David & Rachel Bell | United Kingdom
HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH, SHELBY, NC
“I didn’t need to be on Facebook,” Rachel said. “But I was.”
That March day, her second-cousin had posted a status: Some people give up things for Lent. I’m giving up on life.
Rachel Bell and her husband, David, reached out to her, inviting this near stranger living in the U.K. to visit them in the U.S. She arrived two weeks later.
During her visit, she requested three American delicacies: corn dogs, a root beer float, and Nerds candy.
As they drove home after securing said root beer float, she made another startling statement.
“It’s interesting that you guys, like, do Christianity,” she said. “I don’t have a Bible. None of my friends have Bibles. Actually, I don’t know what a Bible is.”
As Rachel shared an overview of the Scriptures, her cousin seemed startled. “Wait. Are you saying Jesus was a real person? I thought He was like Santa or the Easter Bunny.”
It was then that reality struck David and Rachel and they knew they had to go. It wasn’t just this one cousin who hadn’t heard of Christ. There was an entire generation who didn’t know Jesus as a real person.
They knew they were being called, but as they pursued relocating to England, door after door slammed shut. Still the urgency grew. Finally, David decided to have a day of fasting, asking the Lord for a sign, “completely out-of-the-blue.”
At 2 p.m., David received a “random” phone call from ABWE, followed by a two-hour conversation about going. The Bells haven’t looked back since. “I knew God was telling me this was it,” David said. “He wanted us to be missionaries.”
“The people of the U.K. don’t need religion,” Rachel added. “They need relationship.”
David and Rachel were both saved as preteens. David is from Florida and Rachel is from Indiana. They now reside in Shelby, North Carolina. “We just met in the middle,” they joke.
David has spent 10 years in youth ministry, and also teaches at Gardner Webb University. Rachel teaches career and employment development part-time to adults with disabilities. They enjoy spending time with their two small children and feel strongly that they are their children’s first exposure to the gospel.
Drew & Melinda Wright |United Kingdom
LAKESIDE BAPTIST CHURCH, SALEM, VA
Drew came from a Christian home. Like everyone he knew, his family went to church every Sunday morning.
But around 5 or 6 years old, Drew started to realize something was different about his family—there wasn’t a dad.
“I knew that he was in the Army,” he said, “ so I assumed he was off on a mission.” But when he asked his mom very simply, “Where’s my dad?”, he was crushed to learn that he had died when he was an infant. Surely they could visit him in this place called “Heaven”, where Drew’s mom said he was now?
His mother took the opportunity to explain the full gospel to him from the Bible. And even though he was 6, Drew understood he had sin in his heart, and chose to accept Christ as his Savior.
He first felt the call to ministry at 16, but he didn’t know where exactly God was leading. Missionary, pastor, evangelist—they all sounded good to him. Eventually he settled on pastoral studies while attending Crown College in Knoxville, TN, where he was also involved in deaf ministry.
“I had learned some ASL from a deaf man at the church I grew up attending,” he said.
It was through this ministry he learned that there are over 70,000 deaf in the U.K.
But there are few people trying to reach them with the gospel.
Despite his protesting, Drew could feel God working in his heart, and he finally surrendered to the call during his senior year of college.
The deaf ministry was also how Drew met his wife.
Melinda accepted Christ at a young age through AWANA. After multiple closed doors as a young teen, she realized that God was leading her to deaf ministry. She graduated from Crown with a bachelors in missions with a deaf-ministry emphasis.
Her freshman year, she attended a “Fantastic Saturday”, where she heard Mickey Scrimshire’s testimony, and his broken heart for the deaf of the U.K. burdened her heart as well.
“So when Drew told me that God had prodded him to reach the deaf in the [U.K.], I could not have been more thrilled!”
“The burning question in our hearts and minds is the same question Paul asked in Romans 10:9: ‘...How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?’” Drew said.
Drew and Melinda both look forward to seeing what God is doing next in their lives.
Tyler & Kat Betz | France
SAYLORVILLE CHURCH, DES MOINES, IA
Tyler and Kat had only been dating two weeks when Tyler announced he was moving to France to serve as a short-term missionary for a year, with the intention of eventually serving long-term.
He hadn’t always been open to the idea. Though he had always felt called to ministry, but “I just knew that God would never call me to missions.” He actively disregarded any idea of serving overseas, until a letter from his father’s missionary friend changed his mind.
This friend had tried to recruit Tyler to ministry in France when Tyler was still in high school, but Tyler turned the offer down. Then he wrote to Tyler again his freshman year of college, this time with a check attached to the letter inviting Tyler to visit their field. Seeing the check prompted Tyler to think, and eventually he agreed to go.
It started with six weeks. But during those six weeks, Tyler felt a deep, rapidly growing desire to return.
As he stood in the airport preparing to fly home, Tyler knew he would be back.
“If you wouldn’t consider being a missionary to France for the rest of your life, we might as well not even date,” he told Kat the night he announced his plan to go back.
The prospect of serving full-time overseas didn’t scare Kat off as Tyler feared it might, and God used their time apart to grow and mature Kat as a believer.
Saved when she was seven, she completely surrendered her life to God while working at a Christian summer camp during her freshman and sophomore years of college.
While Tyler was away in France, she got more involved in her church, and found an older woman to disciple her. Together, they studied David Platt’s “Follow Me”. Kat said the book opened her eyes to the importance of global missions.
Kat and Tyler were engaged by the end of his short-term tour, and married soon after. Every time they have been back to France since being married, their desire to minister there has only deepened.
Daniel Winemiller | Romania
TRIAD BAPTIST CHURCH, KERNERSVILLE, NC
Daniel grew up in Romania in the late 1980s, during the overthrow of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. His family went from being well-off to having nothing. Because his parents could not feed them, Daniel and his brothers were pulled from their home by state social services and placed in an orphanage.
At the age of 5, he was adopted by a missionary couple who were unable to have children on their own. His future father met Daniel while out evangelizing, learned his story, and one situation after another led to the missionary adopting him.
Daniel has been back to Romania several times, some of those times with his adoptive parents.
“One nice thing [is] that my parents never held [my] background from me—they actually expounded on it.”
As he returns to serve full-time on the field, his heart is for street orphans—and orphans in general—and encouraging local churches in ministering to them.
Patrick Tayne | Germany
CHRISTWAY BAPTIST CHURCH, DALLAS FORT-WORTH, TX
Growing up in a gospel-centered home is what laid the foundation for the work that God would carry out later in Patrick’s life.
It wasn’t until high school that he began to truly understand what it meant to find his identity in Christ. “I didn’t do too well at that off the start,” he said. But God provided a mentor to disciple Patrick through all four years of high school, which helped him get his life “back on track” and see what it looked like to live a life fully surrendered.
In 2011, Patrick headed to the University of North Texas to pursue his high school dream of music education. During the summer between his freshman and sophomore years, God graciously revealed a different plan for his life through a missions trip to Alaska.
“From the moment I hit the ground [in Alaska], I knew that God was up to something beyond my imagination,” he said.
By the time he returned to Texas, Patrick knew God was calling him into full-time ministry. That calling only grew over the next three years as he sought God’s direction in how that would play out in his life.
He completed his undergraduate studies and began seminary the following year, where he continues to work towards his Masters in Divinity. In this same season, God also led Patrick to a small, country church just outside of Dallas-Fort Worth to serve as a worship and youth pastor.
“God blessed me beyond measure [through that small church],” he said.
Late last year, God began hinting that he had a different assignment waiting for Patrick in the future. Patrick once again began seeking where God was leading him. Then, last December, Patrick discovered ABWE and began a conversation.
“One step after another, God confirmed that this was the right path to come down, and [He has been] directing me every step of the way.”
Russell & Tori Minnick | Ireland
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF SHAWNEE, SHAWNEE, KS
The Lord used many people to convince Russell that his calling and passion was not in church music, but rather biblical studies. So he changed his major, and suffered through a 26-hour senior semester to catch up on the year he had missed.
Saved at a young age, Russell felt the call to ministry as a senior in high school. He struggled after finding out his dad was not his biological father, and found encouragement and his calling to a life of ministry through a study of Jeremiah.
“To those on Earth, I was a mistake. [But] God wanted me here, He had a plan for me, and He knew me before he formed me in the womb.”
A spring break trip to Panama City Beach during her freshman year of college spurred serious spiritual growth in Tori’s heart. After confronting anger and bitterness she had been harboring toward her absent father, the Lord led her to write a letter, telling her him exactly how she felt.
“I never sent it, but God used what I wrote to [help me forgive him],” she said.
Then, several years later, at a Christmas gathering, Tori was able to present the gospel to him. And after a long, heartfelt conversation, Tori’s father apologized to Tori for not being there.
Tori’s famous last words: “I’m never going to marry a pastor” obviously betrayed her, she said, but she has since embraced her role as a pastor’s wife and a strong spiritual leader, in her own right.
Until recently, the Lord has used the Minnick family in pastoral ministry. That call has since transitioned to missions—or perhaps, ‘pastoral missions’—in Ireland.
“God gave me a passion for the people of Ireland and a passion for seeing the gospel shared, embraced, and grown,” Russell said.
As the couple prepares to head to Ireland, Tori says she can feel God once again stretching her beyond her comfort zone.
“But that’s the amazing thing about marriage,” she said. “God brings two people together, and uses their strengths and weaknesses to stretch and grow them, for His glory.”
Like what you’re reading? Then don’t miss an issue. Subscribe to be notified when the next issue is published.