We actually had to submit our information by August 15th. Ben and I completed separate applications, including some doctrinal questions, our testimony, our call to the mission field, and six references. Ben had to complete a more in-depth doctrinal statement. We both had to have medical exams and submit some other information. The in person interview was just the last step in the process of getting approved by the board.
The conference started Monday morning with a doctrinal review. There were four applying missionaries that had to be reviewed – two couples (one of them was us!) and two individual ladies. We appeared before 3 board members and answered doctrinal questions to be sure that we are in agreement with BWM. The questions were directed mostly to Ben, but I did get asked one. Mine was the easy one. Although I knew it was a “no pressure” situation with nice men over Bible passages that we knew thoroughly, I was still nervous! Ben kept telling me to relax, so I guess it must have showed!
After lunch we had a Candidate Committee review with two other board members. Here we each shared our testimonies, call to vocational service, and our particular mission field. Ben was asked questions about the Bronx, we discussed our finances, marriage, spiritual walks, etc. I don’t do very well speaking in front of people – I usually get teary eyed and choke up. This was no exception. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t share my testimony without getting emotional, but probably I was more frustrated that I had forgotten my tissue!
These committees both made recommendations to the Board of Trustees, but it was still not a “done deal.” On Tuesday afternoon we had to appear before the entire Board of Trustees (32 men). We were again asked to share our testimonies. I cried – again. It didn’t help that my pastor, Jeff Musgrave, was sitting right across from me. So many of these life-changing decisions happened while I was under his leadership at Highlands Baptist Church. He played a big part in my surrender to the mission field.
We were asked to step out while the Board voted on our acceptance. Then we were called back in, and informed that the Board had voted unanimously to accept us as church planting missionaries to the Bronx. Dr. Steadman asked Pastor Musgrave to pray for us. He got choked up too, so I was in good company!
On Tuesday night during the missions conference service, there was a “Parade of Nations”. All of the missionaries marched in a parade to the front of the church. We carried flags representing our countries, and we were asked to dress in fashion according to our country of service. I was nervous about this…the kids marched with us. Nolan isn’t exactly cooperative when it comes to holding hands or standing still. And he has been picking his nose a lot lately. But BWM was smart – most of the kids marched in at the end. Our family wore “I heart NY” shirts. We had to stay up front while missionary awards were presented. The kids weren’t perfect, but they did pretty good! I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when the parade was over!
We met so many wonderful people on this trip – other candidates, missionaries on deputation, missionaries on furlough. Some were old friends, many became new friends. Throughout the week the Lord confirmed to us that this was the mission board He wanted us to serve under.
We are very excited (and nervous) as this deputation process begins. We have a lot of work to do contacting church, scheduling meetings, and traveling to present our ministry. But we know the Lord is faithful – He has proved that to us over and over again – and we know that He will take us to the Bronx in His perfect timing.
The average deputation time for BWM missionaries is about 3.5 years. My missions professor at Ambassador Baptist College said that the average for ABC grads is closer to 17-24 months. We hope to raise our support in two years or less. Please pray for us as we move forward to the Bronx!
We have started a ministry blog/website. There are still several things that need to be finished, but if you want to see what we have so far, click here!