David Godwin, 39, sales manager for a food distribution company called The
Dinner Bell, used to be a workaholic.
He worked 12-hour days seven days a week chasing the almighty dollar. He
still is a workaholic of sorts, only now he chases the Almighty.
In September 1997, and scared to death, David accompanied team leader Bob
Barks and several other members of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte,
North Carolina, on a short-term mission trip to Guatemala. Hes never been the
I had never been out of the countryor out of the region!when I sensed God
calling me to go, David said. For the first month, I tried to back down, but
God was pulling on me. David went on that first mission trip, and it changed
the course of his life. I went, and it increased the burden and fire to go
back, David said. God gave me a new understandingI was able to see God work
like I had never known.
A busy sidewalk in New York City is transformed into a prayer
station as Hickory Grove students pray and share Christ with
For a person who had spent most of his life devoted to his work in order to
increase his buying power, seeing the abject poverty of Guatemalans was a
I saw people who did not have little, they had nothing, David said. But they
talked about how God had blessed them. They had nothing, and they were content.
I felt so ashamed. It was completely different from what I had and what my
desires were. Now my attitude toward money and possessions is completely
In addition to his new attitude about stuff, David discovered another
Its so much easier to share the gospel at home now that I have been on a
mission trip, David said. The first time I led someone to Christ was in
Guatemala. I was very scared. I was fumbling through the Romans Road.
I finally got through it, and she wept and said, I need Jesus. I started
crying too. It was so easy because it wasnt my words, God did all the work. She
saw it in my eyes.
Two days after David returned from that first trip, excited and animated, he
told one of his customers at work about his experience. The customer was
interested so David did something he had never done before.
I asked him if he knew Christ, David said. He didntI didnt dare do this
beforeand he accepted Christ! Now I share Christ because I care, not out of
duty. God has given me the compassion. I dont know how God would have done that
without the mission trips. Id go on every trip out if I could.
Since that first trip, David and his wife, Joy, have been on one or two
trips per year to Guatemala and Kenya. Davids heart is tugged daily by the
needs he has seen in the several mission trips he has taken.
Ive been in garbage dumps and seen whole families dig for food. Ive seen
birds fighting kids for food, David said, his voice catching. You cant see that
and not be changed.
David returned from Kenya last year with malaria. Although he was sick for
weeks and lost 30 pounds, he thanks God for it.
I live in an air-conditioned home and drive an air-conditioned car. I spent
two days in the hospital to get well. People in Kenya stand in line in the hot
sun for days waiting to see a doctor. My malaria gave me more compassion not
just for Kenyans but for people here at home. I look at homeless street people
differently now. I no longer judge them. If God lays something on my heart, I
have to do it.
David feels a strong call to missions. If I felt God calling me to stay in
Guatemala, I would stay. I honestly feel like I could do that, no problem.
I feel Gods eventually going to let us (David, Joy, and 10-year-old
Brittany) stay somewhere, David said. Peace comes from knowing youre right
where God wants you to be. For now, Im right where God wants me to be.
An on mission church
strategyDavid Godwin and 600 others from Hickory Grove Baptist
Church went on one of 34 church-sponsored, short-term mission trips overseas
and stateside in the year 2001. God has us on a fast track, said Bob Barks, 62,
Hickory Groves minister of missions. When Bob retired from business in 1993 and
joined Hickory Grove, there was little missions emphasis. Over the next several
years, at first as a volunteer and with a budget that came from his own pocket,
Bob aimed to light a fire for missions at Hickory Grove.
His strategy was simple: educate, motivate and take as many with you as you
can. Returning missionaries became his best advertisements. The flame spread
In less than seven years, Hickory Grove has increased its annual missions
budget from $150,000 to more than one million dollars.
Were not a big church, were a blessed church, says Pastor Joe Brown. God has
blessed us with talent and were obligated to share that with the world. Brown
regularly reminds his church of the words of International Mission Board
president, Jerry Rankin, who says the Great Commission was given to the local
church, not to an agency.
Tips for successful short-term
tripsAssume people want to go. People today, especially the 25-
to 40-year-olds, are not satisfied with only sending money. They want to go and
see where their money goes.
Develop partnerships with missionaries on the field. Go on the first mission
trip to a new area. Work with the missionary and find out the needs. Hickory
Grove makes a five-year commitment to keep sending teams and helping out.
Be flexible. Dont go in with your own agenda. Ask the missionaries what
needs to be done. Tell them what resources you have to offerworship team,
drama, puppets, construction crews, evangelism, prayer-walking teamsand then
recruit people to match their requests.
How mission trips can benefit your churchs outreachIt
revitalizes the church. God will bless the church that fulfills the Great
Commission, Bob believes. Hickory Grove has grown dramatically in membership
and giving since instituting a missions program. Changed lives result in a
changed church, Bob said.
Its a way for people to hear Gods call to full-time missions. The
International Mission Board reports that the majority of their missionaries are
people who discovered their call during a short-term mission trip.
In a span of eight months in 2000, Hickory Grove sent three full-time
missionaries to the field. They are currently preparing to send two more
couples and two individuals.
It develops leaders. When people return from a trip, they take on leadership
roles in Sunday school and other ministries. Hickory Grove follows the FAITH
evangelistic model for visitation and 75 percent of the people involved have
been on a mission trip.
It increases evangelism. People are no longer intimidated about sharing
their faith once they have been on a mission trip. The confidence they gain
overseas gives them courage at home.
It brings renewal. People return from a mission trip so excited about their
relationship with Christ, Bob said. They are on fireyou cant hold them
How your church can get
involved in short-term missionsLearn from others. If you are a
small church with little or no missions budget, start by sending people along
with one of the regular groups from Hickory Grove or another church in your
area that has a short-term mission program. Once a few people have experienced
a taste of missions, they will want to organize a group in their own
Pray about Gods destination for your group. God will reveal to your church,
through prayer, the place He wants you to serve. State conventions and local
Baptist associations sometimes establish partnerships with other North American
associations or fellowships as well as specific nations around the world. Check
to see if your church can participate in a joint venture or meet a particular
Attend a Team Leaders Training Seminar. These are offered at Hickory Grove
in the spring and the fall. There is no cost.
Global Focus is an organization that conducts seminars with both IMB
and NAMB on how to grow a Great Commission church and make a global impact. To
find out more about the Global Focus Leadership Seminars, mail your inquiry to
Global Focus, P.O. Box 2428, Woodstock, GA 30188, or request information by
phone 770-592-7011 or fax 770-592-7299.
Attend an On Mission Celebration (OMC). An OMC is designed to mobilize
participants and lead churches to make a commitment to be on mission with God.
To locate an OMC near your church or to host an event, call the OMC office at
Get started by using tested materials. Visit the North American Mission
Boards volunteer Web site at www.namb.net/vols/logistics and download the Volunteer
Mobilization Project Logistics Manual for an indepth guide to planning a
mission trip. For a list of current volunteer needs in North America visit
subscribe to OnSite by calling 800-462-VOLS (8657) or register
For a list of international volunteer opportunities call 800-888-8657 or
visit www.imb.org/vim/default.htm. The International Mission Board has a
guide to prepare your church for short-term mission trips overseas.
Connie Cavanaugh is a writer and
speaker living in Cochrane, Alberta.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC