Arkansas Baptist ministry assistants consider their work a calling, not just a job

April 21, 2021 is National Administrative Assistant Day. This article was written by Gwen McCallister, Ministry Assistant at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Ministry assistants in Arkansas may be found serving behind the scenes in church offices, association offices, and the offices of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC). These staff members perform a variety of duties to support the work of pastors and other ministry staff across the state.

The ministry assistant may be the first point of contact when someone is seeking an appointment with a pastor, associational missionary, or ABSC travel staff person. Whether the visitor or caller is in need of information, materials or sometimes just a listening ear, the ministry assistant must be welcoming and discerning. This position is more than a job to go to each day – it is a way of ministering to church staff, church members and maybe even an unbeliever who crosses her path.

When asked recently for thoughts about their calling to this ministry, assistants in the varied offices mentioned above affirmed their desire to serve God in their vocation.

Becky Cossey, Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Cabot, related how her current place of ministry fulfills a lifelong desire to serve and the ways God prepared her for this time in her life. Cossey shared, “My family was active in church throughout my childhood. Even as a high school teen, I could see myself working at a church, designing the bulletins, and helping out wherever needed.  My little church had no need for an employee, so I went to work doing other things like customer service for a local newspaper, insurance adjuster for workers compensation, and the job of all jobs a stay-at-home mom!”

Cossey went on to say, “In 2000, I joined the working force again in administration at a local hospital and then to be an assistant for an attorney. In 2003, Rodney and I joined Mount Carmel and the pastor’s assistant job became available. I applied and here we are 17 years later. This was God’s perfect timing. He placed me in jobs in customer service, insurance, administration and an attorney’s office to give me the needed skills to do what I do today.  I do feel this is a calling, not like a pastor would get, but a deep desire to do the work behind the scenes, no matter what that work.” 

Avis Halbert also affirmed God’s timing as He opened the door for her to serve at First Baptist Church in Rogers. She had this to say, “God’s timing was perfect for when the “job” came open 13 years ago. He had arranged my life situations, work experiences, and church family relationships for this job. Since my youngest son had graduated from high school, I had prayed for God to use me. He answered the prayer in a mighty way. I am blessed by the church family I serve. We have a great staff. There are volunteers and lay leaders who are so eager to get involved. This job is a precious gift of opportunities for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them!” 

Billie Moore, Mount Zion Baptist Association, said this, “I love that I work where we can stop and pray for any reason we need to at any time.  I also like working behind the scenes to make it work.  I receive great satisfaction in serving God in that way.  I love hearing how God is working in the lives of churches on mission with God.  These are things, I may never have seen about how God works, if I didn’t work for the association.”

Kathy Wilkerson has served in a variety of areas during her time working at Independence Baptist Association. Wilkerson shared, “In May 2002 as I walked through the doors of our local association office for an interview God said, “This is where I want you.” And this is where I have been for over 18 years. God has used me to minister to our 30 churches and the pastors that have served in them, as well as their members, in ways that are too numerous to list here. I was the children’s camp director and had the privilege of leading several children to Christ. I also ministered to the women of our churches through the women’s ministry by leading Bible studies, attending conferences and planning retreats. I served as the association’s VBS director for many years and was able to help the churches with training each year. Through my relationship with the association and the state convention I have been on 12 mission trips to South Africa, France, and Haiti. God allowed me to make friends and spread the Gospel around the world by planting seeds and leading some of those new friends into a relationship with Jesus. God has blessed me in so many ways through the ministries He has enabled me to be a part of and I consider it a privilege to be able to serve Him and the churches and people of our association.”

Rachel Wolfe, who recently joined the ABSC, shared her feelings when she said, “I love ministry!!! This job has provided an opportunity to use my organizational and administrative skills for HIS kingdom and for the work of Arkansas churches. Our churches function well when the behind-the-scenes things are done orderly and in a timely manner.”

Cherie Estes serves on the Church Planting Team at the ABSC and shared her unique perspective, “My husband and I had the opportunity to plant a church in Colorado from 2001-2008, and then we helped finish a plant in New Mexico. We had been there from 2008-2013 before we came to Arkansas. Now we are doing a replant in Sheridan. Having served with my husband in these plants and being a minister’s wife has given me a great passion to do my job here as we support, encourage, provide resources, and pray for church planters and their wives. I know how important it is to serve those who serve in our churches because we have been the recipients of that ourselves.”

It has been said that “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” The ministry assistant’s position is one in which He uses varied experiences to equip a person to support and serve so that His Kingdom might increase.

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