Big Dreams from a Small City

Big Dreams from a Small City

Missionary Stephen Carrier

You can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States, if you set your mind to it and work hard.” I heard these words growing up and took them directly to heart. President of the United States. Big dreams for a boy from a small city.
And yet those dreams of mine were real. Ever since I was a teenager, I knew that I was destined to be the next big thing in American politics. I came up with a plan to reach my goals and then pursued it with my whole heart.
Along the way, I got to work in a restaurant with a dishwasher named Enrique. Enrique was from Mexico, and he was my favorite dishwasher there because he was always so nice and just did his job. I was able to practice my high school Spanish with him and he would nod and laugh. Since I went to a small Christian school growing up, Enrique was really the first Spanish-speaking person with whom I came into frequent contact. I remember thinking how, if everybody from Latin America was like Enrique, then everybody from Latin America was fine by me.
Later, I had to take a couple of Spanish classes at my university, and one of the teachers challenged us to go to a Mexican restaurant and order off the menu in Spanish. I decided I was going to do that. As nervous as I was and as ridiculous as I felt, I managed to get the point across to the waiter. To my surprise, the server actually liked it! The next thing I knew, I was friends with half the staff at that restaurant and others. 
The Holy Spirit worked greatly in my life over the next year or so, and I surrendered my life to Christ and foreign missions when I was twenty years old. Through various circumstances, God let me interact with several people from Latin America. I loved their friendliness and the way they treated me like family. There is still something so special about the way their faces light up when I begin to speak in Spanish to them. It wasn’t long before I knew that this was the group of people God wanted me to reach for Him. These were my people, the ones God had given me to love. And how I do love them!
Ultimately, God has led me to Chile. But He could’ve taken me anywhere in Latin America and I would have absolutely loved it.
Maybe I could have been the president. But I know what I would’ve missed out on. I would’ve missed out on friendships with people from Latin America that are more valuable than money can buy. I would’ve missed out on learning a completely different culture full of people with open hearts who want to be a friend. 
And I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to tell those same people about the Jesus I know and serve, Who can save them from their sins. 
Did I sacrifice something to do what I’m doing? Maybe. But I wouldn’t trade what I’ve gained for anything in this world.
Not even for being the president of the United States.

Your Reasonable Service

Your Reasonable Service

-Missionary Tracy Paver

“Your reasonable service.” I stared at those three words in my Bible, overcome by their meaning. I was at a missions camp in the mountains of Tennessee. I had just graduated from nursing school the month before and figured this camp would be a welcome hiatus before I dove back into the world of nursing, NCLEX-RN exam preparation, and job interviews. But after the first camp service, I knew this wasn’t going to be the low-stakes, relaxing camp I’d imagined. A missionary preached on Romans 12:1 and challenged us to surrender to missions, to serve Jesus with our lives. And it left me feeling uncomfortable, unsettled.
Because of an American missionary who shared the Gospel with my dad in the Philippines, I had the blessing of growing up in a Christian home and getting saved at the age of seven. God would later move my family to Singapore and Indonesia, where I made a diverse group of friends, many of whom were missionary kids. The move overseas made me more aware of my spiritual surroundings, the false teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, and the world’s great need for the gospel. But the move also helped me understand in part what it was like for a missionary to leave the comfort, familiarity, and security of home to live in a foreign land, to adapt to culture, to learn a language, to share the gospel with people in darkness. Living overseas, seeing the gospel need, and counting missionary kids as some of my closest friends, helped keep my heart open toward missions. 
“But, Lord,” I thought, “You can’t possibly want me to surrender in this way. Not yet. It’s too early.” I had just finished a challenging four-year nursing program. I was at the beginning of what I hoped would be a long, successful career, either in cardiac or orthopedic nursing at some prestigious teaching hospital in the South. There would be plenty of time for missions later. But that week at camp, I couldn’t get that phrase out of my mind. Your reasonable service. Reasonable meaning rationale, sensible. As I meditated on Romans 12:1, I realized that giving my life to serve Jesus isn’t an excessive or extreme act. It is a rationale, reasonable response when I consider who I was before salvation, who God is, and what He sacrificed to save me. 
Still, I held back, wondering if I could really trust God with the surrender of my life. I was afraid of where surrender would take me, of the kind of life I would have. But it was another verse in Romans that quieted the fear in my heart. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). God had given me His very best, His most beloved Son, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That’s a good God. That’s an immeasurably gracious and kind God. That’s a God I can trust with the surrender of my life. On the last night of camp, I gave up my plans for the reasonable service of giving my life to serve the Lord as a missionary.
When I look back on that missions camp and how God worked in my heart, I am overwhelmed by His goodness. All I wanted was a week-long break from studying for the NCLEX-RN exam, but God wanted to work something else out in my life that was of far greater value. Since camp, I learned to prioritize my life differently. Instead of letting a job dictate my direction, I moved to Alpharetta, Georgia, because of a pastor, church, andmissions training program. There I knew I could get discipled, mentored, and trained for missions and ministry. I learned to balance studying at the Our Generation Training Center and serving at Vision Baptist Church while working at a local hospital and teaching in various nursing programs. I learned to be willing to serve in different capacities. And I learned, and am still learning, to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. 
God used a recent missions trip to Latin America to open my eyes to the continued need for the gospel in this region. He also showed me what He could do through the lives of faithful men and women wholly surrendered to Him. What my eyes saw affected my heart, and I began to pray and search for an opportunity to serve. And that’s when God directed my steps to Chile, a country that, despite its still predominant Catholicism and growing population of atheists and agnostics, is ripe for the harvest. 
Long before I stepped onto Latin American soil and saw the Gospel need, before I even started deputation as a missionary to Chile, God was already at work in my heart. And it began with the realization that giving my life to serve Jesus isn’t an excessive or extreme response. It is simply my reasonable service. 

-Tracy Paver

“What Are You Going to DO About That?”

“What Are You Going to DO About That?”

-Missionary Robert Becker

When I surrendered to missions, Latin America was not on my radar at all. I had my own plans, actually, but in 2017, my wife and I took a missions trip to Peru with our pastor. While there, he showed us around the ministry in Arequipa, Peru. The Lord started speaking to me about considering South America, but I still told Him that I had my own plans about where I wanted to go. 

In January 2018, my wife and I were given the opportunity to spend six months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with missionary Patrick Henry. While we were there, we got to help out in his church plant as well as visit different parts of the city. We saw a statue where people left ashes of their deceased loved ones and prayed to the statue for their souls. These people had been lied to about who Jesus really is. They believe in a Jesus who tells them they have to work their way to heaven. They do not know about the true Jesus who already paid the price for their sins and wants them to accept His free gift of salvation. This really broke our hearts and the Lord began working on us. We started praying about what the Lord would have us to do.

I can remember going all around the metro Buenos Aires area with its nearly 14 million inhabitants. Buenos Aires has a very good train system, and I used the train nearly every day with thousands of people crammed into this tiny space, barely able to breath, and feeling like we could suffocate from the heat. One day, as I was squished into this small area unable to move anything except my head, I looked around on the train and saw all these people. I thought to myself that, if they have not believed on the name of the only Son of God, they are all condemned already, as John 3:18 says. These are people’s fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. I can remember thinking that many of them would go to hell, as many have not heard the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I looked past the numbers and saw the people who have hopes and dreams and are striving for a better life, but will be unable to find it without Jesus Christ. 

At one point, I mentioned to Patrick that there was a real lack of Bible-believing, Bible-preaching churches in Buenos Aires. And he responded in a way I’ll never forget. He asked, “What are you going to do about that, Robert?” His question stuck with me as I pondered God’s direction for my life.

One day I woke up, and the still small voice of the Lord told me, “I want you here, Robert. Come back to Argentina and tell these people what I have done for them.” It was then that I surrendered myself to return to plant churches and to train men to continue in the ministry.

When you think of Latin America, do not simply think of the masses of people, but see their individual souls that are lost and in need of a Savior. And ask yourself, as I did, “What am I going to do about it?”

Souls of Honduras

Souls of Honduras

-Missionary Andrew Garcia

I was seven years old when I asked God to save me from my sins. I placed my faith in Him and in His finished work on the cross. I was saved by faith alone and not by any work or merit. Christ did all the work for me. Soon after that, I told my pastor I wanted to be a missionary; but after my parent’s divorce, I lost interest in serving God. However, when I was 15, I surrendered my life to do whatever God called me to do. 
I graduated from Pensacola Christian College with a degree in missions in 2016. Before and even after graduating, I was set on being a missionary to Japan. I started learning Japanese and studying the culture. There is certainly a great need there. After I graduated I went to Honduras as part of a mission team with Pensacola Christian College. From there, God led me to agree to stay in Honduras and teach in the Christian school there for two years. I figured it would be a good experience. During my time there, God drew my attention to the need for missions in Honduras. I also came to the realization that Honduras, like all of Latin America, has the potential to be a great sender of missionaries. There is no reason at all that God can not greatly use Latin Americans to take the gospel to the uttermost. 
From 2016 to 2018, I was a teacher at a bilingual Christian school in Honduras. I got to teach Bible to my students every morning and had some opportunities to preach in chapel.  I went out on evangelism weekly and was part of a bus route to pick up people to bring to church. I learned a lot of Spanish while I was there. 
I could tell you about the poverty in Honduras. I could tell you about the fatherless children. I could talk to you about the crime. But today I’m here to talk to you about the lost souls of Honduras. Honduras is home to over 10 million people, and while Catholicism is a little less common than it used to be, the majority of Hondurans still believe that they must do good to go to heaven. They do not know the gospel message of Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” 
I pray that God will quickly send me to the field so that I may win souls for Christ and start churches in the capital, Tegucigalpa. My main goal will be to make disciples, training men of God for the ministry. I long to see pastors who will carry the gospel throughout the country of Honduras, and God willing, throughout the entire world.

Missionary Andrew Wilder’s Steps to Latin America

Missionary Andrew Wilder’s Steps to Latin America

To be honest, in regards to how God led me to Latin America, I didn’t have this lightning bolt hit me, nor did I have this strange feeling that I should go to Bolivia as a missionary. Rather, I saw it as an opportunity to serve the Lord in a needy place. If we take the Bible literally, then we know that there is a world out there that is dying and going to hell. And it is up to us to go into all the world and tell people about Jesus. Of course, there is a need here in the States, but there is a much greater need outside of the United States.

Latin America is definitely one of those needy places. In Bolivia, where God has called me, more missionaries are needed. There are over 11 million people in the country and very few missionaries trying to reach those 11 million people. That is why I must go to Bolivia and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

Kevin White is a veteran missionary whom I got to intern with for six months in Bolivia. In the future, working in Bolivia will provide great opportunities for me to learn from his example. I believe Kevin will show me the ropes and help me avoid common rookie mistakes that new missionaries may make.

For some reason, God has always put Latin American people in my life. My best friend in middle school and high school was Hispanic. I feel like God was preparing me even back then to work with people in Latin America. I remember sitting with Hispanics at lunch and playing soccer with them as well. God has always given me a heart for people, and He led me to Latin America. Ultimately, it was God all along directing my path. I never thought I would be a missionary, but God had bigger plans than I could ever imagine. 

I got saved at the age of seven, but when I was in high school, all I wanted to do was play sports. During my senior year, I remember asking myself, “What am I going to do with my life?” This is when I began to question God’s will for my life and wondered what the next step was. I later decided to go to Reinhardt University, although I went with all the wrong motives. I went to play football. While playing in a football game one day, I got injured. I tore the labrum in my shoulder, and that meant that I had to have surgery. The surgery took place during my college Christmas break, and while recovering, I was back at my parents’ house attending my home church.

During a service, I met a missionary by the name of Brendon Wung. He was there presenting his ministry, and after the service, he spoke to my brother and me about the Our Generation Camp. At the time, I thought it would be just like any other camp, but little did I know that it would change my life forever. 

After recovering from surgery and returning for my second semester of college, I continued to seek God’s will for my life. I attended a great Baptist church that encouraged me to live my life for God, and it was during this second semester that I finally decided to do something for God. I decided to live my life for Him and not just for myself. This led to my withdrawing from Reinhardt University, as I was still considering God’s will for my life. I then began the process of joining the National Guard because I thought this was what God wanted me to do.

Around that time, the Our Generation Camp took place. This is a camp hosted by Vision Baptist Church and Vision Baptist Missions that is all about missions and the need for the gospel around the world. While at the camp, I realized that it was not God’s plan for me to join the military, but my plan alone. I had been blinded by what I wanted to do long enough and finally saw that God had been calling me to serve Him as a missionary. 

I went to get training for missions at the Our Generation Training Center for three years, and afterwards spent six months in Bolivia as a missionary intern with veteran missionary Kevin White. During my internship, God burdened my heart for the lost people of Bolivia, and I am now on my way back as a church-planting missionary!

-Andrew Wilder