While Joe and Wanda Kord* are serving a three-year term in Niger with the International Mission Board, their house in Mesa is serving missionaries visiting Arizona.

The Kords sensed God’s call to full-time missions service while on the first of several mission trips to Niger with their home church, HiWay Baptist Church in Mesa. HiWay had connected with Niger several years ago through IMB missionaries Michael and Donna Tate*, whose adult son is a HiWay member.

“[Joe] and I were both just fascinated with everything that we saw,” Wanda said. “I could just feel God pulling my heart and [Joe] was sensing the same thing. Toward the end of the trip, we said, ‘How do you feel about this? Do you feel like the Lord’s been talking to you?’ and we both felt the calling.”

In effect, Joe Kord and Michael Tate have traded places. Part of Joe’s assignment is to do building maintenance on the mission compound, which was part of Michael’s job as logistics coordinator in Niger.
The Tates took the voluntary retirement incentive offered by the IMB in late 2015 and returned to Arizona, where they became members of HiWay. Now, Michael is working in management for a sand and gravel business, a position Joe held before moving overseas late last year.

Both Joe and Wanda are spending several hours a day learning the Zarma language, and Wanda is managing the missionary guest house, which provides a place of respite for missionaries between flights, for volunteer teams and for missionaries who come to the city from the bush.

Looking back, the Kords can see how God moved, preparing them for the mission field before they even sensed His call.

They downsized from a beautiful, large house and eliminated mortgage payments. As they prepared to move to Niger, they had to decide what to do with the house. They thought about leaving it empty or leasing it out, but didn’t have peace with those choices, Wanda said.

Then Joe remembered reading an article in Portraits about the need for missionary houses in Arizona, furnishing missionaries a home while they are on stateside assignment. After emailing AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson and talking with HiWay, the direction was clear.

“When things started coming together to be able to use our house as missionary housing, we saw God in that,” Joe said.

HiWay is taking care of reservations, finances and management of the house, and as another part of “trading places,” it’s under the direction of Michael Tate, HiWay’s missions team leader. The Arizona Southern Baptist Convention is providing liability insurance, and members of Heart of Mesa are cleaning between guests.

HiWay Pastor George Barnes welcomes other churches to participate in the partnership, and he’s anxious to get the word out that the house is available for visiting missionaries.

While the Kords have committed to serve in Niger for three years, the house in Mesa may be available for missionaries long after that.

“We’re going to come home when God tells us to come home,” Joe said.

“God will tell us when to come home,” Wanda echoed. “He told us to go.”

*Names changed