Sixteen years ago I was invited to visit First Baptist Church in Gordon, Texas. For someone who grew up in Strawn, Texas, this might have appeared to be odd. Strawn and Gordon have always been rivals. However, for me I simply was curious. As a seventeen year old I had only visited a few other churches in my life. Little did I know how the experiences over the next couple of years at First Baptist Church Gordon would impact my life. I began going to youth group every week with my best friend. Each week would ride together and soon we began to make new friends. We began to find our place in the church body and before long we found our place in the pews along with the other youth group, you know those “unofficial reserved seating assignments” in Baptist Churches. We felt welcome and like FBC Gordon was our home church.
The youth minister was a man named Kevin. After going for a few months, Kevin began to give me small tasks to do for the youth group. My first task was to pick out the music before youth group began. I remember the feeling of being used and the weight of the responsibility of picking music that was relevant and cool. After a few months and a lot of DC Talk’s song, Jesus Freak, Kevin asked if I wanted to preach. Immediately I felt a new weight of responsibility. I do not remember my first sermon to my new peers, but I remember it was long and the invitation at the end of the message was very long filled with several songs. In the fall of my Senior year in high school, Kevin asked if I wanted to go to seminary with him. I remember asking, “What is seminary”? Kevin told me it was the school he went to. I asked why would I want to go to school with him, when I did not even want to go to my school. Then Kevin told me seminary was in Fort Worth and that I would have to skip school to go with him. Of course any chance to skip school is good enough reason for any high school student. So we went to Seminary along with another one of the youth group students, Jewel Bethel. Kevin wanted us to come to be a part of a class project on how students view parents. When we arrived we learned that Kevin had another class first and that he had set us up to have a meeting with a missions professor. For over an hour the missions professor told us about the importance of missions and the responsibility each believer has to share the Gospel. God began moving in our hearts during the meeting and at the conclusion of the meeting it was very clear that God was calling me to go on a mission trip.
I had no idea where to start or what to do. So I began to pray. My only knowledge of missionaries were those people who came to church once a year and gave a long presentation with lots of pictures. I remembered that everyone one of the missionaries either went to China or Africa. So it seemed pretty obvious to me that God wanted to me to go Africa. After a few weeks of searching we found a trip and shared with our parents our desire to go to Africa. My parents were very supportive of this call and I began to raise funds. We needed $3,500.00. I spent the rest of the fall trying to raise money as best I knew how. I remember the Sunday before the money was due. We were still several thousand dollars short of our goal and had only one day to raise the remainder of the money. The pastor of FBC Gordon informed the church of our need and at the conclusion of the service all the money had been given.
It was while I was in Africa that I felt the call to missions. I spent two weeks in Kenya. In the middle of the trip one day while we were traveling to the village I noticed that there were so many people working in their homes. I asked why the people where not coming to Holiday Bible Club. Immediately after I asked this question the cab driver turned to me and said, “Because if they do not work they do not eat”. It was the first time in my life I understood the real meaning of poverty. God began working in my heart that day. He gave me a vision of missions. The vision was to help people with their food so that we can have the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus.
I returned to the States with a purpose and vision. Of course it took a couple of years for me to fully understand what God was calling me to do. Over the next couple of years Kristi and I married and we graduated from Tarleton State University. I earned a degree in Agronomy and Kristi earned her teacher certification. We also began to serve in the church. I did not know when we were going to go to the mission field, but I felt like God wanted me to serve in the church until he called us. I was called on staff at my first church right out of high school. Next we served in Bluff Dale for four and half years. While we were on staff at Bluff Dale we met Michael Jones. He was our pastor for the last three years we were at Bluff Dale. After Bluff Dale we served on staff in Teague. It was while we were in Teague that God called us to serve in Honduras as missionaries.
As we began to prepare to serve in Honduras we soon realized that we were going to have to raise the funds for the ministry. After six months of planning and attending various seminars we made our first visit to a church to share our calling. Since FBC Gordon had made such an impact on our lives, it was the logical first place to start. So we made the journey from Teague to Gordon in August 2010. Our visit was unannounced. It had been almost 15 years since we last worshiped at FBC Gordon and almost five year since we had last seen Michael Jones, who was now serving as pastor of Gordon. When we arrived at the church we found Michael and briefly shared with him the purpose of our visit. He immediately asked if we would be willing to share our vision with the church. This was such a blessing because we realize how special it is for a pastor to change the order of service just minutes before the service starts. It was such an amazing moment to stand before the church that had influenced our life so much and share what God was calling us to do.
Shortly after our visit Michael called and informed us that the church at Gordon wanted to become a prayer and financial partner of our calling. Michael also told us the church wanted to do more than support us from a distance, but they wanted to serve with us in Honduras. Two years later in August 2012 FBC Gordon brought a team to serve with us in Gracias. The team of seven helped a local church remodel the outside of the church building, made visits with the pastor of the church to church members and other families of the community, and they hosted a four day revival service at the church.
It is amazing to see that what God started 17 years ago with an invitation to church has become a partnership in fulfilling the Great Commission and making the name of Jesus famous in all the earth. It is also a reminder that discipleship is a process, many times a slow process. It is great to see how God worked in the life of two young teenagers, how a church ministered, and how these things lead to a ministry in Honduras. Thank you FBC Gordon for all your support. We know this is only the beginning of our story. We look forward to see how we can be used for the glory of God in the next 17 years of this story.