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Seeing in the Dark, Part 1

An interview with Michelle Tessendorf, Executive Director of Orchard: Africa

What talents or spiritual gifts has God given you, that equip you for your role?

I think I'm really good at strategic planning, to put procedures and systems into place that produce positive outcomes in the communities where we work. My husband has the saying that I can see in the dark, and I suppose what that constitutes is where there is a lot of confusion and people don't really know how to respond, somehow God gives me the light and I'm able to find a strategic plan and I'm able to put systems into place. And once we start working through that, the outcomes always seem to be positive. So I believe God uses me in that way.

How might other women exercise similar gifts in their own communities?

You know, I stumbled upon this ministry by accident. My husband and I were called to pastor a church in this particular city. Both being ordained pastors, he had been called to take on the senior pastor's role and I was one of the pastors on staff. And we found out about children who were rummaging on the garbage dump for food. We just felt that was unacceptable. Our children at the time were in preschool, and we just felt, how could there be children eating garbage for food? So we stepped up to the plate and started a feeding project on the city garbage dump, and here we are 20 years later and Orchard: Africa is a multinational, multicultural ministry. Many times God puts something in front of you and you just do what you need to do and you find your ministry that way.

So for other women, it's a case of what is in front of you. What has God brought to your attention? What is right there in your midst that perhaps needs some attention? Just step up to the plate in some small way. We had big pots of food and we took it to the garbage dump and fed the children, and I had no inkling that God was calling me to this ministry and where I would be 20 years later. But here I am, and I think that's something I could say to other women. If they just open their eyes and their ears and watch how God uses something small. One small step. Before you know it, you find a ministry.

What have you seen God do through your work in Africa?

July15, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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