How Stephen Hamilton Got Started as an Outreach Pastor

Stephen Hamilton is the outreach pastor at Bow Down Church in Florida. He leads various ministries within the community and also hosts groups who are partnering in the local community. Yet, even with all he has going on, he is also pursuing a graduate degree to continue growing.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
I serve in the inner city of West Palm Beach Fl. as an outreach pastor.

How do you serve those people?
I serve through a wide range of different ministries in the community I live in. We hold recreational outreaches, homeless feedings, bible studies, prayer walks, and other quarterly outreaches.

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
I began desiring to want to enter youth ministry in high school.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
After graduation from Liberty University God brought me here through a friend that had already graduated and started ministering in West Palm. He has given me extra favor here and has really opened the way for the ministry here to take root relationally.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Yes but they have changed throughout the years.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
I would have definitely become more educated. I also would have emphasized prayer more.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
I'm not really great at this one. lol I still need work on this one. However, a monthly newsletter goes out or it is suppose to. 🙂

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
I use anything I can get my hands on that comes from an experienced, educated and fruitful life.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
The staff I'm apart of prioritizes it and I'm pursuing a graduate degree at the moment as well.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Make sure you are being discipled by a mature believer that is miles ahead of you in your spiritual walk.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
Stay humble so that you can continue to learn and listen to rebukes and instructions, they are valuable.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Yes, without hesitation!

Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

Outreach Pastor, Bow Down Church

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How Rebecca Jefferson got Started as a Missionary

Rebecca Jefferson grew up in Church and was saved in her “tween” years. Then God called her to be a domestic missionary in the Northeastern United States. Here's how she got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
The people of the Baltimore-Washington area.

How do you serve those people?
Sharing the Gospel through visual sketch-board Gospel presentations in public forums and after school clubs and partnering with churches and like-minded believers to reach their communities for Christ.

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
Probably when I was around 13 or 14 years old.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
By twelve years old, I was saved, but struggled with condemnation a lot over my salvation. Because of uncertainty over my salvation and fear, I didn't witness to people. But God convicted me of this and changed my heart. He made me want to do this all the time. I couldn't go anywhere without telling people about Jesus or giving them a Gospel tract. Soon, I realized I could do this for the rest of my life. I was fourteen years old when I told my parents I wanted to be a missionary for the rest of my life.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Some of my goals I've laid out at https://midcitymissions.edifyhub.com/five-part-approach/. I am open to wherever God may lead me in the future. I can say that in order to share the Gospel in a larger capacity, I need to raise nearly $4800 a month. I work part-time, but would love to use most or all of the time that I work to share the Gospel. I would love to partner with fellow believers to make that happen.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
There are several things I would do differently.

  1. Rely solely on the grace of God. Sometimes, when a dream is realized, it's easy to define yourself by the achievement of that goal more than what God has said about you in his Word. So when things went wrong, I defined myself by what the outcome of situations might be rather than Christ's own sacrifice for me on the Cross.
  2. Realize God has chosen you to do this. I didn't think I could do anything, so when the opportunity finally opened up to be a missionary-evangelist, let's just say I was in disbelief. But one mistake I made was that I got stuck there. I stayed in disbelief and doubt, and it really hindered me in the first year or so of being a part-time evangelist. I was constantly afraid of making a mistake instead of seeing what a gift God had given me in this opportunity and embracing it. I was also unsure of God's direction despite what he had clearly shown to me.
  3. Own it. This is similar to #2. Before doors began to open for me, I aspired to be an evangelist. After doors opened for me, I felt like an evange-failure. My fears held me back from truly taking advantage of this opportunity. I was frozen because I was too afraid of what others thought about me and what Satan said about me. If I had another chance to do things differently, I would have contacted churches asking them point-blank if I could speak for their groups or in front of their congregation. But I thought I might sound too forceful about it, and I was hesitant to speak in front of a church.
  4. Check yourself out, spiritually and mentally. The Bible says to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith and if God's Spirit is in you. Just because God may open a door for you to do a certain task doesn't mean you have it all together. In fact, in ministry, you will be in need of Christ even more than before. Satan will be sure to attack you. I think I underestimated the amount of spiritual assault that would come upon me and my family within the first year of joining Open Air Campaigners. The hardest times in my life thus far that I can remember have happened after I chose to be an evangelist with the organization. I don't regret my decision, but I wish I had taken more time to fortify myself with God's Word so I could have fought the Enemy back more effectively.

    I also wish I would have checked myself for my now-diagnosed Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder. I believe I had it since I was young. It has affected every single area of my life. Because I have a hard time following people in conversation and miss signals to properly understand context, I sometimes misinterpret what people are saying, which has caused confusion, frustration, and anger on my part. This problem showed itself soon after I joined OAC. By the grace of God, my condition is managed through medication, counseling, and prayer. I would encourage anyone, especially anyone considering joining the mission field, to seriously consider their mental health. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your colleagues whom you will affect through your emotions and actions.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
I have a few ways of doing this. The Internet has made it so easy to stay connected with people interested in my work. I tend to email churches to ask if they would be interested in my newsletter. I also reach out to Bible studies and kid-friendly groups if they would be interested in a sketch-board Gospel presentation. One thing I love to do is to go witnessing with people whom I have met via social media or otherwise. This is a great way to build relationships and form evangelistic partnerships to reach the lost. Being part of a missions board like Open Air Campaigners has also been key to partner with churches to reach their communities. There are churches and people whom I may have never associated with had it not been for my branch director Tom Fox paving the way for those relationships.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
The Bible, but I guess that's cheating 🙂 For books, The Way of the Master is a great model to follow in evangelism. I get many of my tools from Open Air Campaigners' online store (i.e., paints). The mission board itself supports me by helping to process donations I receive. Staff conferences truly reveal the heart of the organization, as well as what is being newly utilized by the ministry. See the below answer for more on this question.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
My branch director shows me sketch-board-related techniques and dos and don'ts of outreach and engagement and takes time with me to show me communication skills. He encourages me to reach out to others to gain support for my work and to become an evangelist who represents the Lord and the organization well.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?

  1. Know your Bible well. It is a double-edged sword, and is to be used for teaching and instruction in righteousness. This is your #1 tool for evangelism.
  2. Preach the Gospel to yourself daily. This is something my pastor-father always says. You must know and have confidence in the Gospel in order to proclaim it and teach it to others.
  3. Expose yourself to sound Bible teaching. Don't listen to teaching that tickles your ears, but sermons that convicts you and inspires you to reach higher for Christ in your spiritual walk with Him.
  4. Surround yourself with compassionate believers who will tell you the truth. There is wisdom in an abundance of counselors, Proverbs says. It is easy to walk in pride, self-righteousness, and disobedience, and yet not know it. Having accountability is crucial.
  5. Don't forget the unsaved nearest you. The people in your life are your mission field. Reach out to them in word and deed. May your every action echo of Christ.
  6. Pray for the unsaved. You can't save the lost, but you can pray for them. This is how God operates in his universe. He responds to prayer.
  7. Get some great gospel tracts. There are good, as well as bad, gospel tracts out there. Websites like onemilliontracts.com and tractplanet.com have very sound gospel tracts for a reasonable price. There are some places where you can order tracts for free; the publishers may just ask you for an optional donation.
  8. Keep your options open. There are people all around the world who have never heard of Jesus, but ultimately, let God lead you. He knows how to use you and direct you to where you need to be.
  9. Immerse yourself in the lives of missionaries. Read missionary biographies, learn about current missionaries, support missionaries, pray for them, volunteer with them, send them letters. If they are coming back to the States on furlough, reach out to help them. One great place to volunteer to help missionaries is Siloam Missionary Homes in North Carolina; they help missionaries coming back from overseas. Also, there are organizations like OAC who love volunteers because it helps us to further the Gospel. Check for OAC branches in your area who you can help volunteer with. I wrote an article on how important it is to help missionaries in https://www.mnnonline.org/2015/03/10/the-mission-in-missionaries/
  10. Take evangelism courses and seminars. Open Air Campaigners offers a weeklong Sketchboard Evangelism Training every year which is half evangelism seminar, half missions trip. This will be an unbelievable opportunity to stretch your faith to reach the lost around you. Living Waters offers a course you can take online called the School of Biblical Evangelism. This course contains 101 online lessons about how to reach the lost using the Law and the Gospel.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
This has everything to do with humility. If you are not willing to listen or be corrected, there is no sense in going into missions. Something I had to learn and continue to learn is that not every criticism is meant to tear me down. The same God who wounds also heals. Brothers and sisters in Christ are not perfect, but for the majority of the time, criticism is given in and through love. A key to extending love to others is realizing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. If you fail to realize the love that Christ has for you personally, this makes it much harder to love and forgive others. I would encourage you, before going on the mission field and as you are going, be secure in the love that God has for you.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
I would do it again, but I would do things with hopefully more courage and more security in my identity in Christ.

Rebecca Jefferson

Rebecca Jefferson

Missionary, Open Air Campaigners

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

How La’Wana Harris got Started as a Missionary in Haiti

La'Wana Harris is an author, a speaker, and a missionary to Haiti. She's led multiple trips to Haiti, focusing on education, health, orphanages, evangelism and more. Here's how she got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
Haiti

How do you serve those people?
Children's Ministry, Medical Clinics, Teaching at Orphanages and Schools, Evangelism

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
I began to realize that I had a heart for missions as a child. My grandmother and I would serve as domestic missionaries in our local community. I loved to serve the people of our community more than anything else. I remember my grandmother buying an empty cargo van and having my uncle go to the salvage yard to pull seats out of old school buses. He bolted the seats to the floor in the van and I painted the church name and address on the side of the van. I would make corn beef hash and egg salad sandwiches for the children.

That was the beginning of our youth ministry which included weekly bible study, vacation bible school and meals.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
God gave me a spirit of compassion at an early age. He allowed me to care deeply for the needs of others around me. His love also motivated me to action. I felt compelled to help those that were hurting, in need or without a relationship with Jesus Christ. He called me to Haiti during a church service. God had been speaking to my heart about going on a mission's trip for months.

One Sunday during praise and worship, God spoke to my heart letting me know that I should go serve in Haiti. Our church announced a short term mission's trip to Cabaret, Haiti the following week and the rest is history. I answered God's call and I know in my heart that I am serving in the way he created me to serve.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Initially, I did not have a clear goal for ministry in Haiti. I just wanted to go serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in any capacity that I could. The needs in Haiti are so great, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

After the earthquake in 2010, there were thousands of orphans due to the tragic loss of life. Some children were placed in orphanages and no one even knew their names. God gave me a clear vision to help the children of Haiti. I started with a large scale project to build on orphanage in Leogane, Haiti, the epicenter of the earthquake.

I partnered Samaritan's Purse on a construction project for the Greta Home and Academy. Our team dug ditches, poured concrete and tied rebar. This was my first construction mission and it was very hard work in the tropical heat of summer.

The orphanage has been completed and the program is having a tremendous impact on the children in Leogane.

God has shifted my focus to sharing the gospel through children's books. The access to quality books is very limited in Haiti. And access to books in Haitian Creole is even less.

My goal is two fold: To fulfill the great commission by sharing the gospel with children's books and to help eradicate illiteracy to break the cycle of poverty for sustainable impact. The goal for 2017 is to provide 10,000 books to the orphanages and schools in Haiti. We officially launched our “10,000 Books for Haiti” campaign in February.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
If I were starting today with the knowledge that I have gained over the years while serving in Haiti, I would take a different approach as to how we get items to the children. It has been painful and quite heartbreaking at times as we travelled to Haiti with supplies for the children. Unfortunately, there have been incidences of corruption that intercepted mission's teams at the airport and confiscated donated gifts or held them in customs for extremely high fees.

Most teams have now learned to work with 3rd party carriers to help ensure that the items go directly to the intended orphanage or school. The shipping and transportation process is quite expensive due to this complex dynamic. The extra effort required to get the items to Haiti is well worth it and often forgotten when we see those little faces light up with joy! Where God guides, He provides.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
Staying connected with our partners and supporters has been made easier by the various social media platforms. We use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and other platforms to stay connected with our partners.

We also use more traditional approaches such as our monthly newsletter. That said, nothing beats getting face to face with our partners. I try to attend as many church services, conferences and sit down discussions as possible to share our progress and God's vision for our ministry.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
My ultimate resource to guide our mission's ministry is the bible—God's instruction manual. There are also a number of books and ministry tools that help guide our path based on lessons from pioneer missionaries. Some of my favorite resources are from the Live Dead ministry lead by Dick Brogden. “To LIVE DEAD is to live life wholly for Jesus. To die to self, know God will do a greater work through you. To announce the life of God among those who are unreached.” I also enjoy reading and learning from Charles Spurgeon's writings.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
Ongoing training and coaching is extremely important for sustainable ministry that gives glory to God. I attend mission's conferences, participate in online trainings and spend time with seasoned missionaries to learn from their journeys. I am also a Rapid Response Chaplain with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. BGEA offers excellent training programs and courses in collaboration with other Christian organizations. Lifelong learning is a vital part of lifelong ministry.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
I highly recommend the Live Dead 30 day journal for those that are starting out in their mission's ministry. I also recommend reading “Operation World” by Jason Mandyrk. I remember Pastor George Daniels of Hope Fellowship Church in Raleigh, NC giving that book to me as a gift when I was getting started in mission's ministry. It was such a timely blessing, and I am sure that it will be a blessing to others. The Live Dead journal helps us with our inward look and “Operation World” helps frame our outward look.

I also recommend that new missionaries connect with a seasoned ministry team or missionary couple for mentoring, prayer and accountability.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
It is of utmost importance that we enter the mission's ministry with an open heart and a willing spirit. We must surrender our preconceived ways of thinking and working as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We've all heard the expression, “Life happens.” Well that saying is greatly amplified on the mission field.

Many times we are serving in underdeveloped areas with non-existent or minimal infrastructure. Timeliness and structure may seem to be figments of our imagination. We must have a teachable spirit that yields to the spirit of God and the local leadership in the country where we serve.

Believe it or not, there are very different approaches to do just about everything in underdeveloped areas. Our ability to remain flexible, listen to understand and demonstrate limitless grace will enable our ministry to flourish in the face of unsurmountable challenges. We will see the hand of God perform miraculous deeds when we embrace the “Surrender all” mindset.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Absolutely! Being a missionary is what I was created to do. My very existence is validated when I am surrendered to God, guided by the Holy Spirit and serving the children of Haiti.

La'Wana Harris

La'Wana Harris

Author, Speaker, Missionary

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How Bryan Thompson Got Started in Missions

How Bryan Thompson got started in Missions

Bryan Thompson trains people to reach people who can't (or prefer not to) read with the Gospel. By focusing on personal interactions and telling stories rather than pointing to books, he's able to to share God's love in ways that people understand.

Name: Bryan Thompson
Website: http://story4all.com
Where do you serve? Globally

Who are the primary people you serve?
Currently, there is no focused people group, though I have served several in the past

What do you do to serve those people?
Currently teaching all people with whom I come in contact about oral Bible storytelling/study

When did you start doing this?
Started the training side full-time in 2007

When did you realize you had a heart for missions? How did that develop?
I never had a heart for missions (as indicative of influencing my call!). 2 weeks before being saved I knew that if I was to believe this Gospel that I would need to give the rest of my life to proclaiming it. I was thus called to missions 2 weeks before I was saved! 🙂

What were you doing when God called you this direction?
I was in school (16 years old)

How did God call you? How did you recognize His call?
See 7 above. I had just a clear idea in my head that if following Christ was of worth it would mean I had to give my life to sharing the Message! I do have a specific UPG geographical calling that has not been recognised yet, but I will not be able to talk about that group by name or the country on radio or Internet

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for your ministry?
At 16, yes, it was simple. Give my life to Jesus, go where I could learn more about Him and then go where He was not known

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
I would have started with Bible storytelling in 1977!

Financial / Deputation

How are your financial needs taken care of?
God has promised to provide for me/us out of a “hidden treasury”. He has done for 40 years

How do you stay connected with your partners or supporters?
I have a monthly prayer letter (email only), a weekly brief email prayer/praise update, an almost daily email 1-prayer or praise point update, a WhatsApp prayer group where I write at least once daily. I also have a [Facebook] page that highlights what we are doing as a family and a few other things (but always avoids politics and controversial issues that would alienate some of my prayer supporters and friends – I see [Facebook] as a way to influence people to Jesus and to storytelling the Message. I use other social media to reach other prayer supporters.

How do you find new partners or supporters?
I meet them on my travels usually or people approach me through social media and occasional blogging and audio blogging (via Soundcloud)

Is there a book, tool, resource that has changed the way you stay connected?
Lots! Yikes! Tech books/screencasts on the use of tech, various titles that are missionary bios like George Müller of Bristol, etc.

Ministry / Administrative Tools

Name 2-3 tools that you couldn't live without.
Bible is what I couldn’t live without. If I think of being in prison or having everything lost in a fire, I would be sad but nothing else could be categorised as “I cannot live without”

Is there a book, tool, or resource
Tools are my Mac desktop, an iPad, and iPhone. I use various pieces of software to automate and run regular tasks and my ‘workflow’. A bit too detailed to mention here, but I would be happy to chat about how I manage life.

What do you do to be

Spiritually Healthy
3 times a day: Morning Watch, Noon Watch and Evening Watch. Bible meditation at night is a vital, healthy tool as well

Emotionally Healthy
Keeping short accounts. Don’t let sun go down on wrath. Investing in family as much as possible

Vision Driven
I don’t like “driven”, but the secret to vision is found by following #1 above under this paragraph. Also PTMTO – a series of five words the Lord gave me in the 70s. In everything I must have a life of Praise, Thanksgiving, Meditation (on the Word!), Trust & Obedience
Fully Funded Matthew vi 33. Nothing more. I obey; He supplies. Step out in obedience not when the funding allows you to! You can serve God or Mammon but not both!

Knowing what you know now, would you go again?
Duh! 🙂

  • How could your partners better serve you?
  • Spiritually: Prayer, prayer, prayer
  • Financially: Give sacrificially or hilariously
  • Otherwise: When I am out in the boonies, check to see if I would like stuff from home

What’s your advice for people just getting started?

What are some first or initial steps they could take?
Learn a life of PTMTO. Trust that God can be trusted (even if He kills you!). Don’t neglect the prayer closet and unhurried time in the Word DAILY (at least once)

What missions training did you take or could recommend before going?
The best training is the School of the Holy Spirit – trusting and obeying Him always and being in a place where you can follow that pattern and be encouraged in it. I went out for 4 years (doing a lot of kamikaze type outreach – and got arrested while at it several times) with Operation Mobilisation (OM) in Communist Europe. A friend of mine said if he had been God he would have two entry requirements for Heaven (salvation in Jesus and getting a passport). There is nothing like a good short-term missions trip as far from home as possible and outside your homeland to get you prepared for the long-term. If young, the rougher the better! The rest of my training I have continued as I go.

What do you do for ongoing training and coaching?
I take courses on the Internet, listen to podcasts, study books, attend conferences, webinars, watch screencasts and sign up for whatever I feel will help me in my missions focus and obeying Jesus better

What was/is your mindset?

A good listener (A KEY)?
Essential – listen to God/Holy Spirit. Listen to the Word. Listen to audience before preaching or telling the Message

Legalistic?
Dangerous on the field and destructive, but every missionary needs to be entirely ruthless with themselves in obeying to the detail what God has called them to do. If He says, “Don’t drink coffee!”, and then sends you to a coffee-drinking nation you need to obey Him first and foremost: don’t drink coffee – ever!

Flexible?
More than flexible. You need to die to yourself. If you are used to an individualistic society of “your space” and you go to some relational culture where “your space” is not understood, guess who has to learn to adapt. I learned through a simple choice in 1989 how to rest with people all around me, even though my rest preference was to get alone and have ‘me time’. I can do both since 1989. I’m happy with crowds in my home all the time and I am happy alone on a deserted island for weeks alone. It was a choice in 1989, and just stepping out in belief. In YWAM they used to say that you had to be “fluid” (because flexible was not good enough). Follow the Cloud and that will make you fluid!

Are you a good example of what you are presenting?
I hope so

My thanks to Bryan Thompson for taking the time to do this. To learn more about Bryan, check out his website or listen to his powerfully engaging interview.

Bryan Thompson

Bryan Thompson

Website: story4all.com

Our Fundraiser!

We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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