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In ministry to refugees, NAMB Journeyman learns importance of the gospel above all

Carrie A. recently served as a Journeyman missionary at Send Relief’s Atlanta Ministry Center. Her passion for reaching unreached and unengaged people groups began while a part of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University of Tennessee. Photo provided by NAMB.

CLARKSTON, Ga. (BP) – Carrie A. can point to the moment during her experience as a North American Mission Board (NAMB) Journeyman when she realized she was simultaneously in the middle of the Bible Belt and the 10/40 window.

The 10/40 window is an area of the world between 10 degrees north latitude and 40 degrees south latitude between North Africa and East Asia where most of the world’s unreached and unengaged people groups (UUPGs) live.

Carrie, who is concluding her term as a Journeyman in Clarkston, Ga., discovered that a family she had been ministering to came from a UUPG in East Africa and had resettled in the Atlanta suburb a year earlier.  

“They were totally unreached,” Carrie said. “I thought, ‘Wow, God is so gracious.’ He was at work. I don’t know how many people in that people group have heard the gospel. We’ve had many gospel conversations, and we’re still having them.

“It’s one of those major privileges to be a part of their lives and to speak the truth and the gospel to them.”

First group of NAMB Journeymen

Carrie is a part of the first class of NAMB Journeyman missionaries who are finishing up their current two-year terms. Based on the longtime International Mission Board program of the same name, NAMB’s Journeyman program gives recent college graduates opportunities to explore a life on mission. They serve as vital missionary team members at Send Relief ministry centers and in major cities throughout North America.

Carrie A., second from left, is part of the first class of NAMB Journeyman missionaries who are finishing up their current two-year terms. Photo provided by NAMB.

Carrie’s ministry assignment took her to Clarkston, where she helped coordinate mission trips to the city. Clarkston is home to Send Reliefs’s Atlanta ministry center, which hosts groups from across the United States interested in serving the community’s diverse population. Affectionally known as “the Ellis Island of the South,” Clarkston residents come from more than 50 nations and 100 ethnic groups. It’s estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the population are “foreign-born.”

Carrie had been familiar with Clarkston before beginning her two-year stint as a Journeyman in 2020. She spent the previous summer in the town serving with NAMB as a GenSend missionary, an eight-week or less missions experience for college students.

“I wanted to serve overseas, but I knew I would be in the U.S. for at least another year,” Carrie said. “When I was told about the Journeyman opportunity, it was a great fit. I really loved my time with GenSend in Clarkston.”

Carrie said most weeks there was at least one group serving in Clarkston. She helped with training the teams and then served as a host while they were in town. When she wasn’t working with mission teams, Carrie spent time in the city’s vast refugee community, getting to know families, looking for ways to meet their needs and sharing the gospel.

A strategic place serving the greatest need

Carrie says she recognized that Clarkston—with so many refugees—was a strategic place to engage the nations with the gospel, and she could do so only a few hours away from where she went to college.

Carrie appreciated the opportunity to get hands-on experience in cross-cultural ministry as a Journeyman. She is grateful for the opportunity to learn from Christian leaders, both inside the refugee community and outside of it, who have vast ministry experience. Despite all the needs in the refugee community, Carrie said, her time in Clarkston reinforced that the greatest need is new birth in Christ.

“Carrie came to Clarkston with a clear desire to serve in whatever capacity was needed,” said David Creswell, the director of the Atlanta ministry center and Carrie’s supervisor as a Journeyman. “This is an incredible attribute in a missionary and opens the doors to being able to engage in a variety of different kinds of ministry.

“Her understanding of the challenges that refugees face upon arrival in the U.S. grew from her significant time spent participating in hands-on ministry with the ladies and youth of Clarkston. As her time with Journeyman came to a close, she was actively engaged in all levels of teaching and training with our teams, helping with the administrative coordination of all the trips. She was given the responsibility by her church to develop an ESL program for the church to own and operate.”

Collegiate ministry impact

Carrie’s passion for engaging unreached and unengaged people groups with the good news about Jesus began during her time in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at the University of Tennessee.

“A BCM intern was one of the first people to really disciple me,” Carrie said. “She taught me how to read the Bible and things like that. She began to share with me about the need for the gospel among the nations, something I had never thought about. I had never considered that there were unreached people groups in our world. And God used that in my heart to spark a desire to use my gifts to reach the nations.”

During her time as a Journeyman, Carrie met and married a staff member from the nearby Clarkson International Bible Church. The couple plans to stay in Clarkston, where she is serving in an administrative role at the church. She is also involved in helping to restart the ESL program at the church, along with serving the youth alongside her husband.

“Pray that we’ll stay grounded as a couple to our identities in Christ,” Carrie said. “There’s a tendency in ministry to be all about the work – which is good, but pray we would stay grounded in an identity in Christ and in the gospel first.”

Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Carrie’s last name is not used for security considerations.

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