Sometimes I feel like I'm in the CIA or FBI. After a long day in my office, sitting through multiple meetings/child interviews, answering emails, and making phone calls, I wish I could come home and tell someone about my day, but I can't. I wish I could write a newsletter and fill you all in, on how my ministry is making a difference and who I've helped but I can't.
This is my third school year at Rift Valley Academy (RVA - a boarding school for missionary kids) and I can confidently say it has been my hardest year yet. My primary responsibility at RVA is Child Safety Coordinator and this year has been full of difficult conversations and monstrous challenges. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive and confidential nature of my ministry, it is often difficult for me to send reports or newsletters communicating what I've been up to and who I've helped. When I am very busy with child safety, it means I have less time to do the fun things around campus (like teaching, mentoring, sponsoring a class, leading activities etc.). Those activities tend to be the only things I can write about in newsletters... so, unfortunately, if I am very focused on Child Safety, there tends to be less that I can write about. While I can't go into detail regarding the specific child safety responses I've been involved in, it has been very clear to me this school year that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that God is using me. When I sit across from a child sharing about something difficult that has happened in their life, I'm so thankful that I can be there to support them and walk alongside of them. When I email or speak on the phone to a parent serving the Lord across the continent of Africa, who is far from their kid, and they thank me for being there for their kid and RVA, I know God is blessing my ministry and theirs. I spoke to a mom recently about a really difficult situation and she shared how hard it is to be far from her child, especially right now. She shared how incredibly thankful she is that I was there to listen, love, support and care for her child. While it's very difficult information we're grappling with, I know this is an opportunity for me to share the Father's heart with students. I may not have numbers or quantifiable data of how many kids I've saved or can't share details about the number of responses... I know God is using me in a powerful way and that this ministry, while difficult means that the gospel can be proclaimed. So, that's why, sometimes I feel like I'm in the CIA or the FBI.
A Letter from Cath Swanson, Child Safety Officer for Africa Inland Mission
This is a note to all of Tori’s supporters. It is an expression of thanks and deep appreciation for all the ways you pray for Tori and financially support in her Child Safety Role. I have been AIM’s Child Safety Officer for 11 years and I personally know how hard it is to explain what we do and consequently how difficult it can be to gather a support base around us. Mostly, I tend to defer to my husband’s role which is more overtly to do with visible outcomes like church planting and preaching. It is so much easier for people to understand.
Why is it so hard to explain what we do? It’s because Child Safety is to do with children being harmed and suffering abuse - it’s a topic none of us likes to talk about. But the fact is that children are as at risk of harm on the mission field as anywhere in the world. As believers we know we live in a fallen and broken world and that we have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Child abuse is something we have sadly seen occurs to children in ministry settings- by other members of the community, older children or even within the organisation itself.
Over the past two decades, mission agencies have become aware that too many children of missionary families have been harmed because of their families being on the field. This is because sometimes families are too busy in ministry to identify that their children are suffering. It is also because Christian organisations are often soft targets for predators to infiltrate. Traditionally we have not been aware, not had policies or protocols; we have been naïve and too lax in our scrutiny.
The end goal of AIM is to reach the unreached with the wonderful message of Christ and His glory! That is why we are working in Africa! but we need ‘watchmen on the walls’ to make sure that the enemy does not destroy the lives of children along the way- or undermine the integrity of the gospel. To this end, we need to recruit safely and identify risk early on before they become a child’s tragic story. Tori is such a ‘watchman’ at Rift Valley Academy. She watches over the 500 students and 50 staff at the school to ensure that in all we do that the students are safe and that they can learn without fear, harassment, or harm.
As the International Officer who oversees all of AIM’s child safety work including RVA, I can testify to how hard Tori works and I have witnessed the pressure she can be under to make courageous and wise decisions. She writes and upholds policy. She trains, consults, advises, and counsels staff. She is a tireless advocate for the students.
To do the most difficult parts of her job professionally she needs to ensure strict confidentiality. This means that the best of what Tori achieves is unknown and will remain so. She can’t advertise or promote her outcomes. So much of what she does is discreet, private, and guarded within a tight circle.
Therefore, I want to flag up Tori’s work and to tell you her supporters that you are doing a fine thing in helping hundreds of families to minister faithfully across Africa, knowing that their kids are in safe hands. Thank you so much for supporting Tori and praying for her. Thank you for the part you play in helping AIM fulfil God’s purpose to save souls and redeem a lost world.
Child Safety Officer, Africa Inland Mission
RN, RM, HVDip, BAHons, Msc. (London)
Raising support while on the mission field is challenging. Raising support when you can't really speak about what you do, is even harder. I am currently about $647 under supported. I would really appreciate your prayer in this specific area. Would you please pray that God would provide? Would you pray that God would do miracles in this area? Would you prayerfully consider if you might be able to make a one-time or on-going monthly donation to my ministry?
If you'd like to support my ministry, you can give online at the links below - just enter "Tori Bissell" under specific missionary.
Thank you for your love and support. Missing you and praying for you and your families.
- Tori Bissell
*Some names and information may have been changed to protect the safety of students.