Jane Anne Gibbs, a native Nashvillian who has years of experience serving through missions in African cities, was recently appointed as Belmont University’s new Missionary in Residence. The Missionary in Residence program was introduced in the fall of 2011 and aims to connect both students and faculty to information on how they can get involved in global missions.
Gibbs began her missionary work in 1989 when the International Mission Board appointed her and her husband to serve as church planters and evangelists in Burkina Faso, Africa. The Gibbs completed one year of French study in Tours, France before heading to Burkina Faso, where they spent 13 years in a rural area planting churches, training pastors and homeschooling their three children. Jane also worked in a limited capacity in literacy and women’s work during that time. The Gibbs resigned as missionaries and headed back to Nashville in 2003 in an effort to care for their oldest daughter who was struggling with several health concerns.
Upon returning, Jane began teaching English at Whites Creek High School while her husband, Bart, served as a bivocational pastor at Hobson Pike Baptist Church. When their daughter’s health began to improve, Jane and Bart felt once again that God was leading them to west Africa. They were appointed in 2010 as church planting catalysts in the small town of Nalerigu in northern Ghana, where Jane helped with the homeschooling efforts of five missionary families.
She also spent her time visiting churches and forming groups dedicated to supporting the church, its women and women in the community through prayer, discipleship and outreach. After three years in Ghana, the couple was asked to return to Burkina Faso to serve various tasks including church planting, mentoring new missionaries, teaching the Bible and working as school board trustees and medical services council members.
“The last three years of our missionary tour were some of the most tumultuous we’ve ever experienced,” Gibbs said. “because of the tragedy of the Ebola virus in west Africa, a peaceful overthrow of the Burkina Faso government in 2014, a year’s transitional government, an ultimately unsuccessful coup d’état in September 2015, peaceful Democratic elections in November 2015 and a terrorist attack killing 30 innocent civilians and ex-patriates by Al-Qaïda of the Islamic Magreb in January 2016, as well as AQIM’s kidnapping of an 84-year-old independent missionary surgeon and his wife from a northern medical clinic.”
The family is now on home assignment, through May 2017, where they are visiting family, helping their youngest daughter settle into college and pursuing coursework and training in working with struggling readers.
“We are so thankful for the opportunity God has provided us to serve as missionaries with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Our following Jesus’s Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 has taken us to ‘the uttermost parts of the earth,’ and it’s been the source of innumerable blessings and great joy to witness others giving their lives to God and growing in His grace and knowledge.”
Belmont’s Vice President for Spiritual Development Dr. Todd Lake said, “Belmont is thankful to have a Missionary in Residence program that serves our students so well. Our newest MIR, Jane Anne Gibbs, has connected so warmly across campus with international students, those interested in becoming more involved in missions and students and faculty who desire to learn more about French-speaking Africa.”