Written by Nic Fraraccio // Photo provided by Justin Bland
Harding exercise and sports science professor Justin Bland welcomed his first missionary family at the beginning of the spring semester into the newly renovated Searcy Mission House. Harding graduate Louis Bassay has stayed at the home with Bland’s family for the last three weeks.
The Cameroonian missionary has continued to work with Harding University and Cloverdale Church of Christ since graduating from the University in 2018. Bassay said his church family at Cloverdale has continued to bless the mission work he has completed at home.
“Cloverdale is the best thing that’s happened to the missionary work in Cameroon,” Bassay said.
Bassay also praised the work Bland and his wife completed when renovating the mission home.
“The way the Blands have dedicated themselves to the Mission House and the work they have done there is such an inspiration and a challenge to me at the same time,” Bassay said. “You have to admire sacrifice, and they do it with so much love.”
Despite welcoming Bassay and his family into the mission home, Bland said he and his wife faced many obstacles that created “resistance at every step.” However, Bland said Cloverdale and Clairday Electric, Inc. offered a significant amount of time and resources to complete the Mission House.
The renovated mission home on North Pear Street has caught the attention of members within the Harding missionary community.
Harding director of Global Outreach Kenneth Graves said he believes the house will “start and strengthen connections” with missionaries around the world. Graves, who served as a church planter in Brazil for 18 years, said the house will make missionary families feel at home when visiting Searcy.
“The biggest benefit would be the peace and privacy that they would have for their own family,” Graves said.
Even though the house will come as a benefit to missionaries around the world, Bland admitted he isn’t focused on causing change.
“I’m not interested in changing the world,” Bland said. “I’m interested in being responsible with the things that God has given me to be responsible with.”
The house is designed to be a place of refuge for missionaries on furlough, Bland said. It will be considered for other traveling Christians in need of a temporary place to stay. Currently, guests can stay there rent free, although the house is not yet fully operational. Bland said a board will meet to determine if that policy needs to be altered in the future.
“They need a place to not be in the spotlight or under a microscope — to not have to worry about crashing on someone’s futon with their kids stuffed around them, worrying about taking up someone’s space or wondering what the schedule is for that family,” Bland said. “Typically, furlough is not a time of rest for missionaries so we want to do what we can to make it that way.”
As the house continues to be used by visiting missionaries, Bland hopes the house serves as a “swinging door” for those who visit Searcy.
“I don’t know how God’s going to use that,” Bland said. “But if every family that comes feels that they have a place of refuge, that’s great. That is a blessing.”