Rev. Elliott J. Anderson is the Wellness Center Director at Judson University and Partner in ELK Home Restorations. He was Senior Pastor at Elgin Evangelical Free Church (Illinois) for 8 years and has been involved with christian education and church ministry for 25 years. Elliott has also been a psychology professor, a crisis therapist, a collegiate basketball and baseball coach, a vice president, a jazz and gospel drummer, an author, and owned multiple businesses. He has taught, performed, preached, and coached in Japan, Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and all over the United States. He and his wife Angie have two adopted sons, two biological daughters, fostered two sons, and housed over 20 college students and missionaries.
Elliott's passion is loving Christ and loving others through making disciples and sharing the gospel in whatever way the Spirit moves and the Lord desires. Though a foot shorter, Elliott was a college basketball teammate of Jeff's at Judson University and a life long friend and supporter of his ministries ever since.
Barry Clair is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God with a church leadership degree from Southeastern University in Florida. He pastored Bethel Assembly of God in Quincy, IL for 12 years and has also served as a staff pastor at Lakeshore Tabernacle in Kenosha, WI; Tri County Assembly in Cincinnati, OH; and Calvary Temple Christian Center in Springfield, IL. He is currently the lead pastor at Tiffany Fellowship in Kansas City MO.
Barry is passionate about impacting and mentoring people not only in the USA but also around the world. He has taken over 10 trips overseas teaching leadership conferences in Mexico, China, South America, South Africa, Thailand, Sicily, Italy, and Hong Kong.
He has been a part of Jeff Hunt's life as a friend and mentor including trips to South Africa in 2002 and 2003. Barry believes in the mission of Engage Africa and is committed to helping facilitate the work in South Africa.
Abby grew up near Chicago in Elgin IL. She began working with children even as a teenager, teaching Sunday School, teaching in a preschool, assisting in a special education class for children with behavior disorders, and working with after school programs. She attended North Central University in Minneapolis, MN where she majored in elementary education with minor studies in children's ministry and deaf cultural ministries. After college, she served as a children's pastor for about 6 years before spending 2 years as a missionary associate at Jackson's Ridge Children's Ministry Training Centre near Rustenburg, South Africa.
While in South Africa, Abby helped organize and teach kids camps for under-privileged children, taught a variety of seminars for children's ministry training conferences, and co-directed the Jackson's Ridge Baby Shelter (a place of safety for orphans and vulnerable children in crisis). She quickly fell in love with the people, the culture, and especially the children of South Africa. After experiencing the incredible needs of South African children, Abby committed to spend her life making a difference. She and her husband, Jeff, established Engage Africa to engage the children of South Africa in life to the full... for as long as it lasts.
Jeff Hunt graduated from Waukegan Christian High School in 1985, and then attended Judson University from 1985-1989 graduating with a BA in Education. He then spent 9 years working in education and filling a variety of positions including PE teacher, athletic director, dean of students, and coach for basketball, volleyball, and soccer teams.
Jeff first went to South Africa in 2001 to spend 2 years working with missionaries David and Janis Betzer doing sports outreach, school assemblies, and life-skills training. While he was there, he quickly fell in love with the people, culture, and country and knew that he would one day return to South Africa to make a difference in the lives of the children that live in such great need.
He returned to the States in 2003 and was hired at Calvary Temple Christian Center in Springfield, IL as their Sports Ministry Director. He worked in this position until 2006 when he transitioned to Children's MInistry, met his wife, Abby, and began to make plans to return to South Africa.
In 2008, he and Abby established Engage Africa and, through this organization, they will spend their lives engaging the children of South Africa in life to the full... for as long as it lasts.
Vern Hunt has been involved in the housing industry since 1969. In the early 70's he owned and operated Hunt Plastering Company, which was founded by his grandfather. In 1987 he founded Cavin Investments, Inc., a real estate investment, development, and construction company. From 1987-99 he developed several residential subdivisions in norther Illinois. Vern and his family relocated to Pensacola, FL in 1999 where he has been active in the real estate market as a real estate broker in Florida and Alabama.
Vern's love for Africa and her people began in 1996 when he was part of a missions team sent to Kenya and Uganda to build several churches. In 1999 he returned to help build a Bible school in Kenya. A business venture in 2008 brought Vern to Kenya and South Africa, where he was once again impacted by the spiritual and practical needs of the African people.
Vern now resides in Pensacola, Florida with his wife, Susan. They have 3 daughters, 2 granddaughters, and 1 grandson. He loves to travel and enjoys golf, fishing, boating, and, especially, spending time with his family.
Sonya Jones was born in Springfield, Illinois and grew up an only child in Litchfield, IL. She attended Litchfield High School and played several sports. Sonya was a 4 year Varsity fast-pitch softball player at Greenville College, where she received a bachelor's degree in physical education. She was an All-American her junior and senior years and was named All-American Player of the Year. Jones made history at Greenville College as she was the first person to ever hit the softball out of the ballpark. Sonya was also a 4 year Varsity Soccer Player at Greenville College. She played two years of Semi-Professional Softball and was invited to two professional (WPSL) softball tryouts in Tampa Bay, FL and Raleigh-Durham, NC. Sonya also holds two Master's Degrees, one in Educational Leadership and one in Educational Administration. She received her Master's Degrees from the University of Illinois in Springfield, IL. Sonya was recently a finalist on Season 16 of NBC's hit reality show The Biggest Loser. Sonya lost a total of 144 pounds while on the show earning the title of Runner-Up falling to the winner by less than 1 pound. Jones is an Outreach Representative for HSHS Medical Group. Sonya is actively involved in her church, Calvary Church in Springfield, IL and is on the board of the non-profit organization Engage Africa. She also enjoys working out and spending time with those she loves. Brad Majors grew up in Waukegan, IL and graduated from Waukegan East High School. He then went on to graduate from Moody Bible Institute with a BA in Visual Communications. Brad is currently a Graphic Designer in Chicago, IL.
Brad has a variety of interests including competitive mountain, road, and cyclocross biking, and cross country skiing. When his competitive ventures allow him an opportunity, he enjoys watching Chicago sports teams. He and his wife, Rachel, live in Chicago, IL., and they are active members of Park Community Church.
Brad is planning on visiting South Africa in the near future. He has a tender heart for orphans and believes in the vision and mission of Engage Africa.
Rachel Majors is Chief Financial Officer of the Illinois market for UnitedHealthcare. Prior to joining UnitedHealthcare in 2011, she spent 8 years working in various aspects of corporate finance at the Tribune Company and 4 years working in the audit practice of KPMG LLP. Rachel is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of the Chicago Booth School of Business at University of Chicago, where she received a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance and Strategic Management. She also received her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN, where she majored in Accounting and Biblical Studies. Rachel is an active member of Park Community Church in Chicago. Rachel traveled to South Africa in 2006 and was able to experience firsthand the needs of the South African people and understand the vision of Engage Africa. Jeni Phelps is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University where she studied music education. She served in full time music ministry at Calvary Temple Christian Center in Springfield, IL from 1999-2006 and remains very active with worship arts at Calvary including 9 years as choir director. Currently, Jeni is employed by Bickford Senior Living where she works in Marketing and community relations. Special interests include playing bassoon in local performing groups, singing anywhere at any time, dabbling in interior design, and enjoying time with friends.
In 2006 Jeni was able to travel with a church team to South Africa. The team hosted basketball camps... where Jeni was able to demonstrate how NOT to do a lay up! However, the majority of the trip was spent with orphaned and vulnerable children and infants who were very easy to fall in love with. Just one experience with the people of South Africa was enough to make her not only want to return but also to support the efforts of Engage Africa.
Larry Sauter is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God with a BS in business education from Illinois State University and a MA in special education from Western Michigan University. He has worked as a houseparent at Glenwood School for Boys in Glenwood, IL; director of residential treatment at Guardian Angel Home, Joliet, IL; college administrator for the University of Saint Frances in Joliet, IL; Minister of Christian Education and Children's Pastor in Elgin, IL; and Executive Pastor at First Assembly of God in Normal, IL. He and his wife, Penny, spent 10 years serving as Assemblies of God missionaries to people with disabilities. They have a passion for God and for serving those overlooked by society. Larry is currently the Care Pastor at New Life Covenant Church Elgin and Principal at Highland Christian Academy. Both are in Elgin, IL.
Larry's first trip to South Africa was in 1996 when he visited Jackson's Ridge Children's Ministry Training Centre to do building projects so there could be kids camps on the grounds. He has been back several times with teams of children's pastors or church groups to do a variety of building projects, kids camps and to do training for adults to work with the children of South Africa. Larry and Penny plan to return annually to work with Jeff and Abby and the children of South Africa.
Penny Sauter has a BA in elementary education from Illinois Sate University. She has worked as a substitute teacher; a houseparent at Glenwood School for Boys in Glenwood, IL; a kindergarten teacher at Christian Learning Center in Elgin, IL; a CNA at Bethany Home for seniors in Waupaca, WI; and full-time receptionist and member services director for First Assembly of God in Normal, IL. She and her husband, Larry spent 10 years serving as Assemblies of God missionaries to people with disabilities. They have a passion for God and for serving those who are overlooked by society. Penny is currently working as coordinator before school childcare for Highland Christian Academy and the assistant to the Care Pastor for New Life Covenant Church Elgin in Elgin, IL.
In 2003, Penny had the opportunity to make her first trip to South Africa. It didn't take long for her to fall in love with the children and for her to be moved deeply by the need and the possibilities in South Africa. Penny and Larry plan to return annually to work with Jeff and Abby and the children of South Africa.