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The Bowman family’s call to Africa

Bowman family 1 9605cef7
When God calls you to a place as remote and needy as Swaziland, you are going to want to hear him clearly.  Such was the case for Kevin and Christi Bowman.  Kevin is a programmer and Christi raises their three small children. This past January they went on a vision trip and wrote about …
By Seth Barnes

When God calls you to a place as remote and needy as Swaziland, you are going to want to hear him clearly.  Such was the case for Kevin and Christi Bowman.  Kevin is a programmer and Christi raises their three small children. This past January they went on a vision trip and wrote about it in a blog I posted earlier.  Since then, they have pursued their call to minister in Swaziland.  Here’s their story.

Bowman family 1At our first care point, on our first day in Swaziland my wife knew God was calling us to be present and at home in the Swazi work.  How else do you respond when you see a seven year-old “mother” walk three miles with her 18 month-old sister on her back while holding her three year-old brother by the hand?   How else do you respond to holding a nine year-old HIV-infected, sore-covered girl, a girl in such pain she can’t eat her one meal of the day?

So, we knew that God was calling us to work with his orphans. Two weeks after returning to Chicago, I prayed with my wife, “God I’m going to need a wet fleece, a sign.”  I am a dad with three kids and a wife to support.  I have a nice job, a great boss, a decent house, and a good circle of people I love.  If God wants me to leave all this, I need Him to make it visibly clear. 

The next day, I stayed back at lunch.  I was sitting in my favorite chair – my place of comfort. And again I prayed, “God if you want me to go, I’m going to have to have a sign.”

CRASH! Right then as I was praying my chair broke and I fell to the ground. God was telling me to get out of my comfort zone.  There was my wet fleece.

Still I wrestled with God.  This was such a dramatic thing I was praying about.  That night I felt like Gideon praying, “Allow me one more test with the fleece…” And I explained to God that if this was REALLY his calling, I needed an event that could not be explained – I needed my mother’s blessing.  She loves her grandbabies more than anything and had steadfastly resisted our sense of call.  She had been working on me since that very first day we got back, to insure that I did not go back as a missionary. 

So when I saw her number on my phone I picked up my phone, wondering how I would respond to her attacks, since I now had the confirmation of my damp fleece.

To my amazement, she had heard from God herself.  She told me that she KNEW I was being called to Africa, and she was sad because she could not fight God.  My heart was broken and I sat there alone in my office and I cried as I wrung the water out of the fleece.

The very next day, Tom Davis has a link on his blog from his buddy Seth Barnes.  I clicked over and begin to read the story of baby Moses and I begin to weep as I pray along with Seth, “God help us. God, help us to wake up. Help us to see how much you love the widow and the orphan…” I cry and I question, “God, why am I not there?” “God, can I handle this?” “God, how do I…?” I don’t think I even know what to cry for, but I cry as I pray. 

Over the next several days I find myself developing a deeply meaningful one-sided relationship with Seth Barnes.  I kept coming back to his blog, waiting for an update on the baby, but instead I find this anonymous mentor.  I keep reading. I am in wonder of God’s amazing timing with his emphasis on Swaziland, his son’s presence there, and the tragedy of baby Moses being played out. God had given me a special gift in this blog. I asked God for wisdom.   I shot an email off to Seth asking for his guidance on my struggles in this process.

I told God: “God, I feel you have made this clear, but I have no clue if I am qualified or experienced to do this.  So I am putting this all on you.  If this man responds with a positive affirmation, then I will trust you to come through with everything else, but if his answer is anything but positive then I know we’re cool and I can follow you around here.”  In the most respectful of ways, I called God out, and waited for Seth’s reply.

A few days later Seth responded.  He was coming to Chicago the next day to preach at a nearby church. We went to hear him and the message was pointed right at us – it addressed my last questions with this calling.  Of all the churches, and all the weekends, and all the speakers, God brought Seth here to our backyard the very week he confirmed His calling to us.  That weekend God asked me, “Kevin, do you truly love me more than these?” My answer is “yes.”  So now we are raising support, selling our house and we are following his call to Swaziland.

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