photo by GIBBS FRAZEUR
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For more photos by Gibbs Frazeur of the Piepmeiers' ministry in
If there is any single question facing faithful men and women today, its
that one. And across North America many senior Southern Baptists are finding
both an answer and a calling through Mission Service Corps (MSC). God is giving
personal fulfillment and great rewards to these who give fully of themselves
John and Kim Piepmeier are serving in Kiana, Alaska, a
little village above the Arctic Circle. Thats a long way from Missouri where
they both grew up. But with 50 people having already come to saving faith in
Christ under their Alaskan ministry, its as though God is reaffirming to them,
I saved you, I called you, and I am blessing you.
The Piepmeiers, who were chosen as the 2002 Mission Service Corps
Missionaries of the Year, have an extensive ministry pastoring the little
church in Kiana. But the history of their calling goes back even further. They
started by serving on a short-term basis with missionaries in Jackson Hole,
Wyoming, at the Lake of the Ozarks and in Oneida, Kentucky, beginning with
Backyard Bible Clubs using puppets.
As they sensed God calling them to go into full-time missions, they made the
surrender to go anywhere. It was on the North American Mission Board website
that they saw the opportunity in Kiana, Alaska. They applied and were accepted
to serve as self-funded missionaries through Mission Service Corps. Over the
past few years they have proven to be Gods instruments for change among the
Though they have some medical challenges and miss their grandchildren, their
spirits are high. When John and Kim surrendered to Gods call to full-time
ministry, they didnt know when or where, we just knew God said to us, Follow
Me. Now, seeing what God is doing in their lives, they declare with enthusiasm,
God is good.
Jim and Patti Barrett seemed to have it
all, the large house, the matching Jaguars. He was a director of marketing for
a large firm, she a high-school principal. Both had earned advanced degrees and
both were what they called Sunday Christians. But their families had been
praying for them and, through a downsizing of Jims company, the long hours
involved in five start-up companies and the realization that there was more,
they started to re-evaluate their lives. When we began to eliminate things from
our life, God began to give us a heart for His priorities, Jim says. At the age
of 50, we had retired from secular work and were now committed to being on
mission with God.
First they went to Poland to teach English and stayed with a Polish family
who loved the Lord in a manner we had seldom before seen. Then they went to
Poland a second time, teaching at a university in Czestochowa and seeing God
bring people to Himself through a Bible study and Sunday school.
Today, Jim and Patti are Mission Service Corps consultants working with five
associations in the northeast corner of Texas. They want to multiply themselves
as MSC missionaries and have already seen the number of missionaries increase
from 20 to 73. Last year, 200 people came to faith in Christ, and two new
churches were founded. The Barretts describe one of the missions: Several of
the MSC missionaries are involved in a truck stop chapel ministry. The truck
stop owners, who are Hindu, now provide free electricity for the tractor
trailer chapel and invite the chaplains into the facility to talk with
truckers. Its wonderful to see how God uses ordinary people to be on
mission with Him.
For anybody who is willingWe can find a place for anybody who is willing to
work, says Joe Brooks, Volunteer Mission Coordinator for the
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Joes role is to coordinate both
short-term volunteers and long-term MSC missionaries for the convention. We
look for people called by God. Senior adults are among the most underutilized
and yet greatest assets the Southern Baptist Convention has.
He explains that committed seniors, who have the time and the financial
resources, can help with small churches, tutor in schools, do relief work,
support state convention staffs, work with the homeless, evangelizethe
opportunities are everywhere. Many feel called but dont know how to get
started. We need them. Well get them started, Joe says. They can contact us or
tell their pastor that theyre willing. Every state has an MSC coordinator or
contact point. We will pray with them, answer their questions and provide the
information they need.
Before they told God they would go anywhere, Joe
and Linda Ledford had been taking short-term mission trips through the
Watauga Association of Baptists in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Joe says, Many
times as we headed home after a full day of work we said to one another,
Wouldnt it be great if we could just do missions full time?
What can I do?Mike Riggins says that there are
openings for MSC missionaries everywhere in the United States, Canada and
anywhere that a U.S. passport is not needed. These self-funded mission
opportunities are listed for anyone to check out on www.namb.net/msc or by calling
Also, state convention offices can provide a network of consultants to guide
future missionaries through the process of getting started.
Mission Service Corps exists to link self-funded missionaries and
mission needs all across North America.
MSC missionaries currently make up more than 36 percent of NAMBs
total missionary count. MSC included in this count have served at least two
Last year MSC missionaries helped lead 82,986 people
to accept Christ as Savior.
MSC missionaries are assigned by the North American Mission
Board to serve in most every capacity where jointly-funded missionaries serve,
plus many other innovative ministries.
Serving in all 50 states, throughout Canada, in Puerto Rico
andAmerican Samoa, MSC missionaries complement the mission
force supported by the Cooperative Program and the
Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
MSC provides the opportunity for many to respond to Gods call to
be on mission. Requirements are: Born-again believer, age 18 or older,
active member of an SBC church, endorsed by their church, called by God to
missions. Education and experience requirements are set by the individual
To apply or get more information, contact your state or Canadian
conventions MSC coordinator, visit www.answerthecall.net, or call the Missionary Mobilization
Team at NAMB at 800-462-8657, ext. 6473.
What happened next was a request from a pastor in Charlottetown, Prince
Edward Island, Canada, to spend eight months helping the church develop
childrens ministries. Now the Ledfords had a specific call in front of them.
That caused a crisis of belief, as we discovered that it was easy to say we
would go anywhere, but actually doing it was much harder, Joe says. Through
prayer and with encouragement from family and friends, we came to a peace and a
certainty that God had called us to Canada.
What did they do next? Joe quit his job as bureau chief of a local
newspaper, and Linda closed her beauty shop. Raising their financial support
from family, friends and churches who would be ministry partners, the Ledfords
moved to Canada in August 1999. Through childrens ministries, then adult Bible
studies, people began to come to faith in Christ, and a church was born.
Now, the Ledfords have agreed to help start a church in Cornwall,
Joe and Linda declare, We will continue as long as God permits us to serve.
God has given us an indescribable peace. He has shown us a part of Himself that
wed never known before. Our greatest reward has been to be present as God
brings people to faith in Christ and forms them into a new church. Weve never
experienced anything as exciting as this.
Retirement by designMen and women like Keith
and Mary Wright are planning for missions, starting to serve as
short-term, self-funded missionaries while they are still working, checking
their finances for retirement and then saying to God, Ill serve You. Several
have health problems that limit them now or probably will in the future. But
they are going to keep going.
This is retirement by design. Keith, who serves in prison ministries, says,
I had to de-junk my life. My wife, Mary, and I have made a commitment to become
debt free and stay debt free.
Now Keith is working on moving out of the responsibilities of his
air-conditioning business so that he can give more time to what he feels called
to do. The first time I saw inmates in Bible study praying with each other I
was hooked. I knew that I was one who had been called.
He now serves with the Sagemont Church Prison Ministry Team at the Carol S.
Vance facility in Richmond, Texas. To serve is its own reward. We have been
given a front-row seat to see the hand of God at work, says Keith.
Keith, who has been told that he may some day be in a wheel chair, says, I
am not afraid after all that I have seen God do.
God working through ordinary peopleAccording to
Mike Riggins, director of Mission Service Corps, the majority
of missionaries feel called to missions eight to ten years before responding to
that call. Mike adds: My passion is to see people discover and then fulfill
their life calling. Everything God does is with an eye on eternity. Nothing
thrills me more than to see people discover what their piece of eternity
Because Jim and Patti Barrett are committed for the long term, they explain,
We will definitely continue in mission work. God is on mission all
around the world, and we want to be working with Him because we know that His
plan to win a lost world is fulfilled through ordinary people.
Volunteer Coordinator Joe Brooks says that its time for senior adults to
stand up and say, Count me in. All they need to do is ask the question What can
Roger Palms, former editor of Decision magazine
with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is the author of 14 books and
lives in Anoka, Minnesota.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC