Don Armstead was recently a guest on the Engaging Missions Show. While we were talking, he shared how God took him to Chicago, then back to Texas and saw him through numerous transitions in his career, in ministry, and more. Now he's a bivocational missionary to the Philippines.
Here's how he got started.
How to Connect with Don
- Don's Website: http://dwafm.org
- Don's Email: Don@dwafm.org
- Twitter: @pastorarmstead
- Skype: DWAFM
- Message Line: 800-865-6346
Where and what people do you primarily serve?
I primarily focus on the people of the Philippines for Missions. Although I have yet to visit in person, I'm working with other nations also.
How do you serve those people?
I focus on discipleship through preaching, teaching and living with the people. My largest project there is my medical, dental, optical mission to a remote island. I help in feeding Christian youth camps and I help with education/tuition needs as they arise. Then there are the unexpected needs that reveal themselves, like building a house for a family in need of shelter. I also support existing and pioneering ministries according to their needs.
When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
When I was invited by a Christian youth camp to be their worship leader in the Philippines. It was expected to be a one time visit. That's what the people expect from visiting missionaries. However, after being there for two months, experiencing the hunger of the young people for the gospel of Christ, my life was changed.
How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
I experienced great conviction when I was in conversation with young people whose largest burden, in the midst of other pressing needs, was that their parents were not saved. I also saw the need for encouragement and teaching among the pastors and ministry leaders. I heard the convictions of pastors who wanted to go to remote places to minister but could not due to finances. I then received clarity of my scriptural conviction in Isaiah 49:1-3 which serves as a personal confirmation of my anointing for multicultural and international ministry. This is the passage God used to speak to me when I accepted His call into ministry in 1989.
Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
My goal is simply to live a surrendered life, completing every assignment I believe God gives me. Currently developing a home base in the Philippines to enable more consistent ministry to the people of the islands, my vision is to facilitate the transition of other potential missionaries who have yet to answer their calling. My strategy is to establish a somewhat American style residence/headquarters to accommodate travel between the U.S. and the Philippines.
I believe that since many people are not very adventurous when it comes to travel abroad, providing a “safe” house with American style bathrooms will be a great place to start. Once in the country, they will be able to experience the mission field with low collateral damage for all parties involved.
It would also be a great teaching site because many of the theological study books and commentaries available to Americans are not easily accessible to ministry leaders in the Philippines. One of the reasons for this is because of their internet challenges due to not having their own satellite. I measure the effectiveness of my ministry by one fruit at a time.
What would you do differently if you were starting today?
I don't think I would change how I began this ministry. It was started based on the heartfelt needs of the people. Like the founder to the Dream House, I find needs and I fill them. Through my living with the people, I believe I have an honest indigenous perspective of life in their country. Through living with the people, I discover real needs and allow God to use me to meet those needs.
How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
Facebook has been my primary method of contacting supporters. Communicating with my friends in the Philippines requires a commitment to use Facebook since it's free. When I'm home in the states, Facebook allows us to maintain and build our relationships and conduct necessary planning for my next arrival. Since July of 2017, I have conducted a weekly live international Bible study on Facebook to get God's Word to those in need of sound teaching. Thankfully I have recently built a new website, DWAFM.org, that should be a nerve center for most things concerning DWA Foreign Missions.
What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
As an independent missionary, podcasts like yours are a great resource for me! They keep me current on resources focusing on missions. I learn about ministry techniques and strategies being used in the field today. I study the Bible using a core group of primarily word for word dynamic translations. Being a pastor of a local church, I also do a lot of teaching and preaching regularly here in the U.S. while I'm here.
How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
Besides podcasts and webinars, I have two local, experienced missionaries who I fellowship with regularly. It's always a rich encounter with these two who are my seniors in the field.
What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Work in your local church. It's valuable and irreplaceable training. Surrender to God so that you give Him the flexibility to use you how He wants to, directing you according to His plan, choosing the people groups He is sending you to.
What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
The mindset I have, I believe is sufficient for flourishing as a believer, surrendered to God.
I am responsible for obedience. God is responsible for results. By faith, I must walk in love, forgiveness. This filters my life to live in a place of proper discernment and right motives, hearing and seeing the truth in myself, others and situations that present themselves. I remain teachable. I continue to teach. I am God's love in action.
Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Yes, only I would begin sooner!