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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

‘Paint talks’ aid Westwood staff member, former missionary in spreading gospelcomment (0)

January 30, 2003

By Jill Puckett


For John Wiley, no matter where he serves, business is a matter of ministry.

Wiley joined the staff of Westwood Baptist Church in Birmingham in November 2002 as minister of education and administration. Previously, he and his family spent 18 years on the Brazilian missions field.

“This is my first church position. I went to the missions field as a layman, and I was called in the area of business,” Wiley said. “I was the missions administrator [in Brazil].  When we felt led to come back, that’s the area I looked.”  

Wiley and his wife, Nancy, are both Alabama natives. He was called to missions while serving at Old Spanish Fort Baptist Church in Baldwin County. Though he was a salesman for a Mobile company, he sensed God’s call as he taught Sunday School and worked with RAs.

“We were studying about missionaries and the typical things you normally think about missionaries — evangelists, church planters, doctors, nurses — those types of things, so I wondered how God could use me on the missions field,” he said. But after contact with the International Mission Board (IMB), Wiley said the position of business administrator seemed to be the perfect fit.

So Wiley, along with wife and three young sons, moved to New Orleans to attend the Baptist Theological Seminary in 1983. The next year the IMB appointed them as missionaries, and they moved to Brazil.

In Brazil, the Wileys first lived in Recife.  John worked in administration, directing the administrative affairs for missionaries in six northeastern states. In 1998, Brazil’s three Baptist missions regions merged into one administrative center in Brasilia, so the Wileys moved again.

Wiley also has a passion for religious education through Sunday School.

Richard Holcombe, pastor of Westwood Baptist, said Wiley has already been a positive addition to the church staff. “He has the heart to go along with the mind [for ministry], and his experiences on the missions field are already paying off,” Holcombe said. “He shows tenacity and knows the flow of church work.”

Wiley developed curriculum and taught while in Brazil. “I feel that is the basis for everything we do at church. Bible study — that’s how we grow a church, that’s how we disciple, and that’s how we evangelize,” he said.

Wiley joins Westwood with strong belief that his experiences in Brazil will have fresh impacts on the vicinity.

“On the missions field, we did not always have everything available to us that you have here. So there was a certain amount of creativity that you had to use. I hope I can maybe use that creativity to bring some new ways to the communities that are around us,” Wiley said. Two-thousand member West­wood Baptist Church has faced new challenges as its neighborhood has undergone transition, and Wiley said this transition is part of what drew him there.

“When the pastor told me that they were in a transitioning neighborhood, and when he told me that they were going to minister to the community here, he felt that possibly my experience on the missions field would be a benefit, working with different types of people. And that was very attractive to me,” Wiley said.

Although family issues contributed to their move, Wiley said he and Nancy, who is now a secretary at Westwood, held being in God’s will as the main concern for their move.

“Over two years ago we began to pray about where God would use us. After having invested 18 years of my life in Brazil, I have a deep love for the country and for the people and for the work that we did there. We were greatly blessed during our time there.”

The ‘Jesus’ film has proven to be a helpful evangelistic tool in Wiley’s ministry. “In addition to that, usually when the film was over, we would do a thing called illustrative painting or paint talks,” Wiley said. 

Paint talks, which are a powerful blend of visual and audio teaching, usually take place at night in an outdoor setting.

On a simple, large board, the speaker places a partially completed painting with bright, iridescent colors and a black light. He or she then paints the missing pieces of letters and pictures while presenting the plan of salvation. “While you’re talking, you’re also painting, and it comes out showing a message,” Wiley explained.

Wiley wants this evangelistic tool to reach communities in Birming­ham. He soon plans to join with other churches in the area to present God’s love for the world.

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