Brooke Wiens began attending PV in 2012. From growing up on the mission field in Mali, Africa, to teaching in Kansas City, Brooke answered the call of the Great Commission to reach those far from Christ in her own hometown.
I grew up in a family who made Jesus their priority. My parents were missionaries in Mali, West Africa. Through their lives I saw Jesus lived and modeled for me every day. I was 5 when I told Jesus he could have my life, that I loved Him and would serve him. In my high school years, I really began to grow my relationship with Jesus through a mentoring program with a lady at my school.
I began serving on an outreach team that would share the love of Jesus in surrounding villages on the weekend, provide basic medical help, and play with the local kids. We would share dramas, music, and our lives with them. This opened my eyes and heart to a new way of living – living on purpose in all areas of my life. My smile, my interactions, the health care we provided, the music or bible stories we acted out – I realized every part of my day could be used for Jesus.
“This opened my eyes and heart to a new way of living… I realized every part of my day could be used for Jesus.”
Upon leaving high school, and trying to figure out my life path, I was determined that I was NOT going to live in the United States. The U.S. was not my home, and I didn’t have good memories there, so I was determined to work anywhere other than there. I went to school in Georgia to get my teaching license, and then I applied to schools all over the world to teach. I accepted a position to teach at an American School in Seoul, South Korea. However, I got incredibly sick while I was there which resulted in me being sent back to the U.S. Doctors here in Kansas City told me that I would most likely never work full time again. It seemed that my dream of living overseas and working with international families was gone. It all felt so hopeless and I was crushed.
Over time, God began to heal my immune system and I began to work full time again in a school district in the Northland of Kansas City. One day, one of my coworkers came rushing down the hall and asked if I had applied for the ESL program my school district was offering classroom teachers to get certified. They thought this was the perfect fit for me, but the deadline to apply was that night at midnight. I was still determined to live internationally so this idea wasn’t exactly the direction I was hoping for but I felt like this was in fact something I should apply for. I went home, submitted my application and, much to my surprise, I was accepted!
In the process of working through the program, I had the opportunity to go on a few missions trips with PV to Haiti and Sierra Leone. I had the opportunity to apply and was accepted to teach at a school in West Africa. Through this journey, God showed me that if I wasn’t willing to live my faith right here in my own city, then what was the point of just going on a quick mission trip? It was then that I decided that I needed to change my plans and start being missional right where God has placed me in Kansas City!
Three years ago, I switched from teaching 4th grade (which I loved) to being an English as a Second Language teacher at a school here in the Northland. My school has 21 countries and 18 languages represented. It’s a beautiful blend of cultures, religions, and languages. I get the privilege every day to work with families from all over the world.
This year, we’ve had a relatively large group of newcomer families resettle in our area. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with their families to help them adjust and transition to life in Kansas City. One of my favorite memories from the past six months was when a community group here at PV donated a Thanksgiving box for a family. It was delivered to our school and I picked it up and took it over to the family. I went over to their home the day before Thanksgiving and, together, that mom and I made a turkey and the whole family enjoyed an American Turkey for the first time. Which, I might add, was a big hit for them! They then proceed to serve me a delicious Syrian meal. In my best simple English, I explained to them that Thanksgiving is a time where we thank God for what He has given us. We went around and shared things were thankful for. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
“It was then that I decided that I needed to change my plans and start being missional right where God has placed me in Kansas City!”
While I work in a public school and don’t always have the ability to share Jesus vocally, I am learning that the light of Jesus lives in me and if I’m willing, He will shine bright regardless of my words. Serving others, offering kind words and a smile, and finding something in common with the person next to you are all ways I’ve launched myself into the work I’m doing.
The immigrant and refugee families I’ve worked with are hungry for cultural mediators. They need people to help them navigate the intricate details of life in the U.S. – a life that is often very different than the places they’ve left behind. It starts simple, such as simply smiling at the woman wearing a hijab with her children at the grocery store. She’s a mom just like you, and I guarantee her kids wants the same things in the checkout line as yours do. God uses all methods, so take a risk!
I began attending Pleasant Valley about 5 years ago. I had hit a rough patch and just needed a change of scenery. I’d been attending my parent’s church but felt I just needed a safe place to land and grow. I walked into the KCI campus the first Sunday it was open and was welcomed with open arms. Loving, caring, kind people who Loved Jesus walked alongside me and we became deeper Jesus followers together. I currently attend the Saturday evening service and serve as a hospitality host. I also serve with Global Outreach by helping with Ready, Set, GO!, a class that prepares fellow church members to go on mission. Missions will always make my heart beat faster.
My dream of working internationally that I thought had died is, in fact, alive and well. It’s right here in Kansas City. It’s in my neighborhood. God had this plan all along and I’m so thankful I listened to Him because I would’ve missed all of this goodness right in front of me.