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Andalusia’s Hopewell Baptist sends 40 members on 15 missions trips in 10 yearscomment (0)

December 15, 2011

By Gary Hardin

How did a small, rural church outside Andalusia send 40 members on 15 missions trips to 12 countries in the past 10 years?  

Most folks at Hopewell Baptist Church would bring up Phyllis Walters’ testimony.

Before 2001, no one at the Covington Baptist Association church had ever gone on a missions trip. But that year, Walters’ uncle invited her to take part in a missions trip to Honduras. There she helped cook meals for a church construction crew from Georgia and Florida. The trip, and what she saw God do, set her on fire spiritually.

“When Phyllis returned, I asked her to share a testimony from her missions trip,” Pastor Barry Wilkinson said. “Her testimony got people excited, and it also convicted other members to go on missions trips.”

Not long after Walters gave her testimony, four church members participated in an Alabama Baptist partnership missions trip to Venezuela. They returned and shared their experiences. Soon other members signed up for missions trips. They shared their testimonies, which prompted more members to go.

In fact, in the past 10 years, Hopewell Baptist members have done short-term missions in Honduras, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Poland, China, Uganda, Zambia, Japan, Panama, Ukraine and Haiti. A group will return to Haiti in early 2012.

Jan Gager, a church member and nurse, went to Ecuador for the first time in 2003 on a medical missions trip. Since then, she has gone back three times, doing both medical and English as a Second Language ministries.
“God has given me a heart for the people of Ecuador,” Gager said. “I am amazed how God has used me.”

Tara Bulger stepped out of her comfort zone to go to Haiti, where she taught Bible studies to women. Before this trip, Bulger had never been away from her preschooler, flown on an airplane or been outside the United States.

“I’m quite the homebody,” she explained. “A small-group study of the book ‘Radical’ made me aware I needed to do something for others. I prayed and prayed about going to Haiti, and God gave me the courage to go. And I didn’t get homesick.”

Glen Walters has participated in several missions trips to Honduras and Haiti to work on construction projects. He has helped build a Christian radio station, housing at a Christian camp, a missionary house and churches.

“On a trip to Honduras, I was a crew leader with one missions trip under my belt. We had no interpreter, no place to stay, and we endured a long bus ride to our work site. We really were operating by faith,” he said. “But God provided everything we needed. Even the pilot of our plane helped us find a hotel to stay in.”

So why do so many church members keep going on missions trips?

Longtime members Marcus and Joyce Godwin credit Wilkinson’s leadership and, of course, God’s direction.

“When I came to this church, I never imagined we would see God taking us in this direction,” Joyce Godwin said.

Lori Foreman, who grew up in the church, said, “It’s been incredible to see our church’s missions journey. We now view ourselves as a missions control center.”

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