Melanie McGibbon | ChileSHORT-TERM SPOTLIGHT: 1-year term
Melanie maps her journey to missions through three friends: Jessica, Julie, and Angela.
Melanie was raised in a very legalistic church, and when her pastor announced he was divorcing his wife (when she was 10 years old), she was left with a lot of questions. Also following the shocking announcement, her parents pulled her out of her church’s private school and put her in public school—and stopped going to church as often.
Then they moved to New York, where Melanie would meet Jessica, whose entire family had recently accepted Christ as their Savior. Jessica strongly encouraged Melanie to go with her to the Southern Baptist State Youth Convention.
“There, I heard the gospel again—this time, without all the baggage and legalism of my upbringing.” She accepted Christ that weekend. A few years later youth leaders encouraged her to attend Word of Life Bible Institute.
That’s where she met Julie. The daughter of missionaries to Argentina, Julie was born with a hole in her heart, leading her family to return to the States for the needed surgery.
“She was very encouraging as far as missions,” Melanie said. It was during a visit to the Christian missionary school where Julie worked in Argentina that confirmed the call to missions for Melanie.
After spending two years as an ESL and math teacher at the school, Melanie returned home and applied to be a full-time missionary in Argentina.
Recently, however, things changed, and God suddenly closed the door on going back. Confused, Melanie confided in her roommate, Angela (who currently serves with ABWE at the Santiago Christian Academy). “I’m done,” she said. “I’m not going to be a missionary [anymore].”
Through the encouragement of a good friend of Angela’s, however, and the wise counsel of Melanie’s pastor and missions committee, Melanie decided instead to seek where God may be leading her to next. It was then that he led her to ABWE, and then the Santiago Christian Academy.
Evan & Rachel Bachtold | IrelandSHORT-TERM SPOTLIGHT: 3-year term
Evan initially didn’t know what exactly it was going to look like, but he knew God was calling him to ministry. Now looking back, they can see how God has used the past five years to prepare them for their upcoming journey.
Three years after they got married, Evan and Rachel followed God’s call to move from their home in Illinois to Harrison, Tennessee. While there, Evan pursued a master’s in biblical studies, and they both got involved in several studies through their small group at the church they attended.
After the birth of their first child, Evan and Rachel decided to move back to Illinois to be closer to family as, ironically, Evan was offered a job at the same time from a company that was looking to fill a sales position in Illinois.
In 2016, they were thankful for good insurance from Evan’s new job as it covered much-needed procedures/surgeries to put an end to Evan’s seizures.
In 2017, an associate pastor position opened at their church. Although Evan had reservations, he applied for the position. But after much prayer and counsel, he realized God was not opening that door for him.
The search for where God was leading them in ministry carried over into this year, when a Google search unearthed an opportunity to serve in Ireland where his training and education would be put to good use. “I read the description of the needs and said, ‘That’s me!’”
“Evan came to me and asked, ‘What do you think about being missionaries in Ireland? And by the way, I already applied,’” Rachel laughed.
Rachel grew up in a very legalistic church, which she left after discovering “a different side of Christianity” at a Christian summer camp in her late teens. Shortly afterwards, she began dating Evan, and was re-baptized at their church in Tennessee, which had become a second family to her.
Being one who would be content to live a normal, routine life, she said she can feel God “stretching” her through this new journey, softening her heart towards missions and continuing to confirm in both of them that this is His will for their lives.
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