NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Chantéa Kirkwood daily represents LifeWay Christian Resources as a customer service employee, but for two weeks she traveled to Rwanda to represent LifeWay as a missionary.
“I am defined by my love for Christ and how I represent Him before men,” said Kirkwood, a first-time mission volunteer.
“LifeWay provides both the financial means to allow me to share my faith in places that I could never afford to go on my own as well as the time off from work,” she said, mentioning that LifeWay pays half the cost for employees to participate in mission trips.
“To be able to go to another part of the world that you have only dreamed about is amazing in itself, but to go and have no worries about financial responsibilities while you’re gone is an even greater testament to what LifeWay is all about,” she said.
Kirkwood was one of 106 LifeWay volunteers who ministered internationally in 2007, bringing the total number of volunteers to 1,029 since the Southern Baptist entity’s first mission trip a decade ago.
In 2007, LifeWay volunteers ministered in Chile, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, Portugal, Newfoundland, Brazil, Canada, Rwanda and New Orleans. The trips resulted in 5,392 professions of faith. The total number of professions of faith stands at 97,328 since 1997.
“One of the most exciting things I learned about LifeWay when I arrived two years ago was the passion our employees have for missions,” said Thom S. Rainer, LifeWay’s president. “I am thankful that this ministry was established, and I am looking forward to participating myself in the near future.
“The fact that LifeWay invests so much in mission trips is a sign of our Great Commission health,” Rainer said. “I am grateful to our employees who participate and to LifeWay for making it possible.”
Ernie McAninch, LifeWay’s manager of ministry ventures who heads the missions program, said active participation in the Great Commission glorifies God. It also is a testimony to the churches, state conventions and associations that LifeWay serves.
“LifeWay writes about evangelism. We teach it. But more importantly, we practice it,” McAninch said. “Missions changes our perspective regarding our ministry within LifeWay. When the Holy Spirit uses us to spiritually transform a life, it has a definite impact on us. We cannot return to LifeWay without being changed. Our ministry at LifeWay takes on a different, maybe even more urgent, light.”
Richard Barnes, LifeWay’s director of publishing services, led a team to St. John’s, Newfoundland, during the summer and said one of the biggest benefits of participating in international missions is witnessing the lives transformed by the simple truth of John 3:16.
Barnes and his team worked with local missionaries and hosted block parties that resulted in 60 decisions for Christ.
“I especially am blessed when we hear reports after we return home that people are continuing in their newfound faith, which we have heard from St. John’s,” Barnes said. “LifeWay mission trips remind me that our LifeWay vision to help people know Jesus and seek His Kingdom is a vision for everyday living wherever we are.”
Kelly Davis Shrout is the employee communications editor at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.