Craig and Vanessa Bielema met while at ECHO in Southwest Florida in 2011. They were both drawn to ECHO in their pursuit of further training in how to apply their vocations--engineering and agricultural education, respectively--to their desire to serve God and the global body of Christ. The two married in 2014 and began seeking how God might lead them to serve cross-culturally together.
Craig grew up in Illinois and by the time he graduated from college he had a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a deep desire for working in missions. But the two seemed incompatible and so he worked four years in a typical engineering job, until God showed him an opportunity in the field of Appropriate Technologies. That is what led him to ECHO where he spent five years training missionaries and development workers in Appropriate Technologies and learning about the many exciting ways that he as an engineer can be used by God in missions.
Vanessa is originally from Northern California and got her Masters Degree from SIT Graduate Institute in Sustainable Development. Vanessa also has felt a call to cross-cultural ministry since young adulthood and served in short-term missions in Kenya, Australia, Thailand and Uganda. Professionally Vanessa's work has focused on local food production and agricultural education both in the US through university extension services and internationally through community development programs.
In 2018 Craig and Vanessa moved to Burundi to serve with MCC, and their daughter, Wren, was born that same year. The Bielemas fell in love with Burundi, and after their term with MCC was complete at the beginning of 2022, they saw an opportunity to join the Serge team serving at Kibuye Hope Hospital. The team in Kibuye is dedicated to the training of Burundian medical professionals as well as providing direct medical care. Craig will join one other Serge team member and a large group of local tradesmen as they support the work of the hospital through the essential task of building, maintaining, and rehabilitating the hospital facilities. Vanessa will focus primarily on family responsibilities while also pursuing ways to engage the local community through agriculture.
The Bielemas are excited to join the team to witness what God is doing in this part of Burundi and discover how they can best use their experience and giftings to serve in word and deed.
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