Jonathan and Dani were both raised in wonderful Christian homes. Jonathan grew up in Maine, while Dani was raised in Pennsylvania. At a very early age, Jonathan felt the call to be a missionary in Africa. When he was 15, his got his first job lobstering off the coast of Maine and began saving up to go to Bible school. He entered Elim Bible Institute in 1998, majoring in Bible and Missions. Included in this track was a missions internship, which Jonathan completed in Niger, West Africa, with an Elim Fellowship missionary family who was serving there. As he spent time in Niger, the Lord spoke to his heart that Niger was the place he would later return to serve in as a full-time missionary. The next year, back at Elim, Jonathan met Dani Moriah Burket for the first time, and fell head over heels in love with her. Dani also had a strong desire to serve the Lord overseas, and also had a deep love for Africa. They fell in love, courted for three years, and then were married in 2003.
After graduating from Elim, Jonathan, who had been learning the trade of a skilled carpenter, worked in the building trade over the next 10 years, supporting Dani as she began schooling to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. When Dani graduated from nursing school, she first worked in a local hospital, then later moved to a small medical healthcare center. Here Dani become an assistant to a Nurse Practitioner who, knowing her desire to become a missionary one day, took time to teach her many practical medical skills that have since become invaluable on the mission field.
During this season of full-time work, Jonathan and Dani continued serving at their home church, Lawrenceville Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, PA, leading the youth ministry and helping with the maintenance of the church grounds. In 2006, Jonathan and Dani took a “scouting trip” together to Niger. On this trip the Lord once again confirmed to both of them that Niger was where He was directing them to serve in the future. After returning home Jonathan and Dani related their desire to serve as missionaries in Niger to their local church leadership, who strongly encouraged them to invest a few years in a full-time ministry role in the church before leaving. At that point, Jonathan became the assistant pastor of Lawrenceville Baptist, and began to direct the Sunday morning services, while Dani started up a children’s ministry program. After four years of full-time ministry in their local church, Jonathan and Dani were sent out with the full blessing of their home church and sending organization, Elim Fellowship, to serve as career missionaries in Niger.
Jonathan and Dani left the States in 2010 with their young children, Isaiah and Anna, and flew to Niger where they are currently residing. After two years of in-depth language study in the Hausa language, Jonathan is now teaching in the Discipleship Bible School in Maradi and also helping the national pastors to plant new churches in unreached villages, showing the Jesus film, doing children’s ministry, evangelism, famine relief, and hosting medical teams. Dani is raising and homeschooling their children (now four “Bitty Bowdens” – Grace Moriah was born in 2012 and Micaela Joy arrived in 2014), while at the same time being available to help the many sick people who come to their home. She has been able to help treat many cases of malaria, skin infections, typhoid, along with various other illnesses. We have seen many adults and children healed through the power of the Lord using Dani in this area of medical care. Dani also teaches the Discipleship Bible School students basic healthcare, including how to use a thermometer, how to take their own temperature, how to manage a fever, when to seek medical help, and, lastly, the students are each given their own thermometer to take back to their home village.
Jonathan and Dani’s vision is to help serve and encourage the existing national work of Vie Abondante, and to participate in planting churches in the many unreached villages that surround them. Through training new believers in the Discipleship Bible School, sending them out to share the gospel, and planting new churches in villages that were previously unreached, the Bowden family is actively engaged in the great commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son. and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)