Justin and Jenna Dodson
Justin Dodson is preparing to train pastors at Bethel Bible Institute. Jenna will be involved in helping meet some of the health care needs and mentoring and discipleship to those who come through Journey Corps.
Justin was born and raised amongst the farm fields of Hadley, PA, where there are more cows than people—really! His parents loved the Lord and taught him scripture by words and their lives. Growing up, he was often living a schizophrenic lifestyle. When he was with his friends from Church, he was "Sunday school Johnny," but when he was with unbelieving friends, he was wrapped up in his sinful desires and passions of the flesh. After being "forced" by his parents to go to Cedarville University for one year and having a choice in the years to follow, he attended Cedarville (much to his dismay) and came to know the Lord the summer after freshman year. God has done a mighty work in his life and has allowed him true freedom in being a child of God.
Jenna was born in Canada, but at age three, she and her four brothers moved with their Mom and Dad to the little town of Adrian, MI. Growing up, her parents' lives truly reflected their dedication to the Lord; they had a long lineage of believing family members. So from the time she was born she was immersed in understanding the things of God and his son Jesus Christ. It was at age twelve when her relationship with the Lord began, understanding then that it was more than a prayer—it was a lifestyle. Through many lessons in life and scripture, and by the grace of our Father, she is still continuing to learn each day what it means to follow Christ faithfully (as a wife, mother, nurse, etc.).
After they both finished high school, they were on their way to Cedarville University in fall 2004. They first officially met their sophomore year when they went on a blind date. It was on that group date that they talked for hours and recognized each other's passion for God and desire to serve him abroad. The greatest part about them going on the blind date together was that they met, dated and got married.
You may be asking how did they get to this point of being appointed as missionaries and seeking to serve the people of Cote d'Ivoire? In the fall of 2010 they took a retreat to Hocking Hills. While there, they had a discussion about where their lives were heading, related to ministry. During that weekend they reflected on how God had been giving them a heart as individuals and as a couple to be apart of his work overseas. Throughout their lives God had exposed them to his redeeming work in many countries through personal trips and family/Church support of missionaries. It was decided after that weekend that they would move forward in the process of application into missions. Their mentors from WorldVenture sat down with them a few weeks later and laid out before them the possible areas of service. After some time and prayer, their hearts were very excited about the ministry in Ivory Coast; they felt equipped as a couple to serve in this way.
Justin will be involved in training pastors at Bethel Bible Institute with a strong Biblical-Theological foundation for ministry by forming pastors who are God-centered, servant-hearted, and mission-oriented. This is a significant need in Cote d’Ivoire as there are roughly 400 churches but only 100 pastors, which leaves each pastor having to oversee anywhere from one to five churches. In addition to this, there are 34 unreached people groups that are in need of people who can be a faithful presence and proclamation of the Gospel in their language. By equipping pastors in this way they have the opportunity to extend themselves through these men, by not going and planting a church ourselves, but by equipping and sending multiple men who can plant multiple churches. The amount of impact that this ministry can have is great, so they are excited to partner with the Ivorian Church in this way.
The second major aspect of their ministry will be with Journey Corps, a program designed to take 18-28 year olds to the Ivorian context to live with and learn from the Ivorian Church. As they do so they begin to be shaped by the Ivoirians’ and the Ivoirians’ begin to be shaped by the Journeyer’s, and in the process everyone is transformed. They are excited to walk alongside these Journeyer’s as they seek to answer three main questions: who am I? who is God?, and what is my role in God’s mission in the world? Through weekly engagement, monthly debriefing, frequent training, and personal attention we hope to shape the next generation of Christians for leadership and mission.