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Stoudenmires named Alabama Baptist Volunteers of the Yearcomment (0)

December 2, 2010

By John Evans

Laurelle Stoudenmire was afraid.

Only a few weeks into her service as an International Mission Board (IMB) representative to Guatemala, Stoudenmire found herself sitting in a hospital, surrounded by an unfamiliar language, as her husband, Allen, was treated for heart problems.

She opened her Bible, began reading and was strengthened by verses urging her not to fear.
“God just spoke to me clearly through those verses that I was not to fear being in Guatemala and serving Him,” Stoudenmire said.

On Nov. 16 at the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s annual meeting, she and her husband were honored for their decades of service to the Lord in Alabama, the United States and the world. They were named the Alabama Baptist Volunteers of the Year by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ office of global missions.

Reggie Quimby, director of the office of global missions, said the Stoudenmires are dedicated to all areas of missions and lead others to do the same.

They both felt called to missions as teenagers, and after they married, they volunteered for local and state missions trips over the years. Laurelle Stoudenmire, inspired by her mother’s involvement with Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), began serving as director of WMU for Thomasville Baptist Church and Clarke Baptist Association in 1988.

It wasn’t until 1999, when their daughter and her husband were appointed as Southern Baptist representatives to the Philippines, that the Stoudenmires became more personally involved in international missions. “We would visit them as often as possible, and seeing their work in the Philippines encouraged us,” Allen Stoudenmire said.

Concerned with the difficulties they saw the parents of those serving the Lord overseas facing, the couple helped found the Alabama chapter of the Missionary Parents Fellowship, a support group in which to share concerns and minister to each other. Allen Stoudenmire was president of the chapter from 2000 to 2004.

“We found that it was difficult for some parents to accept their child’s calling to foreign missions,” he said. “It was a problem but meeting together, sharing concerns and just discussing the work of our children on the missions field was a big help.” But the Stoudenmires knew the call to missions was not just for their daughter and son-in-law. Laurelle Stoudenmire began serving as a trustee with the IMB in 1999, retiring in 2006 so that she and her husband could begin serving the Lord overseas.

That same year, the couple were appointed as representatives to Guatemala under the IMB’s Masters Program, a two-to-three-year term of overseas service for qualified candidates over 50 years of age.

“We served with a project called Operation Gospel Outreach,” Allen Stoudenmire said. “Our job was to lead volunteer teams that came from the States on a weekly basis; we would lead those teams out into various parts of Guatemala, doing door-to-door evangelism, distributing gospel material, prayer walking and encouraging home Bible studies.”

The Stoudenmires’ term ended in 2008, but their heart for Guatemala remained. In particular, they were burdened for a small mountainside village called Conevisa, where they had taken a volunteer team.

“God burdened our hearts for it,” he said. “It had a reputation for prostitution and drug activity.”

So the couple went back to Conevisa in 2009 with members of their home church; First Baptist Church, Moody; and First Baptist Church, Ashville.

They have since led six volunteer teams from the churches. Partnering with Shalom Baptist Mission in Guatemala, the teams have done everything from door-to-door evangelism to Vacation Bible School to a medical clinic. Currently a church building is being constructed. The last volunteer trip in October, which focused on construction, involved 11 churches from the United States.

“God has had His hand on [our work there] in so many ways,” Allen Stoudenmire said.

The Stoudenmires also continue to be involved in missions on the state and local levels, working with Thomasville Baptist and Clarke Association. Projects include a church plant in Arizona, a local elementary school that Thomasville Baptist adopted and possible opportunities to start a church plant in Alabama.

She is thankful God continues to provide opportunities to serve locally and in Guatemala.

“It’s a wonderful experience just to know God is continuing to use us,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to feel like in retirement years, there’s not anything left to do, but we find there is quite a bit from the Lord that we are able to do.”

She said it’s important for all believers in Christ to lay down their lives and follow Him, whether locally, in their state, in America or around the world. It’s a principle by which she and her husband strive to live, and she doesn’t show any sign of regret. “I think the blessings that come from being obedient to what Jesus commanded us to do are just innumerable.”

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