Continuing the Work Abroad from Home

An Interview with Joe and Helen

Sending forth workers to the last frontiers of the Gospel requires the support of faithful senders—people like Joe and Helen of Mississippi.

Joe and Helen have been giving faithfully to Frontiers since 1997. They served as missionaries in Brazil for more than two decades, but their service didn't stop there. Today, they continue to serve as educators and supporters in the cause of the Gospel.

Joe and Helen recently explained what motivates their giving to the Great Commission.

Helen: I was a missionary kid born in Brazil to American parents. I always thought that I'd be a missionary. Joe and I went to Brazil for 24 years, and for most of our time there, we worked in a Bible institute, training Brazilians in Bible and church planting. We came back and have taught at a Christian college since 1989.

Brazil was a big part of your life. But what was it about the Muslim world in particular that compelled you to get involved through your giving?

Joe: We began to be aware of the unreached while in Brazil through the work of Ralph Winter. The largest unreached peoples were among Muslims and Hindus, so we began training and sending people to work with those groups. Then, one of our students—a really outstanding woman who was like a part of our family—received a strong calling to focus on the Muslim world. She began to influence the evangelical churches of Brazil to reach out to Muslims. She did a speaking tour across Brazil at Bible institutes, churches, and church conferences, and the Lord used her to raise interest in reaching Muslims with the Gospel. We got to be part of that.

Street

Helen: Brazil is a very large country. It's a large country with a large evangelical community. Our student motivated the Brazilian church to look towards overseas missions, specifically the Muslim world.

After serving in Brazil, you returned to Mississippi and now teach at a Christian college. What are you most passionate about in teaching your students?

Joe: In our missions classes, we try to prepare students to go to regions where there are unreached people. Here in Mississippi, the “Buckle of the Bible Belt,” there still are many individual people who are unsaved. But there are whole people groups in the world that are unreached. We believe in sending workers especially to them. It’s something our students have usually never heard of. They’re being introduced to this concept in our classes.

What do you see as the most pressing need in missions today?

Joe: The greatest need I see in missions is unreached people groups. And many of them are Muslims. Praise the Lord, we're aware there are movements to Christ right now among Muslims all over the world. It's important to take advantage of this move of God's Spirit in the house of Islam. It's very encouraging to see after so many years, when there was so little done among Muslims—and so little response perhaps because there was so little being done—that God is blessing those ministries among Muslims.

You’ve been giving to Frontiers for almost 20 years. What motivates you to give to a particular ministry?

Joe: Through the years we've prayed for guidance from God on how to use the money that He gives us. There are three concerns that He has led us to give to: meeting people’s physical needs, sharing with those who have never heard the Gospel, and helping prepare leaders who can lead movements to Christ that also meet people’s physical needs and their spiritual need for the Gospel.

Teaching

What is something you’ve learned as God has led you to give towards missions?

Helen: You don't have to give big gifts. You give what you can. And if it's small—that’s okay, it's small. But it's in the act of beginning to give that God will bless.

Joe: And if you only wait until you think you can afford to give, you’ll never do it!

Some people may think, “I’m not called to go, so I’m not called to missions.” What would you say in response to that?

Joe: You know, we don't have the opportunity to go and work directly with Muslims, but we have the great privilege of contributing to those who do. We believe our role is very important. Since we're not able at this point in our lives to go and do the work on the ground, it's a great privilege for us to support others doing it—those who are doing it the way God wants it done, in a biblical way.

In other words, we consider it a privilege that there's an organization like Frontiers that in some way we can be a small part of.

Joe and Helen have been sending partners with Frontiers for almost 20 years. They served in Brazil as church planters for 24 years, returning in 1989. They are in their 27th year of service as university-level educators at a Christian school in Mississippi.