Missionary Stories

Breaking Down Walls and Building Relationships

A circle of friends surrounds Melissa* and lays hands on her shoulders as they pray for her healing from breast cancer. Deborah squeezes Melissa’s arm in encouragement and to remind Melissa that she’s not alone.

Melissa and her family attend Harvest Church at Anthem, which Deborah Bishop and her husband, Mike, planted in Florence, Arizona. She had not been attending the church for very long before she received the cancer diagnosis.

“Melissa has said more than once how thankful she and her family are that God brought them to our church because of the love and support they have received,” said Deborah, a North American Mission Board church planter. “They love hearing the Word of God preached each week and she says that it always speaks to her and her family.”

Recently Melissa’s cancer went into remission.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Garth and Patty Leno

On February 10, The Gathering Windsor helped some very special members of its community make lifetime memories when the church hosted Night to Shine, a prom night experience for people with special needs.

Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is centered on God’s love, which made it an ideal outreach event for The Gathering, whose mission is to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a Facebook post, Pastor Garth Leno wrote that the church was “praying that God [would] empower our planning team to create an unforgettable event that will make every participant feel like a King or a Queen for the night.”

The event held special meaning for Leno and his wife, Patty, as their 30-year-old daughter, Jamie, attended Night to Shine—her first prom. The event was a significant opportunity for the church as well, Leno said.

Moving Forward

Jesse and Kathy Morales moved from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Cochrane, Alberta, in 1989 to attend Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. In 1994, they started a home Bible study that grew into a church in Calgary, Alberta. They were planting their second church when Jesse became terminally ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and died in 2009.

Kathy found a new direction in ministry with the University of Calgary women’s basketball team. Last year, her missions group began serving a monthly home-cooked meal for the women, always making sure there was food left over to take for the next day.

At first, Kathy did not share Christ or pray because they were on university turf. One day, the basketball coach asked her to have prayer and a short devotion with the women. At the end of the season, he asked her to continue doing it the next year. When he learned about a summer missions trip to host a sports camp in northern Canada, he decided to take his women “on mission.”

God Never Fails

Bob and Pam Brownfield met at church when he drove down from Alaska to go to school at Auburn University in Alabama. Upon graduation, Bob worked as an engineer, while Pam was a clinical microbiologist. When God called them to be missionaries, no organization would appoint them because Pam has lupus. Finally the directors of African Bible Colleges urged them to obey their calling and trust God with Pam’s health.

In 1994, they arrived in Malawi, along with their 4 children. There were many adjustments to be made during their 2 years there. The biggest adjustment at first was all the family members being together most of the time, but they quickly learned to love that. The children missed their activities like ballet and gymnastics. Grocery shopping was a problem because the products available changed from day to day, causing Pam to have to improvise menus.          

Missionary Spotlight Update: Martin and Debra Hasler*

Celebrating American holidays in a different culture, especially in the Middle East, provides the Haslers with an outreach opportunity.

“We usually have big holiday celebrations at our house where we share about Jesus and what He did for us so that we can have salvation,” Debra Hasler explained.

“Recently the groups have gotten so large that we could not fit everyone in our house. Our last celebration, we had over 100 people come for a big holiday meal and celebration where we shared with them about how Jesus died for our sins to free us and give us salvation. These events are big events to plan, but God makes it work every time.”

On the missions field, the entire family—Martin, Debra, and sons Robert* and Michael*—works together to make things happen because God always has a plan. What Debra Hasler has learned is “God does not seek to keep us in the dark about what He wants us to do.”

Missionary Spotlight Update: Enio Agüero

Chaplain Enio Agüero believes chaplains are ministers called by God. He asked that others support chaplains by praying for them, making ways to help them serve. He said, “Prayer support, and I don’t know how to describe it: Do whatever you have to even if it’s stepping aside when you see a need and don’t know how to react. Call somebody. Don’t stay still. Don’t do nothing. Somebody else might be able to help that individual. And that individual may be going through something in their mind after losing everything or receiving a notification, or whatever it is, and you may be there. And if you don’t know what to say, find someone who will help them. Don’t leave them hanging.”

Enio Agüero is featured in the January 2017 Missions Mosaic Missionary Spotlight.

Dianne Swaim has answered God’s call to serve as a hospital chaplain in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Obedience: Always the Best Choice

In 2015, Jack and Melody Williams* left Benin, their home of 24 years, to reestablish an International Mission Board presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Benin was not an easy place to live, but Melody Williams fell in love with the country and its people. The Williamses learned French, Benin’s official language, and Fon, a language spoken by about 1.2 million Beninese. Learning Fon helped Melody Williams lead many to Christ.

The grief of leaving behind friends and ministry partners in Benin still lingers, but the Williamses are not only seeing a tremendous work of God in DRC but also being content with difficulties for Christ’s sake.

Though DRC is considered a “reached” nation because 80% of the population claims Christianity, some of its evangelical churches have been corrupted by the influence of animism, spiritism, witchcraft, and sorcery.

“During a war, those who had known Christ did not pass on their faith and teachings on repentance, surrender, and the cost of discipleship,” Melody Williams said.

Doing More Than Training Students to Be Christians

“Drexel is Different” proclaim billboards throughout Philadelphia, and Brian Musser, Baptist campus minister, couldn’t agree more.

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Drexel University is home to a student population of more than 25,000 students.

Since he arrived on campus 11 years ago, Musser has not only established a Baptist presence but also helped several Christian organizations find a place at Drexel, which is important because “no one organization is going to reach the entire campus.”

As Mission Service Corps missionaries for the North American Mission Board, Musser and his wife, Jennifer, raise their own support. A diverse group of more than 100 churches in Philadelphia Baptist Association helps, but partnerships with other evangelical churches throughout Philadelphia are important.

Reaching a Salad Bowl of Cultures in L. A.

If you asked Send City missionary Robby Pitt which people groups he was trying to reach, he would have a hard time giving a short answer. The city of Los Angeles is so diverse in so many ways that it would be hard to pin down.

Just start with the size and the population. “Greater L. A. has over 19 million people,” Pitt said. Those people are spread over a vast geographic area that includes 70 miles of coastline, large areas of desert, and the 10,000-foot Mount Baldy. The city has 4 million people in 114 neighborhoods. The county as a whole has 10 million, with 88 cities.

Then consider the language barriers Pitt faces. “Over 55% of the population speaks a language other than English at home.” And knowing a little Spanish would not solve the problem—as many as 224 languages are spoken in Los Angeles County.

“I have learned so much about the world right here in L. A.,” Pitt said. “I especially enjoy serving alongside of church planters.” Some come from outside the city, and Pitt helps them learn the culture. But the indigenous church planters have been called from among their own people.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Brian and Becky Harrell

Former local witch doctor Adelina is still following Christ. Shortly after her conversion, she came to a meeting covered in painful boils. Becky Harrell was teaching about how following Jesus is not always easy. When Becky spotted Adelina sitting in the dirt, covered in boils, she thought she would use Adelina as an example of faithfulness in hard times. So Becky asked Adelina, rhetorically, if following Jesus was easy.

Adelina responded, “Yes. It is easy.” Becky thought she must have misunderstood the question and asked her again. Adelina had the same reply and added, “Before I followed Jesus, I used to live in fear of the spirits, but now I have peace.”

In a village where Adelina shared her testimony, an old woman gave her life to Christ. This woman’s family had hired a witch doctor to build a spirit hut for her to help her through severe sickness. When she came to Christ, she demanded that the spirit hut be torn down despite her family’s threats of not taking care of her and making her pay back the money that had been spent to build the hut.

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