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LifeWay volunteers helped 7,371 people receive Christ in ’04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Kristin Parks, a retail accounting specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, usually crunches numbers eight hours a day, five days a week. But for two weeks in November, Parks laid aside her calculator and picked up her Bible to share the Gospel in remote villages in Niger, Africa.

“It was incredible to see how God used our team to plant, sow, water and sometimes reap the harvest,” said Parks, a first-time LifeWay mission volunteer. “The best part about going on a trip is being on mission with God.”

Parks was one of 145 LifeWay Christian Resource volunteers who ministered internationally in 2004, bringing the total number of volunteers to 651 since 1997. LifeWay, based in Nashville, Tenn., offers opportunities for employees to participate in international missions and also provides paid leave for two weeks, plus half the cost for corporate-sponsored mission trips.

LifeWay volunteer mission trips included journeys as far away as India and as close as New York City. LifeWay’s mission efforts helped lead 7,371 individuals to Christ. The total number of professions of faith stands at 56,014 since LifeWay’s first mission trip seven years ago.

Since the inception of the mission program, LifeWay employees and others have contributed $156,162.25 to corporate-sponsored mission trips to help cover expenses like Bibles, roofs for new international churches and bicycles for pastors. The money also helped cover the cost of building two Bible schools in Africa, which provide on-site training to local pastors from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Sudan.

Through employee trip participation and donated funds, more than 23 international churches were planted this year, bringing the total to 166.

“I never imagined myself being involved in mission trips prior to my involvement in my first trip to Kenya in 1999,” said Jim Shamblin, LifeWay’s manager of applications system engineering. Since his first trip, Shamblin has participated in at least one international mission trip each year and recently led a team of nine LifeWay volunteers to Niger.

The opportunity for international ministry is a key benefit to working at LifeWay, Shamblin said. “This program helps employees grow spiritually, and LifeWay has better employees as a result of their mission experiences. It’s a benefit you can’t get anywhere else.”

Jim Carter, LifeWay’s vice president of finance and business services, said the mission trips have had tremendous impact on the lives of employees and employees’ local churches. “If you see that you are doing exactly what God has asked you to do, ‘go and telling,’ He will bless that in an incredible way,” Carter said.

And Jesus’ commandment to “go and tell” is a priority for LifeWay and its employees, Carter added.

“I maintain that we have tremendous resources here, both in America and at LifeWay. And when God gives you resources, there is a reason. We’ll be accountable for how we use them.”

LifeWay’s 2005 mission trip schedule includes journeys to Russia, Japan, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Dominican Republic and Brazil.

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  • Kelly Davis