I am Joel, and my wife, Kellie, and I have been serving with the International Mission Board for the past 19 years in Southeast Asia. I grew up in Louisiana and Arkansas, and Kellie is from Benton, Arkansas. We both experienced a call to missions while in high school. When Kellie and I met as students at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), the first question I asked her was what she wanted to do after graduation. When she told me she was going to be a missionary, I began making plans for our life together. After graduation, we got married and moved to New Orleans, where I attended seminary and Kellie taught in an inner-city school. While at OBU, I had pastored Anchor Baptist Church in beautiful Brown Springs, and our membership has remained with that church. They have been faithful prayer partners with us since the beginning.
Our first ten years on the field, we served an unreached people group in Southeast Asia. We then transferred to our new ministry in SEA, where we currently serve. Kellie teaches missionary kids (including our own) at an MK international school, and I am doing church planting work. I also teach and train SEA pastors and missionaries to do missions with their unreached neighbors. Our greatest joy is seeing SEA churches send out their own missionaries to plant churches among their people group.
In February 2020, a family traveled from a very remote island to our city because two of their young children needed surgery. They were hoping to have the surgeries at the government hospital. However, soon after they arrived, the hospital would only take COVID patients and travel was greatly restricted so they could not return home. They had no money and no options. A gracious Christian family allowed them to stay in an empty house near another IMB family in our city. This IMB family began visiting and sharing food with them and eventually introduced them to me.
Together, we began praying with this family for God’s provision for their daily needs and for the surgeries for their children. God used us, other SEA churches and believers, as well as churches in Arkansas to bless this family. Their children received the surgeries they needed, and the parents have received the Gospel! After almost a year, they were finally able to return home and are the only believers on their remote island. We are planning follow-up and discipleship with our SEA partners who live in their area. Our prayer is that a house church will be planted on that island.
Kellie and I, and our three kids, are so thankful for the numerous Arkansas Baptist churches and believers who pray for us. We know we would not still be on the mission field without those prayers. The God who hears your prayers in Arkansas, answers also in SEA. We are also thankful for your support of the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Please pray for this family on the remote island. This island has no phone signal, running water, or electricity. There are also sometimes terrorist movements. Pray that the SEA missionaries we partner with can connect with them, disciple them, and plant a church on that island.
Pray that more SEA churches will send and support missionaries. God is calling more and more workers into his harvest field.
Pray for our family, especially our children. Because of the COVID restrictions, our children have not been able to attend church or face-to-face school since March 2020. It is unlikely that the restrictions will be relaxed before 2022.
Thank you for your prayers and for your support. We love being missionaries and we are so thankful to partner with Arkansas Baptists.