One left a teaching career at a high-performing school to teach challenged
children in a nearby inner city. One resigned from a church staff in an
affluent neighborhood to start a church that attracted drug and alcohol
addicts. One sacrificed work at a profitable business in Chil to come to the
United States to work among Hispanics.
To their friends and families, their choices to move from the known and
successful to the unknown and challenging mission field may have seemed odd.
But, each heard Gods call and answered eagerly, sacrificially and expectantly.
Today, they are part of a North American mission force that includes more than
5,000 men and women. This year, the four described here join with four others
as featured Week of Prayer missionaries. Their stories will inspire Southern
Baptists, but inspiration is not enough. They need our prayers, financial gifts
through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO) and our commitment to work
alongside them in volunteer efforts.
This years Week of Prayer missionaries represent the work of 5,126
missions personnel serving throughout the United States, its territories and
Canada. Their mission field includes inner cities, rural towns, snowy slopes
and sandy beaches. They have answered Gods call to serve wherever He has placed
them, and they want to do whatever He requires in order to share the gospel and
reach the lost.
As a Southern Baptist, you are an essential part of their network of
support. Your prayers on their behalf undergird their efforts. Your commitment
to serve with them in volunteer roles helps them achieve more.
Through your churchs gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Annie
Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, you provide the
necessary resources that enable them to effectively share Christ. The North
American Mission Board works in partnership with state conventions to
distribute monies given through the AAEO to missionaries and their efforts 100
percent of the AAEO goes directly to the mission field. Since the offerings
inception, more than $1 billion has been received by the North American Mission
Board to use in reaching people in North America for Christ. The national goal
for 2005 is $55 million. Last year, Southern Baptists gave more than $53.8
million to the offering.
For Dwight Huffman, a Week of Prayer missionary serving as a church planter
in northwest Canada, the significant work made possible by the offering is
immeasurable. The strategic value of Southern Baptists giving through the Annie
Armstrong offering can only be measured as I watch the lives of people changea
change that comes over their faces as they hear the gospel for the first
Missionary introduction by Carmon Keith.Week of Prayer missionaryprofiles by Joe Westbury.
FUNDING NORTH AMERICAN MISSIONS
Local Church Each Southern
Baptist church prayerfully decides how much of its undesignated gifts will be
committed to the Cooperative Program. This amount, which averages about 7%, is
forwarded to your Baptist state convention.
State Convention State Baptist conventions decide what
percent of Cooperative Program gifts from the churches will be used for
ministries and missionaries within your state, and what amount will be
forwarded to the SBC for national and international missions and
SBC Cooperative Program During the Southern Baptist
Convention each June, messengers decide how CP gifts from the state conventions
will be divided between SBC agencies. Half of all gifts go to the International
Mission Board, 22.79% to the North American Mission Board, and a combined 27%
to the SBC theological seminaries and other SBC ministries.
Annie Armstrong Easter Offering Every penny you give to the
Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goes directly to support SBC missionaries in
the United States, its territories and Canada. 75% of every AAEO dollar pays
missionary salaries and benefits. The remainder of the funds are for the
missionaries evangelism and church planting ministries.
Troy & Jamae SmithOregon
When it comes to cultivating friends and building
relationships, few people in the Pacific Northwest do it better than Troy
Many didnt believe he would last more than three years when he felt led to
start a church in inner- city Portland, Oregon. But 19 years later he has
earned a national reputation for pioneering a Christian approach to redemption
from substance abuse.
SAFE (Setting Addicts Free Eternally) Ministries has earned the respect of
the doubters and continues to out perform other substance abuse programs.
With the help of his wife, Jamae, Troy has taken the concept across North
America as its popularity continues to grow. It also has been embraced in the
Troy felt called to leave his fulltime evangelism ministry in suburban
Portland and begin a church in the inner city but had few supporters. Churches
were moving out, and those that remained didnt know how to deal with the
problems of the down-and-out residents who populated the citys streets.
At first, Troy didnt either.
Genuine commitments to Christ go sour when addicts arent offered help with
their drug problems. I found that my static answersI cant help you but God
canwere not good enough, not practical enough. As I worked with these people, I
saw death everywhere I turned.
We found that while there were many who were
genuinely open to the gospel, keeping them away from their old lifestyle was
difficult. Many became Christians but didnt stay committed and quickly slipped
back into their old lifestyles.
The problem was the lack of a Christian approach to dealing with substance
abuse. Troy and a co-worker won more than a hundred individuals to Christ, but
many took their own lives out of desperation.
I kept asking myself if those I led to Christ were actually saved, why did
they keep slipping back into their old lifestyles? Then God gave me the
objectives that became the foundation of what is now known as SAFESetting
Addicts Free Eternally.
The goal of SAFE is not sobriety, Troy is quick to point out. The goal is
for each person who completes the course to become a productive, healthy, child
As one former addict explained to him, if you sober up a thief you still
have a thief. But if you change him from the inside, you no longer have a
thief. That realization has made all the difference to those who enter the SAFE
Troys approach includes providing a house where recovering addicts pay rent
and live while providing each other with spiritual and emotional support.
Businesses in the city embraced the program by providing clients with
employment. Participants in the program exhibit solid work ethics.
Troy says extensive scripture memorization and Bible study are part of
the approach, so former substance abusers are transformed from the inside out.
And the results have been amazing.
Mission: To reach inner-city Portland with the gospel and
to set substance abusers free eternally through a personal relationship with
Prayer Request: Pray that God will provide the resources
for an inpatient program for women. Pray also for those who are former
substance abusers to continue to grow in their spiritual walk and to have a
strong witness wherever they go.
PHOTOS BY Steve Lundburg
Grace & John McGrawAlabama
When God called Grace McGraw to a Third World mission
field, she didnt expect it to be just 15 minutes from her school in an affluent
section of Birming-ham, Alabama.
Looking back over that call, she readily admits that shes glad He didnt tell
her all the details of where she would be serving. But today she sees the
wisdom in His decision to call her to help birth M-POWER Ministries in the
citys high crime community known as Woodlawn/Avondale.
Its a setting this 52-year-old schoolteacher would have preferred to avoid.
She was happy in her career of 28 years and fully expected to serve two more
years to make it an even 30.
Yet the call to retire two years early, which went against every desire of
her heart, was one of the best decisions of her life, she says today.
For all practical purposes the Lord picked me up from my comfortable career
and dropped me in the middle of a foreign land, she says matter-of-factly. When
Grace arrived on the scene she was a little out of her element.
The economic, cultural and social barriers were a struggle to overcome, but
the response has been encouraging, she adds while taking a break from tutoring
These days she counsels and models her faith, through ministry evangelism,
for children who are search- ing for reasons to believe her God.
The children who come to her for tutoring have to deal with gangs, drugs are
pushed at them as ways of avoiding reality, and prostitution is common. Many of
their parents have been caught up in a cycle of crime and illiteracy that
typifies the community. Many children dont expect much else out of life.
I didnt know anything about working in a ministry to low-income residents. I
was a schoolteacher, not a social worker, she remembers thinking.
But that was exactly what the new ministry, which was
being started by the Birmingham Baptist Association and partner churches,
As she became more familiar with the residents and their needs, she saw
exactly what God had in mindHe needed an educator.
Today she oversees 20 volunteers in a popular after-school tutoring ministry
for children and supervises a literacy missions program for their parents.
Teaching children and adults to read the Bible is at the heart of all they
The goal of the ministry is to teach her students to be more productive
members of society because of the spiritual lessons they learn. Being a
Christian is a major step in laying the foundation to a better life.
I want the children who come to M-POWER Ministries through the years to see
Christianity modeled as a viable lifestyle. We are praying that the children
and adults will learn about Jesus and begin to live a Christian lifestyle if
they already know Him and to accept Him if they are not believers.
Mission: To provide literacy missions ministries to adults
and children in a low-income section of Birmingham and to model a Christian
lifestyle to those who attend classes at M-POWER Ministries.
Prayer Requests: Pray for more volunteers to surrender to
Gods call to become involved in this ministry. Pray that they will be able to
teach Jesus and salvation in a way that people will understand. Pray for the
students and their families.
PHOTOS BY John Swain
Carlos & Cristina de la BarraKentucky
As residents of Chile, Carlos and Cristina de la
Barra were used to living the good life. They were quite comfortable with the
lifestyle provided by the successful computer company owned by the family.
All that changed, though, when Carlos met a Southern Baptist missionary and
discovered that he was searching for happiness in all the wrong places. The
missionary helped him find a relationship with Christ that filled the
God-shaped longing in his heart.
That commitment to Christ eventually led him and his family to immigrate to
the United States where he now serves as a church planter in the Hispanic
community of Central Kentucky.
On vacations to the missionarys home in South Carolina he and Cristina began
to see the great need for starting churches among Hispanics in Greenville. But
it wasnt an immediate decision.
Up until this time Cristina had not been very active in church, but when she
saw the needs among Hispanics in South Carolina she had a change of heart. One
night she suddenly said to me, Carlos, Im ready. I never had to ask what she
was ready for; I knew she saw for herself how big was the suffering, how great
was the need.
As they sensed Gods calling they began to prepare their three daughterstwo
of whom were teenagers at the timefor a drastic lifestyle change. They moved
out of their spacious home and rented a small apartment for a year before
moving to Greenville where Carlos spent a year studying English in preparation
Following graduation from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, Kentucky, he joined the North American Mission Board as a church
planter. He brought experience with him, having started Hispanic churches in
Today Carlos serves Hispanic communities in central Kentucky. In that role
he trains and mentors pastors much the same way he was trained in Chile by the
missionaryby having men in the local churches assist him with worship services
More than 200,000 Hispanics are known to be living
in Kentucky. But Carlos believes that number is low due to those who enter the
state illegally. He does not lack for ministry opportunities, he says with a
His ministry has constantly been changing. At first his church planting was
seasonal from April until mid-December when everyone would return home for the
Christmas holidays with money they had saved during the year. But now Hispanics
are moving into jobs such as in fast food restaurants and construction where
employment is steady, and they work year-round.
Five years ago we had churches that closed during the winter because there
was no one to attend services. Now we have services all year long and are
beginning to grow congregations with roots in the community, he says.
The biggest problem we have now is growth, because we dont have enough
leaders. But I am grateful to Southern Baptists providing funds for this
ministry through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Without that support I
could not afford to be here among my Hispanic brothers and sisters.
Mission: To start churches among central Kentuckys
ever-growing Hispanic community.
Prayer Requests: Pray that God will continue to open doors
with new immigrants who come to the U.S. looking for financial prosperity but
who are really searching for spiritual peace. Pray for those Carlos is
mentoring so they will grow in their faith and be able to assume leadership
roles in their church communities.
PHOTOS BY Morris Abernathy
Dwight & Judy HuffmanCanada
The only distance that Dwight and Judy Huffman let
come between them is the kilometers Dwight has to drive to map new places to
start churches in the sparsely-populated territories which make up Western
The couple and their two daughters consider themselves to be a tight-knit
family in spite of the large area Dwight has to cover as strategy coordinator
for the area made up of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, The
Yukon and The Northwest Territories. Dwight travels about 60,000 kilometers a
year in his car (thats 37,260 miles). His area is approximately the equivalent
of the Continental United States but has less than 140 Canadian Southern
Baptist churches and missions.
Because of those distances, occasionally driving across ice bridges to reach
villages believed to have never heard the gospel, Dwight relies on the prayers
of Southern Baptists for his safety. Having a flat tire 60 miles from the
nearest living soul can try ones spirit, as he has learned.
Dwight is pioneering a new concept to start churches in Canada. Its the same
strategy used by fur traders three centuries ago that led to the early
development of the sprawling nation.
The strategy, which is quickly catching on across the vast country, is
three-fold and includes scouting, pioneering and settling. At the heart of the
approach are the scouts.
These are people who go into a town or neighborhood in advance of a church
planter to engage in simple exploration. The uniqueness and genius of this
strategy is that it requires almost no church planting skills, he says.
Anyone can go into a neighborhood, walk and talk with God, hang around that
neighborhood and get to know the people they have met. That tells us a lot
about who lives there.
His inspiration came from reading about the coureur
de boisrunner of the woodssent out by the Hudsons Bay Company to explore new
lands in search of Aboriginals willing to barter their furs.
You had these runners who would initially identify these communities and
Then they would set up a trading post and pioneer a little group there. But
eventually, more people would come and settle and that group would grow into a
Dwights job is no easy task.
Basically Im responsible to see the day when every Canadian in Western
Canada hears the gospel from someone they trust and for every community to have
a Canadian Southern Baptist church thats equipping believers to walk with God
and hang around lost people, he explains.
Thats why Dwight stays on the road so much. But he and Judy are praying for
volunteers to come help them in the daunting task of mapping Western Canada for
Mission: To see a day when every Canadian in Western Canada
hears the gospel from someone they trust, and every community or neighborhood
has a Canadian Southern Baptist church, equipping Canadians to walk with God
and hang around lost people.
Prayer Requests: Pray that the Lord of the harvest will
send laborers to all the places which are currently being prayer walked. Pray
for Dwights safety as he travels far from home, away from his family, as there
Derek & Kimberly SpainNew Y ork
To some people, Derek and Kimberly Spain have dream jobs.
They live in a resort community that averages two million visitors a year, they
rub shoulders with Olympic athletes, and they get free access to major sporting
But those people arent standing next to Derek in knee-deep snow in 15-degree
temperatures as he gives directions to people searching for the next sporting
event. And they arent working with him as he gives up most weekends and many
weeknights away from Kimberly to take Christ to the slopes and restaurants
around Lake Placid, New York.
Being a resort missionary may be one of the most misunderstood assignments
because of all the perceived glamor. The problem with the job is that youre
working all the time and rarely get to enjoy the good life that so many
tourists come to your community to experience.
Resort missionaries are always on callespecially in communities like Lake
Placid, which are beginning to market themselves as year-round tourist
destinations. And they struggle with the same high cost of living that the
locals deal with on tight budgets.
Its one thing to escape to a resort area with a pocketful of money that
youve saved all year to spend. Its another when youre working for minimum wage
and tips, as is the rule more than the exception.
Paradise can get old after a while, but the calling to reach the tourists
and the locals for Christ makes the long hours worthwhile, he says.
Derek wears three hats in the community: resort missionary, director of
North Country Ministries and as pastor of Lake Placid Baptist Church. As
director of NCM, he ministers in the community through servant evangelism and
by providing volunteers for sports venues.
One important role the Spains fill is simply to model
Christ for new believers. Not many have seen a Christian familywarts and alland
the couple are as transparent as possible with how they relate to each other
and in how they deal with their young sons: Grant, 5, and Andy, 2.
Lake Placid is a highly unchurched area with few evangelical churches. When
a person comes to know Christ here we see an entire 180-degree change in their
life. They literally go from darkness to light, from death to life, he
Thats why its so important for Kimberly and me to model real Christianity.
These new believers have no point of reference of how a Christian deals with
the real world, and they need to observe faith in action.
Its a tremendous opportunity to be able to serve as a resort minister and
pastor, because I can see the spiritual growth that occurs in a new believers
life. I want to be there when they have problems and point them in the right
direction, so they can impact other lives that cross their paths.
Mission: To show the love of Christ in the Lake Placid
community through creative outreach so others can come to faith in Him.
Prayer Requests: Pray for continued opportunities to
minister to Olympic athletes and for opportunities to share the gospel with
people who live, work, visit and play in the Adirondack Mountains/North Country
region. Pray also for the continued growth of Lake Placid Baptist Church, so
that those who are reached will become fully devoted followers of Christ.
Mitch & Sandi BryantNevada
Pastors and their wives in Nevada are always glad to see
Mitch and Sandi Bryant pull up in their driveway. They know that they bring a
spirit of encouragement along on the 70- or 80-mile drive to their
Not many places are on the way to another place in Nevada, where jobs are
scarce and Christians are virtually nonexistent. So, they know that any visit
is a special event to be cherished and never taken for granted.
Mitch serves as associational missionary for Lahontan Baptist Association in
Fallon, Nevada, about 60 miles east of Reno. His association is one of only
four in the state and covers 27,000 miles. Rattling around in those five
counties are only 16 churches and six missions.
Two of the biggest problems are loneliness and isolation that permeate the
lives of pastors and their families, he explains.
Those are some of the biggest problems he deals with as he struggles to
stitch together a Baptist quilt thrown over this part of the state.
Mitch calls his wife my right hand and my left hand as they serve as
encouragers to pastors and spouses and provide resources and leadership
training to laity.
In addition to helping pastors wives Sandi has been instrumental in starting
several English-as- Second Language classes to help Hispanics develop their
English skills. Those classes have provided numerous witnessing opportunities
where the gospel has been sowed among the students.
Since most of the churches are small or strugglinga good livable wage is
hard to come bythe majority of pastors are bivocational. Its a mixed blessing
because it gives the pastor the visibility in the community that he needs and
pays his salary, but it takes him away from his role as shepherd, meeting the
spiritual needs of those in his congregation.
Thats why leadership training is so important. Mitch is
convinced that the way to reach Nevada is through home-grown pastors. That
includes cultivating leaders in Sunday school, evangelism, children and youth
ministries, seminary extension and discipleship training. Disaster relief also
has become a popular way of ministering in the state, and volunteers need to be
certified before they can participate.
Lay leadership is important since a bivocational pastor cannot be in every
place hes needed when hes 50 or more miles away at his secular job.
The couple is grateful for Southern Baptist support through the Cooperative
Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American
Those two are primary sources of income, Sandi explains. We would not be
here without stronger churches across the denomination supporting those
The churches in our area also give generously, but its just so hard to live
here. Theres a limit to what they can give and still make ends meet.
Mission: In his role as associational missionary Mitch
Bryant serves as an encourager to churches in isolated communities scattered
across 27,000 miles of Nevada.
Prayer Requests: Pray for pastorless churches, some of
which have been without a leader for years. Pray also for the Bryants son,
Jeffrey, who is serving in Iraq, as well as other families connected to the
military base here in Fallon whose loved ones are serving in the war.
Terrell & Vickie OBrienWyoming
Terrell OBrien never dreamed that God could use his talent as a sculptor on
the mission field. But without harnessing that skill to provide his income, he
and his family would not be ministering today in one of the nations most
Because of the commitment of Terrell and his wife, Vickie, believers have
been strengthened in their spiritual walk and many others have found new faith
in Christ. And its all because he took a step of faith that, at first, made no
sense to him.
Terrell studied commercial art and biology in college, because he wanted to
be a medical illustrator. But after he received his degree he wanted a break
from the books and returned to farming in West Texas, where he had been raised,
as he pondered his future. He kept in touch with his artistic side, however,
and eventually left farming to pursue a career in sculpting.
As his health deteroriated with a serious hypothyroid condition, he
surrendered to whatever God wanted him to do in his life. He had sensed a
calling in his early years but could never identify what God wanted him to
Through visiting a foundry in Wyoming, where his work was being cast into
bronze, he sensed a call to that state. Vickie and their four children were
shocked but after a season of prayer, decided they would leave their friends
and family and follow God to the state to their north.
There are only 90 Southern Baptist churches in the entire state, and many
are so small they cannot afford to pay a salary for a full-time pastor. That
means they rely on ministers who can eke out a living from the local economy
and serve on a bivocational basis.
Terrell and Vickie serve as tentmakersMission Service Corps missionaries who
provide their own funding in order to pursue their calling. Its not a new
In fact, the Apostle Paul modeled the approach as he planted churches
throughout the New Testament world in the early days of Christianity.
Terrell operates a sculpting studio in the small town of Lander where he
produces monumental sculptures for clients across North America. Income from
that vocation has enabled him to serve as interim pastor and as pastor of three
other churches in the past nine years.
The challenges are great, but the rewards are even greater, he says without
The people are difficult to reach, because they come from so many different
backgrounds and share a common western independent mindset. They feel that they
dont need anything or anyoneincluding Godto help them survive.
But he and Vickie have planted many seeds that are beginning to bear fruit.
Lives have been changed, churches have been stabilized and new believers have
And he owes it all to a calling and a handful of sculpting tools.
Mission: To show residents of Wyoming that Christ is truly
the only answer to their problems and to lead them to spiritual maturity
through involvement in a local church.
Prayer Request: Pray that God would continue to break down
the barriers to the gospel and give the OBriens the opportunity to minister to
people in their community. Pray for the new youth work beginning on the Wind
River Indian Reservation. Also, pray that their teenage son, David, will learn
to manage his diabetes which was diagnosed two years ago.
Jonathan Pettigrew is living proof that anyone can
take a disaster in life and turn it into a witnessing opportunity.
He doesnt remember anything about his 100-foot fallequivalent to a fall from
a 10-story buildingdown a Colorado mountain in December 2002. Friends recount
the tale to him as they watched over his lifeless body for two hours until
rescue personnel arrived.
Now a US/C2 missionary, he is a walking, talking miracle of the grace of
God. Few survive such a fall without being brain damaged or paralyzed. He
suffered a shattered right hip and broken neck, pelvis, right leg and left
Through his role as Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) Director at Indiana
University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana, he shares his walk of
faith with some of the 28,000 students who are searching for answers to life.
Rather than describing his accident as life changing he explains it as life
Jonathan, a collegiate evangelist, spends a lot of his time establishing and
leading small group Bible studies and conducting religious opinion surveys with
students on campus. Conducting surveys helps Jonathan meet students and share
his faith in Christ.
Christian college students, like many believers, tend to compartmentalize
their faith rendering it largely insignificant in their daily lives. He wants
to be a catalyst in their lives to change that mindset.
I know that I will only be here a short time, only two years. But during
that time I want to impress upon the students that a call to be a Christian is
a 24/7 calling. It permeates all of your life and reflects who you are in all
situations, he says. Service is your life. Worship is your life. Too many
Christians have this wrong mentality that says worship only happens on Sunday
morning and prayer only happens on Wednesday night.
But until worship becomes more than a service and until prayer becomes more
than a meeting and until missions becomes more than a trip, Christians are
never going to understand the depth of God in us, because Christianity is more
about being than doing.
As he establishes the universitys first BCM student
organization he encounters students who are developing values they will carry
throughout life. Jonathan wants to be sure they encounter Christ during their
stay and take Him into the markeplace where they will be future leaders in
North Americas industries and businesses.
He says his ministry focuses on two types of individuals.
My first focus is on Christian studentsto bring them to a point in their
lives where they will see they should be living the life of a missionary, right
here on campus.
The second focus is to bring the message of Jesus Christ to nonbelievers in
such an engaging fashion that they stop and think about what I have shared.
Then, as they come to faith, to mentor and disciple them.
Mission: To share Christ with the 28,000 students on the
campus of Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, as he establishes
the first Baptist Campus Ministry fellowship.
Prayer Requests: Pray that students who are searching for
spiritual truth be placed in Jonathans path, so he can share Christs riches
with them. Pray also for the development of the new BCM ministry as it reaches
out to believers and non-believers alike.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC