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5-year-old daughter’s question hits missionary dad ‘in the gut’

CULLMAN, Ala. (BP)–With a master’s degree nearly in hand and job possibilities on the horizon, Jimmy Mauldin thought everything was falling together for his family.

But the Sept. 11 attacks and a conversation with his 5-year-old daughter changed his perspective.

This June, Mauldin, his wife Jennifer and their four children will return to Ghana, West Africa, where they served as missionaries from 1996 to 2000. While on assignment, Mauldin was a hospital administrator at a Baptist medical center that treated 60,000 outpatients and 10,000 inpatients every year.

Mauldin described his missionary experience as rewarding but difficult.

When the Mauldins returned from the field to their hometown in Cullman, Ala., they were ready for a break. “I was back home and enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “It was fun to return back to ‘normal’ life.

“I began to question whether or not I really wanted to return to the field. I began to rationalize that God needed workers right here also. I didn’t need to go to some place far away.”

Mauldin felt his desire to stay in the United States was confirmed while watching live coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on TV.

“If there was any question left, I definitely was not taking my family overseas again,” he said. “I surely did not want to get on a plane. Jennifer and I have four small children. How could I put them in danger? My mind was settled. ‘God does need strong business laymen to work for him in Alabama.'”

Mauldin’s 5-year-old daughter, Katie, challenged his reservations about traveling overseas the next day as he drove her to kindergarten.

During the drive, she asked her father why all the flags were at half-staff. When he said it was because of the actions of some “bad men,” Katie asked: “Daddy, why didn’t someone tell them about Jesus?”

That question, Mauldin said, hit him “right in the gut.”

Though he tried to put the conversation out of his mind, Mauldin, who was just about to complete a master’s degree in business administration, struggled with whether to explore new career possibilities.

“I had several job opportunities presented to me,” he said. “However, I couldn’t accept any of them. It just wasn’t right. I did not have the peace to accept any of those positions.

“God reminded me that there are 1.7 billion people in the world who have never heard about the love of Jesus Christ. It is not like Alabama, where there is a church on every corner and most people have at least heard about God and have ample opportunities to respond to the gospel.”

After prayer, Mauldin and his wife decided it was time to return with their family to Africa and continue the work they had started.

“I can say with all conviction that God has called me to use my business and leadership skills to help further the cause of Christ around the world,” he said. “Yes, God can bless me here in Alabama. But just think about the blessings I will miss out on if I do not follow God’s direction to Ghana.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: YET TO HEAR.

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  • Shawn Hendricks