LEXINGTON, Ky. (BP)–They sold their house, gave their car to one of their daughters, held two yard sales and even sold a few items over the Internet on eBay.
John and Jan Strimple are serious about their missions assignment in Poland. Besides getting rid of most of their material possessions, they are moving halfway around the world from their two young adult daughters. Strimple even resigned his pastorate at Mallard Point Baptist Church in Georgetown, Ky., and his wife quit her job at the Toyota plant.
The Strimples have been appointed International Service Corps workers through the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. They will serve as field coordinators for Kentucky Baptists’ missions partnership with Polish Baptists.
“Wherever the Lord wants, you just go,” John Strimple explained. “We’ve felt this particular call to missions for a long time and have been waiting for this opportunity.”
“It’s kind of liberating — no house payment, no car payment,” Jan Strimple added. “We’re free to go and free to follow wherever God leads and not feel those ties. When God calls, you have to go; that’s the bottom line.”
Strimple noted that “the hardest thing for me was giving up the church. I loved the church and people. That’s been hard, traumatic for me.”
He added, however, that “the people who are close to us are not surprised. We’ve got a little bit of a history of just doing what God says.”
“God will take care of us,” his wife agreed.
The Strimples’ spiritual pilgrimage began in earnest about 20 years ago when they both became Christians.
“Within three months after I got saved, I was teaching a Sunday school class,” Strimple said. “It’s been a rocket ride in my Christian life since then.”
A few years after making their Christian commitment, the couple attended a foreign missions commissioning service at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
“Both of us felt led at that point in time to commit to missions,” he recalled. They eventually quit their jobs and both went back to school. While he earned his seminary degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, she completed a teaching degree at the University of Kentucky.
“We both went back to school on faith,” he said. “We dropped everything and said, ‘God expects more from us.'”
After Strimple became a pastor, their next major stepping stone was a partnership mission trip to Russia in 1998. That was followed by a mission trip to Poland last summer.
“The Russia trip was incredible,” Strimple said. “It was so intense. You’d get up in the morning and be ready to witness.”
Noting that dozens of children and their parents responded one day to a simple gospel presentation, he added, “I was floored. I’d never had anything happen like that in the States.”
Strimple said the evangelism strategy in Poland is significantly different from their experience in Russia. “It takes a lot more patience because of the culture and religion,” he explained. “The young people and the children are where the growth is and where the revival is going to take place.”
As they return to Poland midway through the current three-year partnership, Strimple said he and his wife “really have a heart for the young people, especially the orphans.”
Strimple spent his early childhood in an orphanage before being adopted at age 4. As a result, he said their previous trip to Poland, which involved work with orphans, “really touched me.”
The Strimples look forward to helping Kentucky Baptists get personally involved in volunteer mission trips to Poland.
“I would hope Kentucky Baptists, especially the pastors, will help nurture the young pastors in Poland,” Strimple said. “They don’t have anyone older to ask or call. The Kentucky pastors can really help these young guys even for two weeks by adopting a pastor to teach and mentor.”
Calvin Wilkins, director of the Kentucky Baptist partnership missions department, said he is excited about the Strimples’ availability to serve in Poland.
“The Lord worked this thing out in his own way to speak to their hearts about going,” Wilkins said. He affirmed their “vision and commitment to missions and the energy they display.”
Describing partnership missions as “a life-changing experience,” Strimple said, “It’s enriching. Volunteers come back with a new worldview.
“It’s so wonderful when Kentucky Baptists reach out,” he added. “This is an opportunity to ‘go therefore.’ It brings the Great Commission alive.”