A New Chapter in Botswana: Introducing Two Missionary Families
16 September 2016—If there’s one thing we know as Christians, it’s that God works in mysterious ways, often keeping the road ahead of us hidden from our sight. He often call us to step out in faith, not knowing where that call will lead.
A little more than 54 years ago, Jim and Mary Nipp set sail from New York harbor with a one-way ticket on a freighter ship bound for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A year later, God led them to Maun, Botswana, where they began a ministry as independent Church of God missionaries that has blossomed into a healthy, vibrant church, with five congregations across the country. In 2012, Jim wrote: “Our first service was under a tree in Maun. We cut logs for pews. A broken truck spring and a tire lever made a perfect bell. Twenty-one people attended that service.” Over the years, the Nipps have walked in fellowship with these congregations, nurturing them to spiritual maturity.
In 2011, Global Missions (now Global Strategy) and Church of God Ministries welcomed the Church of God in Botswana into the worldwide fellowship of the Church of God and recognized the service of Jim and Mary Nipp.
Today, Global Strategy is pleased to announce that we are sending a team of two couples to work alongside the Church of God in Botswana: Tim and Joy Coppess and Corey and Abby Stocksdale. In early August, regional coordinators for Africa, Mike and Heather Webb, visited the Church of God in Botswana, along with Jim Nipp, the Coppesses, and Corey Stocksdale. This trip was the culmination of a year of exploration for these two couples and a confirmation of their call to missions. Immediately following this vision trip, Global Strategy received an invitation from the national leadership in Botswana to these two couples.
Tim and Joy Coppess are no strangers to the Church of God, having spent the bulk of their lives in Anderson, Indiana, not to mention that Joy is the daughter of retired Church of God executive Jim Williams. Both are graduates of Anderson College, now University. Both are passionate lifelong educators, Tim with more than 20 years as a high school science teacher and Joy as a preschool teacher. A few years ago, Tim and Joy began to sense a call to ministry, and Tim stepped down in faith from his teaching position to pursue ordination. For the past three years, Tim has served as pastor of University Park Church of God, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Nor are Corey and Abby Stocksdale strangers to the Church of God. These parents of three young children are also graduates of Anderson University. Growing up on a farm in southern Indiana, Abby came to Christ at a young age and has pursued interests and skills that focus on the spiritual and physical development of people. She’s a talented and deeply respected fitness instructor and personal trainer, and has implemented the Daniel Plan, a program combining diet, fitness, and spiritual growth. Corey felt the call to ministry as a teenager, and for the past nine years he has served as the associate and youth pastor at Community Church of God, Danville, Illinois, where he has also been active as a member of the Illinois State Youth Ministry Team. He has a passion for introducing people to Christ and is known within the Danville community for building relationships across social divides and racial lines.
The Church of God in Botswana have invited both couples to minister alongside the national and local leadership. Tim and Joy will be applying their passion and experience as educators to the establishment of a training program for pastors and church leaders, as well as to church planting and ongoing leadership development. Corey and Abby have been invited to help the church implement a Children of Promise program, as well helping the church develop evangelism and community outreach programs designed to meet the social and spiritual needs of the community, tasks well suited to their experience as community developers.
The Church of God in Botswana is doing very well. It is growing, and we are excited about its future. The church is looking forward to stronger connections with the global community of the Church of God.