AFRICA (RNS) Barbie Savior loves Jesus, adventures and her adopted home of Africa. Arriving from America just 13 weeks ago, she has become the most famous faith-based voluntourist in the world. The 20-year-old missionary has over 100,000 Instagram followers who follow her every visit to orphanages and safaris.
She took a break from her important work to talk with The Literalist about her rising popularity, connection with all Africans and advice on international development.
RNS: You’re about to pass 100k Instagram followers. Wow. Has your fame made it hard to be present for your important ministry?
BS: Who would have thought little old me would become so … Instagram famous! I am already living my dream, saving those in Africa, so to me this is just an added bonus. Nothing can distract me from my very important work, even fame.
RNS: When did you first feel called to save the children?
BS: Ever since I was little I was deeply fascinated with and moved by those living in the Third World, specifically the country of Africa. My true love for Africa came from watching “The Lion King.” From the first time watching it, I knew one day I would go to Africa. As I grew older I learned about the poverty and disparity that ravage the entire country. Even though I have no training whatsoever, I know that the answers to all the problems here lie within me. I have never felt such genuine purpose in my life as I do in Africa.
RNS: How do you keep going when it’s so hard?
BS: Sometimes it is all I can do to not call my travel agent and hop on the next plane out of here. This life is hard and messy and broken — but beautiful. However, my worst days here are better than my best days back home! I truly come alive through saving others. On really bad days, I just dust off my favorite pink heels and hit the streets to hug some orphans!
RNS: How do you put the natives at ease so you can reach them?
BS: I just really try to assimilate as much as possible. I am one of them and at home here in the country of Africa. This alone puts them at ease. Together we share our struggles and our burdens.
RNS: How difficult is it for you to relate to Christians who haven’t given up everything to move to Africa?
BS: I am not going to lie — it is very difficult. I have sacrificed so much to be here, doing His work. Things that matter to my friends back home just don’t matter to me anymore. But — this is my cross to bear and I try not to pass judgment because God tells us not to — it is really hard.
RNS: Imagine sitting down with the president of Africa. What one piece of advice would you give him?
BS: Can you please create more orphans for me and my friends to love on? I have so much to give and I feel I will run out of orphans!
RNS: Which memory will stick with you the most when you eventually leave Africa?
BS: I will never forget my first encounter with poverty. There is no coming back after you have seen — you are responsible. It was my first day in Africa. I was deep in the village. Lunchtime came around and I was handed a plate of food, but no utensils. Can you imagine? I mean … it is borderline barbaric! I knew then and there, I could make a difference in this destitute land.