Missionary Stories

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.

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.

Opening Doors in Difficult Times

There are so many reasons that living in South Sudan would be difficult. Civil war has been a part of life for decades. First the southern part of Sudan fought with the northern part until it broke away in 2011. Then disagreements between factions in the new government began to escalate into violence.

But for missionary Carrie Lewis, those concerns are just the background noise that she lives with daily in South Sudan. She also has to forgo the luxuries of a hot shower or an occasional fast-food meal. Since her family lives far from any large cities and relies on solar power in its home, life takes on a much slower pace.

The Lewis family, originally from northeast Louisiana and southeast Texas, is ministering to the Toposa people of South Sudan. Life among these people is not only slow but also very relational, Carrie said. “If you are on the way to go somewhere and a visitor stops by, you are expected to stop everything and visit as long as the visitor wants.”

Missionary Spotlight Update: Antonio and LaRonda Anderson

God has been good to Antonio Anderson and his church, providing a new worship site in a more convenient location and people to serve alongside them. His core team is very helpful in serving at Hope Church Philly. David Pearson, the regional leader for the Philadelphia region’s church planting catalysts, has been instrumental in helping the church craft its ministry vision and how that would look and work in its community.

The congregation is becoming more community focused—going on prayerwalks, handing out water, and speaking to people about the church. “God has been speaking to me about having a community day, a town hall meeting, for the people to express their community desires and how Hope Church Philly can help,” Anderson shared.

God has also been good to Anderson’s family. They just returned from a vacation in Canada. Anderson said he is enjoying having weekly family devotions and watching his 2 daughters grow and mature in ministry. One day, the children’s church teacher got sick on her way to children’s church and Anderson’s oldest daughter asked if she could teach the lesson, stirring his heart.

A Ministry in Transition

The summer of 2016 brought a big transition to the life and ministry of International Mission Board missionaries James and Angela Roberts and their 3 children. They moved from northern Poland, where they spent more than 5 years, to London, England, where they will work to connect with American churches, international business professionals, and university students interested in doing missions work.

Angela Roberts said her primary responsibility at this life stage is to be a mother to her daughters who range in age from 9 years old to 25 years old. Her children are able to connect her to people she might not otherwise meet, and they open the door to having spiritual conversations with other moms.

Church Planting in Arizona

Debbie and Mike Bishop are experienced at listening and responding to the call of God as He has moved them many times throughout their 40-year marriage. Debbie Bishop is originally from Alabama and Mike Bishop from Illinois, but they have lived in Southern California, Canada, Texas, and Arizona.

God moved them to Florence, Arizona, in 2010 to plant Harvest Church at Anthem, where Mike Bishop is the lead pastor. “The people we minister to in our community, comprised of families and retired people, come from various religious backgrounds and places in the country. We have people in the community that are unchurched, and we live in an area where there is a large Mormon population,” Debbie Bishop said.

Her main responsibility as a church planter’s wife is to encourage her husband. Beyond that, she serves as children’s ministry director and leads a women’s Bible study in her home.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Mark and Claire McIntosh*

After more than 15 years as missionaries, Mark and Claire McIntosh have successfully adjusted to most language, cultural, and daily challenges. They acknowledge, however, how frustrated they grow when they stumble over “the same things we have already stumbled over.” Most of that stumbling may relate to spiritual difficulties.

One less spiritual problem many of us can readily identify with: Claire McIntosh’s hatred of rats. Although she probably shared that tidbit of information with tongue in cheek, it serves as a valid reminder. How often do we pray for the “minor” daily frustrations we face? Missionaries receive no pass from them. If anything, they intensify because of the distance from much of their support system.

Training Other Missionaries to Serve in the Americas

As the field medical coordinator for all missionary personnel serving in the Americas, Jennifier Barger helps those entering the missions field in a medical capacity understand their role as they prepare to minister to people in the Americas.

A former nurse practitioner, Barger is familiar with the maladies that plague the human body. An International Mission Board missionary for nearly 2 decades, she also understands the spiritual needs of sin-sick people. Not so coincidentally, it was a series of medical issues her family experienced several years ago that most recently reminded her of her identity in Christ.

Within 2 years, Barger and her daughter both underwent surgery. Her husband, Don, suffered a mysterious illness that sent the family back to the United States for treatment. Then, in one particularly harrowing experience, her eldest child endured respiratory distress while in the middle of the jungle. There was no way to get medical treatment until the next morning. These experiences might drive some away from their beliefs, but they drove Barger further into the arms of her Savior.

Giving Hope to Survivors of Disasters

It’s been more than a decade since Henrietta Gentry first took up the plow—or in her case, a chain saw—in the missions field with Texas Baptist Men’s (TBM) disaster relief ministry. She has served the survivors of disasters—Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Rita, and a volcano eruption in Hawaii—in the hopes that those in the most desperate situations would realize God’s plan for their lives.

“We want to be able to help and give hope,” Gentry said.

She currently serves as the chaplain coordinator for TBM’s disaster relief ministry, equipping men and women to serve a missions field ripe with those seeking hope. It’s a physically demanding job, Gentry said, but one that carries the added joy of pointing others to Jesus.

“It’s giving a cup of cool water in Jesus’ name,” she said, referencing Mark 9:41. “We minister to the physical needs first. Then, once they are comfortable, the chaplain can talk about spiritual matters with them.”

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