Jeff Bassett was born in Queens, New York, into a large Roman Catholic family. Though very devout in his efforts to please God, he continually failed to have a true relationship with God. He did not know his need or the way to become born again as the Bible teaches. Just weeks before his 20th birthday, he heard the Gospel from a group of soul winners in Rochester, New York. The Holy Spirit heavily convicted him of his sinful condition and pointed him to Christ's finished work on the cross as the only and complete payment for his sin. Jeff trusted Christ as his Savior in July 1976. God led him to join with a local church there, and a wonderful work of grace took place. Under the preaching of God's Word, indifference and apathy towards serving God and man melted away from his once self-centered life.
He plunged into service, starting a bus route, then a second, third, and fourth, and then led a fifth route, all the while training workers and turning the routes over to the newly trained workers. He prayed to the Lord of the harvest to provide laborers. God did exactly that. In July 1978 Jeff realized that God had called him to preach. How could that be? Jeff thought he could never speak publicly! God chose an unlikely candidate so all would know that it was God who was doing the work through whomever He chose to use.
In 1980 Jeff went to Oklahoma Baptist College (OBC) and majored in Pastoral Theology, graduating with a B.A. in 1984. God was not finished surprising Jeff. Four months before his graduation in a Sunday P.M. service at Windsor Hills Baptist Church, God clearly revealed through the preaching of Missionary Rick Martin that Jeff was to go to Ivory Coast, Africa, as a missionary. How could that be? After graduation Jeff applied to be a missionary with Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI). He was accepted in July 1984. Jeff made a survey trip in early 1985, and with no missionary training and no wife, Jeff started deputation. Well, God can do anything. God brought Jeff the woman He had prepared for him, and in fifteen months Jeff was married and had the support that they needed.
Carla is the daughter of a pastor in rural Indiana. Saved at the age of seven, she was raised in a godly home and had the privilege of meeting many missionary families as they came through for meetings and meals in her family's home. At the age of sixteen, she surrendered to serve God in anyway and anywhere that God wanted, including Africa. She attended Pensacola Christian College, majoring in elementary education. God led her across Jeff's path when she was 21 years of age. She transferred to OBC. Jeff was preparing to start deputation, yet had no wife nor did he know whom he should marry. Eleven months after meeting each other they were married on December 7, 1985.
Jeff and Carla went to Quebec to study French in 1986, and in September 1987 they arrived in Africa with their nine-month-old son. Upon arrival in Ivory Coast, Jeff taught in the Bible college in Abidjan. Three months after arriving in Ivory Coast, his fellow missionaries asked him to be the director of the BIMI Bible Institute. Through the grace of God, he also started three churches during his first term.
For nineteen years Jeff and Carla served in Ivory Coast, starting churches, training nationals, and turning the works over to the nationals. Praying to the Lord of the Harvest has been central in their ministry. Without God-called men, few works could have been started. God has called many men into the ministry, allowing Jeff and Carla to multiply themselves. Many churches were started in Ivory Coast. Men went out as missionaries to the neighboring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso, where they started churches and have been training national preachers and starting more churches. During this time in Ivory Coast, God blessed them with a total of five children. Carla was busy homeschooling them.
In February 2006 God led the Bassetts to the regions beyond West Africa. They were to now travel over 2,500 miles to Kampala, Uganda, East Africa. They worked with French-speaking refugees from Congo and Rwanda in Kampala for a year and a half. Souls were saved and a man from Rwanda was called to preach. Jeff showed him how to win souls, disciple new converts, and make pastoral visits. Jeff then was led of God to Mbarara in southwest Uganda to work with Missionary Bryan Stensaas. They labored together—training nationals and helping them start churches.
At the same time, Jeff and Carla started to go soul winning at a refugee camp in that part of the country where over 60,000 people were placed by the United Nations (UN). Souls from Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea had been transplanted from their home countries due to fighting. What an opportunity! Jeff and Carla were now evangelizing multitudes from seven countries without having to even travel and face all of the hassle of obtaining visas and the like. Thousands of refugees have heard the Gospel, and hundreds have been saved. Nearly 300 have been baptized. Four churches have been planted there at that camp.
The man from Rwanda who had been saved in 2006 in Kampala has finished Bible college and is back in Rwanda. He is starting a church there. Two of the men who were in the Bible institute at the refugee camp have been brought to America by the UN. One is from Congo and the other from Ethiopia. They desire to start churches among fellow African immigrants who are in the United States. This is missions going full circle.
Carla has been in constant pain with bouts with arthritis. The terrible roads and cement floors she is constantly standing and walking on have taken a toll during these past three decades. Jeff and Carla just did not have an answer as to how to do ministry because Carla could not take it physically.
God brought several elements together all at one time. Churches across the northeast US have encountered a common challenge. There are multitudes of foreigners who are flooding into their areas. Dealing with foreign culture and thinking is a real test. Jeff and Carla have been invited to work with these churches in starting ministries with pockets of immigrants. They have two of their national pastors from Africa who were transferred by the UN. They not only need to be in a good church but also are burdened to reach numbers of fellow Africans. They will work with them in starting churches. The Bassetts' sending church, Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, New Jersey, wants them to continue to work with their churches in Africa. They have 32 assemblies through which they will work to start at least one more church through each of these works within the next five years. They will share their experience and knowledge of missions and church planting with missionaries and church planters in training from churches in the Northeast Corridor where one fourth of America's population is located.