A Kentucky native is on her way to serving as a journeyman in eastern Europe with the International Mission Board — and the influence of Kentucky Baptist churches and organizations have been instrumental in her responding to the Lord’s call to missions.
Susan* got her first taste of missions at Northside Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, where she was saved and discipled. Her post-secondary education has been at Northern Kentucky University, where she has been active with Baptist Campus Ministry and a Kentucky Baptist Convention church plant.
“I have always been somewhat interested in missions,” Susan said. “I heard a lot of missionary stories in Sunday school at Northside, and I attended a Christian school where the history classes included missionary stories.” By the time she was in the ninth grade, she had been on a short-term mission trip.
Then she went to NKU, where she pursued a double major in theatre and history. But she also became active in BCM there, where she “was discipled and grew a lot and saw God’s heart [for] the nations.”
Susan said it was a class called Perspectives on the World’s Christian Movement that made a dramatic impact on her desire for missions. “It took place at the BCM on campus, but it wasn’t through NKU — it was a 15-week college level course on perspectives of missiology.”
Missions calling ‘solidified’
She said it was her sophomore year in college when “my longing to pursue missions was solidified and I started thinking about applying as a journeyman with IMB.”
At the same time, she was looking for a church in that area, and visited a church where Rob Patterson — now Kentucky Baptist Convention team leader for evangelism — was speaking about his experiences when serving with IMB. She talked with him after the service, explaining her interest in missions work. She still had two years left to finish her degree but didn’t want to wait that long to be involved in evangelism and church planting. Susan had just finished a summer internship and was praying for opportunities to serve until she graduated.
Susan told Patterson that she wanted to serve in mission work overseas and asked him for advice on how to prepare for that in her last two years of school.
That led to Patterson connecting Susan with Living Church, a church plant pastored by Mark Jones, resulting in Susan serving as a church planting apprentice. She has been mentored by the pastor and his wife and a church planting representative from KBC.
“I was encouraged and equipped to do ministry on campus through the local church — it is definitely a way the Lord has prepared me for missions.” Also, Susan spent two months in central Asia this past summer, and has her sights set on IMB training that begins in April.
Susan added, “KBC has been such a blessing — this apprenticeship has no doubt been used by the Lord to equip me for the field. I am so grateful for the opportunity and the ways I have grown in time in my time as an apprentice.”
Patterson said Susan’s story is “a great example of living on mission where He has you — even while exploring a call for what’s next. It’s also a good example of how BCM provides students opportunities to grow as leaders. Her story also is an example of what we hope to see as a result of the KBC Calling Out the Called initiative.” Patterson noted that giving through the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention’s giving channel for missions and ministry, is instrumental in seeing ministries such as church plants and BCMs continue to operate and thrive in the goal of reaching people for Christ.
Josh Skipper, regional campus minister for the northern Kentucky region, said that when Susan arrived on campus, she found the BCM to be evangelistically focused.
“We’re thankful for the leadership we have in Kentucky that each BCM has a vision to reach their campus,” Skipper said.
“Susan has been an incredible blessing to our ministry — she is a disciple who makes disciples. I’ve seen her lead girls to the Lord, and then those girls seeking to lead others,” she noted. “Susan has been an example of what we want to do. She came here as a young but mature person and has grown in grace and knowledge and confidence in sharing the gospel.
“She’s been involved in leadership every year she could have been,” Skipper added. “She is someone who wants to use her time well for the kingdom.”
Skipper recalled Susan’s diligence in discipling another student who had grown up in a KBC church, “but was not following the Lord at all. Susan took on that challenge and felt a burden for this girl she met in class. Susan started meeting with her, and asked if her fellow student would read through the book of Mark with her. Those meetings started, and there were times the student didn’t show up, and when she did show up she was often high.”
Skipper said Susan did not give up, and about a year ago the student started attending church with Susan, resulting in the classmate being saved.
“The Lord changed her — it was a total transformation and shows the power of the gospel. The Lord can work through the heart of someone and cut through any barrier. Now the student that Susan was discipling is now discipling other ladies and sharing the gospel.”
That track record of sowing the seeds of the gospel prompted Skipper to observe, “We’re excited to see what she will do overseas in serving the Lord.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Names changed for security. This story was written by Chip Hutcheson and first published by Kentucky Today, news service of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.