Into All the World

Mothers waiting for food and supplies.
Mothers waiting for food and supplies. (Photo by Tiffany Sexton Riggs, Cuenca, Ecuador)

World missions…how do you feel about them? There are those who think we should deal first with the problems on our own doorstep. Why travel to a foreign country? We have hungry, homeless, hurting people within walking distance, or at least a few miles away in our inner cities. Spend your time and money there, they say.

What if your boss called you into his office, and said, “We need you in Tokyo for a few days, to help set up our new software”–? Would you say, “No sir–our corporate money is better spent here, to upgrade our systems. Let them take care of their own needs.” I feel I can accurately predict what would happen to you, as an employee of said corporation.

So if God calls one of us to drop everything we’re doing and head to Nepal, carrying a message for the Nepalese and whatever else you can take with you to meet their dire needs, would you make the above retort, or would you say, “Yes, Sir…I’ll go pack my bags.”

This is what many have done before us. Packed their bags, updated their passports, and luggage-22901_1280made the trip they felt God impressed upon them to make. For this reason, I support world missions with money and prayer. I also support inner city missions in the same way. Many of my friends and local church members give enormous blocks of time to feeding the homeless and the hungry. They’re taking the Word of faith and hope to those in the greatest need within our own community.

In the 1980s, my husband and I took our three young sons on a summer mission trip to El Paso, Texas. Daily, we crossed the border into Mexico, carrying Bibles, food, and Phil-Mexlaborers to help those in dire need. It was a learning experience for me. Though I grew up in a low-income home situation, I had never witnessed such severe poverty. But I was surprised to find smiling, welcoming faces, even in some of the worst situations. Our presence sparked hope. Help, though temporary, had come to them.

Yes, by all means, support home missions. Contribute your time and money to the hurting and homeless and hungry. But remember that when our director (God) calls, we should answer, no matter where He’s sending us. Refusing to go probably won’t have the same effect as it would on your boss at work. But you could end up in the belly of a whale.

whale-303626_1280Wait–don’t know what I’m talking about? You can read it for yourself, in Jonah (Old Testament). Jonah was called by God to carry a message to Nineveh. He had an opinion about the call, which he made known right away, then proceeded to high-tail it in the opposite direction. His disobedience not only caused loss and destruction to all those around him, but also great discomfort and near death to Jonah. And a severe bellyache to the previously-mentioned whale.

Now, I’m not saying that something like this would happen to you if you refused God’s direction for your life. Not at all. But I have a pretty good idea you’ll be more at peace with yourself when you live the life God has planned for you.

WinterRoadMaybe you’re there right now–living in the wrong place–God called, and you said, “No.” In the interim, you supported the missions of others, perhaps out of guilt, but it still counts. You tried to make amends for your disobedience. But something was missing in your life, and now you’re filled with regret. This is something between you and the Father. You can make it right by asking His forgiveness and making yourself available now. But you’re afraid. He may ask you to give up everything you’ve worked so hard to obtain. He might, but I have a feeling you passed that door long ago. He will forgive you, but someone else accepted the call in your place. They’re the ones who will reap the rewards of obedience. But you can still have peace in knowing you’re forgiven, and your path–though different–is still blessed.

There will always be those who disagree with your pursuit, whatever it may be. But I encourage you to seek God’s will for your life and be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Because you’re an ambassador, and as such, you’re on call. He may only be asking for your support to send someone else, or for your prayers and encouragement for those who are sent. But be assured, God is not above sending a whale to swallow you up, if enough lives hang in the balance. That’s the bottom line. Because He loves those who are hurting, he sends those who know how to love.

EcuadorChurchThe road to Ecuador – for more information about my upcoming trip to Cuenca, Ecuador:

When You’re Not Looking

cat-393294_1280You know how it is. Something you’ve wanted for so long suddenly drops into your life when you’re not looking.

That’s how it was when I met my husband. I wasn’t looking. Though I was still very young, I’d pretty much given up on ever finding that perfect someone. But there he was. Three months later, we were married. Forty-one years later, we’re still married.

But I wasn’t looking. We strive for success. Work hard for recognition and promotions, only to lose out to someone else. It’s discouraging, sometimes even heartbreaking, to watch others around you celebrate their accomplishments, their big sales numbers, and you wonder if it will ever happen for you. Then one day, when you’re not looking for it…there it is.

But some of life’s successes are temporary–trophies to display on one’s mantle–and later to pack away in the attic or toss in the trash. If you never won a trophy, made top rep, or got to sit at the head of the corporate table, you can get pretty discouraged. That’s the trouble with contests–there’s only one winner. All the others are basically…losers. My second-grade teacher had an idea about that. She’d made sure every child in our class won something, everyday of the school year. Each week, the class held an election. By the end of the year, each one of us had served as class president.

award-148961_1280I remember that feeling of pride, standing at the front, holding a blue ribbon for my perfect spelling paper. And the day they voted for me to be class president–I smiled for hours.

The truth is, it doesn’t take that much to make another person feel special. I’ll never forget that wonderful teacher. She inspired me. l wish she’d been in my life a little longer. Are you a parent, a teacher, a coach? Do you seek to inspire those entrusted to your care? I encourage you to do so!

manta-91745_1280In a few months, I’m headed to Cuenca, Ecuador for a few days. I’ll be speaking to a group of women, and whatever else we can find to do. I hope to carry a message that will inspire and encourage those to whom I am sent. A message like the one I received from that beloved teacher. Everyone can be a winner.

Abuse is a worldwide problem, especially for women. In some countries, though, women have more difficult lives. Many of the situations are universal. Since being asked to speak to these women, I’ve been researching the problems that are relevant to them. I can’t solve those problems, but perhaps I can encourage some to think differently. About themselves, about their life.

What does that have to do with NOT LOOKING? I wasn’t looking for this opportunity. It kind of dropped into my lap. Totally unexpected. But I’ve accepted the challenge and now I’m determined to do my best.

If you’re reading this and you know what it’s like to endure the pain of abuse, then please pray for me that I will know how to minister to and encourage these dear ladies. That’s my heart’s cry. For more information about our upcoming trip to Ecuador, please check out our Facebook page and

A New Book

PattiThorntonPubI’ve known Patti Thornton since she was in high school and I was a newlywed. Our friendship began in the youth group and continued through early adulthood and motherhood. It has survived separation and…well…life’s various adventures. But each time we meet or otherwise communicate, it feels just like old times, as though only hours or days have passed, instead of months–or years.

We’re a little older now. A lot has happened in those intervening years. With age comes wisdom, they say, and I hope it’s true. It is certainly true of Patti, who serves as General Baptist Women’s Ministries Director. She lost her husband this past November, so she speaks out of the deepest grief, on the road to healing. I hope you’ll be as uplifted as I am, by the message of this post.


A New Book

By Patti Thornton
(reprinted from Elevate  – General Baptist Women’s Ministry blog)

I would not call myself an avid reader, but I do love books.  Word filled pages bound between colorful front and back covers promise adventure, surprising tidbits of history, sage wisdom, mystery, and flowery romance.  They lure me away from the mundane (if not distressing) goings on of real life to a pillow lined seat in a warmly lit corner.  They are tickets to an escape route.

When a story takes you away to another world, sometimes you just want to stay there.  Have you ever found yourself not wanting to turn the page to see the final period – to read “the end” on an orphaned line half way down a page?

When I was a child, I owned a series of “Happy Hollisters” books.  I loved every story, but I always hated to end the book I was familiar with.  I never knew if the next one would be as good, or to my liking.  I thought about this as I was walking the other day.  Rain and clouds had hovered over us for what seemed like months.  At very least, I hadn’t noticed the sunshine since the day Wilbur’s heart stopped beating and mine didn’t.  But on this day, sunshine and a gloriously blue sky brought with it a hint of hope that all the pain I was feeling would one day be manageable.


A quote someone had recently posted on Facebook came to mind as I reached the one mile mark hill. You can’t start a new book if you keep re-reading the last one.  As is normal for me these days, I muffled a deep sob. I masked the air sucking gasps for breath by quickening my gait.

Thoughts, mixed with a rush of panic, filled the same mind I was trying to clear with fresh air. What if I’m not ready to start a new book? What if I’m happy going over and over my memories of neck kisses and slow dances and nature hikes?  What if I never want to close the book I’m familiar with?

That is when I felt the comforter whisper to my frantically pounding heart:

You will always have the book.  You can always look at its pages, even though you’ll read them differently because you already know the end and how the story progressed.  Just keep it on the bookshelf and go ahead and start, however slowly, a new book.  Reread the first page as many times as you need.  Refer to the old book as often as you like because it tells the story of how I’ve blessed you. Notice that, eventually, you’ll have to start dusting that old book because it sat there, unused, but remembered.  As you open your new book, pay attention to the story unfolding on the crisp pages before you.  Some characters will be new, places will be different, and purpose may shift.  But it’s the story meant for you right now.  Trust me.

I haven’t started reading that new story yet, but I’m getting closer.  The panic attacks grow slightly further apart, nights are a wee bit shorter, and my laugh-to-cry ratio is slightly rising.  I still feel like my fingers are frozen to the open back cover of the old book, though, and am ever so grateful for a patient Comforter.


Thanks, Patti, for allowing the re-blog of this wonderful post. You can find out more about Patti Thornton and the ministry of the General Baptist Women at


What Lies Ahead

  1. Write first post for 2016.
  2. Complete book 2 of Kinsman Redeemer Series: Sutters Landing.
  3. Get passport photo.
  4. Get passport.
  5. Fly to Cuenca, Ecuador for mission trip that includes a speaking engagement.
  6. Did you see #5?
  7. Omgosh! I am actually going to Ecuador!

Here’s how it happened:

My youngest son decided he wanted to go to Ecuador on a mission trip, and he wanted me to go with him. After a moment’s hesitation, I said, “Umm…okay…” In my head, I was already formulating all my excuses for why I could NOT go to Ecuador. But first…

Bill & Connie McDonald, Missionaries to Ecuador

Why Ecuador? A couple of my acquaintance (Bill and Connie McDonald) left for Cuenca in 1989. I admired them greatly, and was so proud of them, but I have to admit–the very thought of going so far away frightened me. So I pledged to help them, which got me off the hook for the time being. All these years later, that couple–lead by God, of course–accomplished quite a lot: “…they have pioneered the Pentecostal Evangelical church in the Andean region of Ecuador, headed the Latin American Childcare (LACC) program to plant schools with a Christ-centered focus throughout the nation, and founded the Unsión Foundation and Unsión Television.” –from Unsion Foundation‘s webpage.

Bill and Connie are no longer full time over there, but travel back and forth. However, both their children are now serving in the Amazon regions. See Joil & Leah Marbut’s Jungle Missionary page.

Youngest son & me

In early December, my son approached Bill McDonald and asked about making a trip. What could we do to help while we’re down there? Bill had an idea. He turned to me and said something that sounded a lot like: “I’d like to have you speak to a group of women in the area church…a three-day conference with around 150 women–possibly as many as 500.”

After I retrieved my chin from the floor, I realized that God had been preparing me for this. My first clue was the head nod. Instead of the back-and-forth of a negative response, I was nodding…as though accepting the invitation. Okay. That very morning, I had “happened” upon a blog post titled “Do It Afraid.” The writer speaks at conferences around the world. In the post, she confessed her constant battle with fear. Fear of flying, fear of strangers, fear of crowded places, but she refuses to let any of those stop her. So I knew instinctively, if God is calling me, He would give me all I need to accomplish it. Courage. Confidence. Material needs. Monetary provision. Strength for the journey.

Preparing the way. The last few months, I’ve been reading and studying scriptures and messages regarding forgiveness, pointing to certain topics, pinpointing painful circumstances in my life, as well as the lives of others close to me. These prodding messages caused me to turn inward and ferret out all the dredges of bitterness. I’m not claiming to be perfect, far from it. I think because it’s been an issue in my life, much of my writing includes the message of forgiveness and reconciliation. As Bill spoke about the problems faced by the Ecuadorian women, understanding flowed over me like rain.

TakeoffOver the next few months, as I prepare for this trip, I hope you’ll think of me and say a prayer for me, and for those going with us. We have a Facebook page started, called Ecuador Trip, and also a “Go Fund Me” page for those who’d like to help us make this journey. We’re also looking into translation of my books to Spanish.

The needs of these women are not so different from those of women around the world. I’m praying God will use the message of grace and forgiveness to heal their hearts and set the stage for what He has called them to do.

file0001745124941Along the way, I plan to keep you informed of our progress and give you insight into what God is speaking to my heart. He is not overwhelmed by the need, and neither should we be. Following his call should not be cause for fear, but for honor, and humility. Because I am well aware, He often chooses the least to accomplish his work.