By Lindsey (Walker ) Strength ’10
A normal day for Heather Huizing ’97 starts at 7 a.m. when she wakes up to make oatmeal and tea on her multi-fuel blowtorch stove. After sweeping up debris that has fallen from her thatched roof during the night, she rides her bike to the market. She buys bread from a baker in a grass-walled shop, and on her way home, she stops to eat lunch with fellow Cush 4 Christ missionaries Dan ’07 and Natalie (Weir ’05) Faris and their one-year-old son, Samuel. She does some work for the ministry and weeds a local family’s yard in the afternoon. After dinner, the rest of the team comes to her hut for a meeting, and then she falls asleep beneath a mosquito net.
Heather and the Farises live in Aweil, southern Sudan with Cush 4 Christ, a mission of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). Aweil is close to southern Darfur, and although it’s a distance from the publicized conflict, each day brings a measure of danger and uncertainty. But with faith comes confidence, and they know God has them exactly where He wants them to be.
Heather has always been interested in mission work, and at Geneva College she majored in sociology and Christian ministries. After graduation she took a job at William Carey International University (WCIU) and the U.S. Center for World missions. Then she met Cush 4 Christ missionaries Vince and Julie Ward. As Heather learned about the work they were doing in Sudan, she realized that this was where God was calling her to serve.
“I don’t think there is a formula for hearing God’s call,” she says. “I believe we must prepare our hearts to hear from God by being in His Word and in prayer daily. And when we have things on our hearts that we are passionate about, we should seek to learn more about those things and pray fervently for them.”
Like Heather, fellow Geneva grads Dan and Natalie Faris had always considered long-term ministry abroad, but they just weren’t sure when and how it would happen.
“Before we were married we had agreed that we were interested in possibly serving overseas someday, if God would so lead,” Natalie says. “We had been receiving e-mail updates from a small team beginning church-planting work in Sudan, and we were fascinated.”
In January 2007, they spent a three-month stint in Sudan while considering long-term commitment. But following God’s call to the Sudan meant leaving their home, families and countless everyday securities. What would they do for decent health care? How would this affect their young son? The questions seemed endless, but God made it clear that if they were willing to follow Him, He would provide. Less than a year later, only seven weeks after Samuel was born, they made the move.
“We believe very strongly that God will not lead us where his grace cannot keep us,” Natalie says. “When we made our first visit to Sudan, Daniel said it would take a lot of grace to live here. During that same trip God impressed upon me the truth of II Corinthians 9:10-11 — that God gives abundant grace for us who give of ourselves abundantly.”
Designated as a Pennsylvania College of Distinction, Geneva is recognized as one of the best places in the state for students to learn, to grow, and to succeed.