Caleb & Alair Mitchell | JamaicaBlackhawk Ministries, Fort Wayne, IN
For seven years, Caleb and Alair served as missionaries in Uganda working with orphan children. They adopted two Ugandan sons, and a month after their adoption was finalized — after years of trying — they had their first biological child. Then, three months after their first daughter was born, Caleb got very sick and had to be evacuated back to the United States.
Although their adopted sons had been living with them for six years, the Mitchell’s did not have visas for their adopted sons, and when Alair applied for temporary visas so they could join Caleb, their request was denied out of fear they were trying smuggle Ugandan children. Alair was told that the process to get a visa would take about 10 months, so she was forced to stay behind with their sons while Caleb lay in a hospital in the US.
Caleb was diagnosed with HLH — a perfect storm of typhoid and malaria that created an overwhelming immune response in his body, causing it to attack itself and shut down. After seven weeks with HLH, there is 100 percent mortality rate, but Caleb was diagnosed at five and half weeks.
“The Lord spared him,” said Alair.
God also cut the estimated wait of their visas to two months, so Alair and their children were able to return to the states to support Caleb as he recovered.
While Caleb was not permitted to go back to Africa because of his weakened immune system, they still had missions on their hearts and prayed for where God was calling them to serve. As Caleb’s health improved, they felt God leading them to Jamaica, which does not have the health concerns of Africa and gives Caleb access to American medicine within an hour flight. It also offered the opportunity for Caleb and Alair to pursue their passion for ministering to and through the local church. They hope to come alongside Jamaican pastors and churches to develop discipleship and evangelism programs — which will include youth mentorship.
Rich & Cherry Smithwww.RichAndCherry.org
West Bridge Church, Danville, IN
Rich and Cherry are high school sweethearts who met in a vibrant youth group. They knew what a pivotal point high school and college can be for so many young people, so after they were married and had two daughters, they began working with their high school youth at their church.
As the years passed, they served in a number of capacities in their churches, but they kept coming back to high school and college ministry. Through their time as youth leaders, they had several opportunities to take students on short-term mission trips.
“Seeing the impact of those mission trips on their lives and on our lives, really opened our eyes to second-career missions,” said Rich.
Rich had a successful career in finance, but Latin America got a hold of their hearts and God began calling them and opening doors for them to pursue missions.
“We’re almost 50 and we’ve realized that God has not called us into a comfortable life. We have recognized that God can call us at any age and we must listen and we must respond,” said Rich. “I’m learning what it means to really have faith in Him and not in a good job or a full bank account.”
On the field, they will be using their passion for youth ministry and business ministry to help with church planting and discipleship.
“We’re excited to see a glimpse of what God is doing around the world and being able to play a small part in it,” said Cherry. “We know He has a plan and He will sustain us.”
Jenn Taylor | Chile
Calvary Baptist Church, Guelph, ON
At 15, Jenn, a pastor’s kid, felt called to missions during her first missions trip. She spent six weeks in Brazil and knew that’s what God was calling her to, but she soon developed health problems that kept her from going to the field.
Constant surgeries meant she couldn’t pursue missions abroad, so she began working with children’s ministry in her local church. She did that for nearly nine years until circumstances led her to take a job at a pregnancy care center for at-risk youth. The center provided housing, life-skills training, and counseling for young mothers to help them break the cycle of poverty, addiction, and abuse. It was challenging but meaningful work.
Then, Jenn’s health vastly improved. For the first time in her life she is not living in chronic pain, and she was finally able to pursue God’s call to international missions.
Through much prayer and time in God’s word, God called Jenn to Iquique, Chile where she will work with the children’s ministry at the local church. She will also assist with ABWE’s new prenatal and family counseling center where she can use her recent experience at the pregnancy care center — time that she had once thought was wasted.
“I love the next generation. That’s why I do children’s ministry,” Jenn said. “I see the opportunity for God to work in their lives in a way that they never walk away and can walk with God throughout their entire life.”
Oto & Sarah Guanilo | ArgentinaNorthside Baptist Church, Waterloo, ON
Sarah grew up in a Christian family, but it wasn’t until she was 15 that she first saw the love of Christ being truly lived out at a friend’s church. She wanted to be like that, and Sarah started getting heavily involved in the church.
After high school, Sarah felt God calling her to Word of Life in Argentina, and despite not knowing the language or anyone there, she felt at peace as she boarded the plane. She quickly fell in love with the country and its people and felt God calling her to be a missionary in Argentina. God used the school to begin her training and to introduce her to Oto.
Born in Peru before his family moved to Argentina, Oto dedicated his life to serving the Lord at 18. After he graduated high school and began college, God put a desire in his heart to study at Word of Life. He was already a youth leader, but he knew that he could be a better leader and teacher with more Bible education and training.
“At Word of Life, my life and ministry changed completely,” said Oto. “I learned how to have discipline and do devotionals, and I developed a deeper understanding and love of God’s word.”
Oto and Sarah united over their shared passion for ministering to the Argentinian people, and they began to pray for where God was calling them to minister. God placed upon their heart a town in northeastern Argentina, in one of the country’s poorest province — both economically and spiritually. It had very few Bible-believing churches, and Oto and Sarah felt God calling them to minister and plant a new church there.
To prepare, they took a training internship at a recently-planted church in Buenos Aires. They served in every aspect of the church ministry for three years until they felt God telling them they were ready to begin their own ministry in northeast Argentina.
“While we only found three gospel believing churches in the capital of the northeast region, the people there are very open to talking about the gospel. The doors are wide open,” said Sarah. “We have a heart for church planting, evangelism and discipleship, and we’re eager to get started.”