.

Pastors doing homework

We trained in a very, very hot building from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with a break for lunch. We trained the pastors from the nine training centers for two days; then, we trained the other 100 regional leaders for three days. The nine center pastors assisted us in the larger training, which reinforced their own training. Under Pastor Benjamin’s direction, the nine center pastors will roll out CBSI to the 4,000 churches.

9 Center Leaders and Frank & Marian Vroegop - CBSI

During our training, we became friends as we interacted, role-played, learned and laughed together. Burkina Faso is a “story-telling culture,”so the pastors had a lot of fun telling what they discovered by studying God’s Word in their own language for the first time! They exclaimed, “We love this!” They learned the 5-step method of Biblestudy and are fully equipped to train others.

Graduating Class

We talked extensively on how to reach and help the illiterate as well as the literate in their villages. They committed to work together! They will start in Ouagadougou in two of the training centers and then expand from there. During October and November, extensive media awareness on radio and TV will coincide with the CBSI training sessions. Classes will begin in January. At the end of the training, Pastor Michel had arranged for a special commissioning service for the CBSI-trained pastors. Ministry leaders from all over Burkina Faso came to celebrate with us. Leaders from United Bible Society, Wycliffe, Youth for Christ, and many others attended the ceremony. Other national leaders from surrounding French-speaking African countries came to meet with Pastor Michel and join in God’s launching of CBSI Burkina Faso! TV and radio were there to broadcast the event.


As we consider what God accomplished, we are astonished at what He overcame for us: we didn’t speak their language; we had to use a translator; we didn’t know their culture; we were not accustomed to their climate; and we didn’t have a clue how difficult it was for them to survive. BUT God knew it all. He had a plan for Bible studies in Burkina Faso, and He gave us His favor and blessed us by bonding our hearts together in love for Christ and love for each other. The universal language is love, and they heard our hearts! We met as strangers and left loving each other deeply.

Prayer of Dedication

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | 1 Comment »

Communication Transforming Hearts and Minds of Colorado Students who are Deaf/HH.

August 16, 2010

By:  Mandi Darr, Educational Consultant for Individuals who are Deaf/HH

It was happening right before my eyes as I looked into the faces of students at a Colorado elementary school while simultaneously seeing into the hearts of the students at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf in Burkina Faso, Africa.  Skype video technology has opened communication with the potential to unite our globe in ways only our hearts can imagine.  The lasting impacts to students and staff in both countries are beyond my understanding.  Yet, as evidenced by emotional classroom dialogues following their Skype video experience this transformed the hearts and minds of many.

Colorado Classroom

How is this possible?  It is people who realized they can change the lives of others on the other side of the globe.  It is student council groups who have purchased chalk for the Deaf School in Burkina Faso.  It is neighbors and community who have provided household/school items shipped in containers to Africa.  It is schools throughout the state who have given clothing, school supplies and books to be used by other children who have almost nothing.  It is people, changed by their own involvement, who will be joining our team again to Burkina Faso this November 4 – 17, 2010.  It may be you.

Each trip to Burkina is different and focused on needs determined by their local leadership.  On past trips we have met with parents of children at the school, provided training for teachers and parents, modeled classroom instruction, presented hands on techniques and strategies, distributed donated supplies and set up a small computer lab.  During our March 2010 visit, an opportunity was created for regular and ongoing communication between Burkina Faso and Colorado.  The world is now open for continued training, mentoring of staff, opportunities to increase the language level of the students, student email pen pals, and growth for all.  Contributions made possible the installation of local internet service and a large flat screen monitor which we use regularly for Skype video and email contact.

Burkina Faso, West Africa classroom

Several Colorado school programs and two families have been able to communicate live with the students/staff in Burkina so far.  During one video call, everyone rejoiced when a Colorado first grader held their classroom pet turtle up to the web camera and the 49 students in first level class in Burkina signed “turtle” all together.  As their classmate with a cochlear implant stepped to the computer to speak, many 4th grade students were moved to tears when the African students realized for the first time not all individuals who are Deaf have black skin.  We invite you to share in these experiences with us.  If you, your family or your students desire a heart transformation, if your group/classroom/club would like to adopt the school for a service project, or you would like to encourage the people at the school for the Deaf in Burkina in some way, please contact Janine Cole or myself.

You may have read a previous article in The Communicator about the Ephphatha School for the Deaf written by Janine Cole, Supervisor for Outreach for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the Wyoming Department of Education.  We are part of a non-profit organization called the African Hope Initiative ( which was created to serve this school as well as support other initiatives in Burkina Faso.  You can see a video, spoken in English and interpreted in ASL, of the Ephphatha School for the Deaf on this website if you, your family or students are interested.  The three minute video provides information about the country, the school and gives you a visual picture of what life is like for these parents and children with hearing loss.

In the words of Paul Yanogo, principal at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf, (translated from French to English), “The students of our school were very happy to see the students of the Colorado school on Skype.  Your children are changing the lives of our children.  I hope we will see students again another time.  The students we have in our program are: 128 Deaf (72 boys and 56 girls) and 47 Hearing (21 boys and 26 girls).  Thank you that you think about us in Colorado.  Thank you for all of your support. May God bless all of you!”

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