Preparing to GO: Women Train in London for Overseas Missions
MARIA ESTES | January 19, 2017
Eight Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) student wives spent a week in London praying, sharing the gospel and encouraging the missionaries who live there.
Denise O’Donoghue, director of women’s life at SEBTS, and Women’s Ministry Coordinator Lesley Hildreth led the missions trip from May 16 to May 23 to give participants a taste of the particular challenges that come with raising a family while serving overseas.
The team partnered with a Southeastern missionary family in the 2+ program. This program gives students the opportunity to study for 2 years on campus and complete their degree on the field during a two- or three-year assignment with the International Mission Board (IMB).
Several of the team members’ husbands are in the 2+ program and most hope to serve as missionaries in some capacity. O’Donoghue and Hildreth want to do everything they can to set these students up for success.
“The idea for this trip sprang from a discussion revolving around improving the success rate of our student families on the field,” O’Donoghue said. “We discovered that families often come back because the wife is unhappy; life on the mission field is not at all what she expected.”
“The trip was designed to allow the student wife, in a foreign mission context, to observe, work alongside and ask questions of a missionary wife flourishing in her responsibilities of wife, mother and missionary,” she said.
The team’s host missionaries work specifically with North African and Middle Eastern (NAME) peoples living in London, recognizing that this is a strategic location to reach these people who can then take the good news back to their home countries.
“The beauty of spreading the gospel in London is that you get to talk to people from all over the world,” said Mihoko Boyd whose husband is a Master of Divinity student at SEBTS. “I got to talk with a lady from Egypt and another from Ethiopia. I don’t know how many different languages I heard in one day.”
The week was broken up into two training sessions, two scheduled craft events and time for prayer walking and café evangelism. The training sessions were led by the host missionaries and included discussions about evangelism fears and strategies, spiritual warfare and prayer walking.
Participants spent the remainder of their time in small groups prayer walking and evangelizing in neighborhoods where many NAME peoples live.
On Thursday and Friday the SEBTS team sponsored craft times with women the host missionaries have connected with.
“Each student had an opportunity to share her faith while in London,” said O’Donoghue. “One shared on a bus, one in a café, one in a grocery store and several after being invited to a woman’s home following a crochet class our group sponsored. I had the opportunity to share the Bible story of Jesus healing the bleeding woman with a woman from India as she drew the story with henna on my hand.”
O’Donoghue and Hildreth, as well as the host missionaries, emphasized the importance of being intentional in sharing the gospel.
“The students had the opportunity to see that, realistically, you may not have an easy opportunity to speak to someone about Christ,” Hildreth said. “You have to be intentional. We ran into several people just walking down the streets of London who knew our host missionary by name. This really speaks to her intentionality and was a great example of her ministry to the NAME peoples.”
During a time of debriefing each night, team members were able to share the successes, struggles and lessons from the day. Several women shared that they were encouraged knowing that they were not alone in their struggles and by the ways the Lord was working in their lives.
Many shared that they learned a lot about prayer, being sensitive and obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and spiritual warfare. “We have a very real enemy who does not want us to do what we are doing,” one of the host missionaries said.
“The Lord used London to confirm the calling in my life to serve internationally,” said Shelby Meyer whose husband is in the 2+ program. “It was a great time of learning what fears stand in the way of me truly saying ‘yes Lord I will go where you call.’”
To view photos from the women’s London mission trip, click here.
Learn more about the Center for Great Commission Studies by clicking here.