How Don Armstead Got Started

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

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!

What I Told a Publisher About the Engaging Missions Community

I've recently started talking with authors and publishers about books that I think would be valuable for you as a part of the Engaging Missions community. One of them asked some really good questions about you so that she could make sure she was providing books that would be valuable.

I really appreciate that. Because it shows that she cares.

However, it's not easy to describe the Engaging Missions community, so I thought about it and sent her something. Now I'm sharing it with you, too.

You're welcome 🙂

Peace!

Links and Resources

Check out the most recent episode of the Engaging Missions Show!

How Jean Johnson Got Started as a Missionary

How Jean Johnson Got Started as a Missionary

After ministry experiences in high school and training in college, Jean Johnson began ministering to Southeast Asians in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While you might think that would prepare her for her first experiences overseas, she discovered that some of the things she thought were assets actually held her back.

After years of ministry experience, she wrote a book, “We are Not the Hero: A Missionary's Guide to Sharing Christ, Not a Culture of Dependency.” Here's more about her and how she got started.

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
We serve the sent, the senders, the trainers, and the recipients of mission efforts.

How do you serve those people?
Come alongside this global community to create a culture of dignity, sustainability, and multiplication in Great Commission efforts.

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
In high school, I had a rather rapid and intentional connection to first generation S.E. Asian refugees who came to Minneapolis. I befriended them and asked to learn their story, while my peers avoided them due to their differences.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
In college, I asked God questions such as, “Who learns the Cambodian, Hmong, Vietnamese culture to such a degree they can make the good news make sense to that people group?” This is a dangerous question to ask God. He led me to prepare myself for such a task. At this point, I changed my major from the social sciences to cross-cultural communications.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
My goal was reformed and refined with experience. I believe I have landed back at the beginning in some ways: make disciples who have the vision and capability to makes disciples in their God-given context.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
I would NOT plant or model the Western church in places like Cambodia.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
The organization I direct, Five Stones Global, blogs intentionally about dignity, sustainability, and multiplication, which encourages, equips, and challenges partners and supporters. Otherwise we send newsletters and other forms of communication. Our website is intriguing and informative: fivestonesglobal.org

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
We Are Not The Hero is popular. We are coming out with a Participant's Guide and Videos the middle of Jan. 2018. Additionally, a new workbook is headed your way: Standing on Our Own Feet: Strengthening Church Dignity in Our Global Mission Efforts

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
Our speciality is coaching and training based on our tagline: DAY 1 affects DAY 100 and We Are Not The Hero. If desired, please visit fivestonesglobal.org or email admin@fivestonesglobal.org

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Our DAY 1 affects DAY 100 tagline reveals that the beginning is important. We will either inhibit or strengthen local dignity, sustainability, or multiplication as we lay foundations. If you are interested in Five stones Global training, we suggest your start with the DAY 1 affects DAY 100 Introductory workshop or go through the We Are Not The Hero book, guide, and video with a small group or team.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
Globalization has fooled us into thinking the cross-cultural work is no longer our role. So, we organize and conceptualize the mission task based on our culture, standard of living, and church experience. In the end, we end up with people striving to be American Christians.

A critical mindset to overcome this is to take on the apostle Paul's attitude and approach: “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
I would do it all again, but set a goal to be a humble learner before a doer in cross-cultural work; and count learning as ministry.

Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson

Missionary, Servant

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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Live Demonstration of Hindenburg Journalist Pro

Live Demonstration of Hindenburg Journalist Pro

I use several pieces of software to record and produce the Engaging Missions Show, as well as the other shows I edit. Last night (as I'm writing this), I was able to do a live demonstration of how I use Hindenburg Journalist Pro to record, edit, and publish podcasts. If you're thinking about starting a podcast or are just interested in Hindenburg Journalist, I'd recommend that you check this out.

If you'd like to connect with more podcast editors, check out Steve Stewart's Podcast Editors Club on Facebook. And if you'd like to connect with more people who use Hindenburg Journalist to record and edit podcasts, visit HindyUsers.com.

And if you found this valuable, please feel free to share it with other people who you think might also find it valuable.

How Beth Ann Watkins Got Started as a Missionary

How Beth Ann Watkins Got Started as a Missionary

Beth Watkins has had an interesting journey that's included quick exits from countries, a cross-cultural marriage, and more. Here's how she got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
I spent 6 years working in closed countries in North Africa and in South Sudan working with vulnerable and marginalized populations, specifically street children and refugees. Because of health reasons, we've now resettled back in the US, and I'm currently looking for employment and volunteer opportunities to continue working with marginalized and immigrant populations.

How do you serve those people?
I worked with small local NGOs in various capacities, but my focus was primarily on job skills and development, particularly looking to help people not have to engage in dangerous activities to generate income, and focus on helping people be self sufficient.

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
I was so intrigued by the world outside of the US ever since I was a kid, and about high school I really started considering ministry and life overseas as a vocation. By the time I was 17 or so that set my trajectory, and worked toward a life of ministry overseas.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
It was kind of gradual, and also kind of all at once. I can trace it back through books I read, experiences in church, pleading 16-year-old journal entries. Just all along the way as I grew in my faith, and grew into my faith, I knew I wanted to serve God with my life, and this ended up being what made the most sense to me.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
No, I just wanted to be faithful. That led me to North Africa and I couldn't have been happier about it.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
Thats a tough question for me at the moment. I'm currently having health struggles–it's why I had to leave the field–and they are a result of long-term stress and trauma. We still don't know the long-term affects, or how this will affect our lives down the way. So while I wish we'd had more support, and that there was more discussion about these sorts of costs for eager young people going into missions, I don't have any regrets.

Many of the challenging circumstances we faced were completely unforeseen, and all we could keep doing was just take the next step, not knowing what else was ahead. While I'm deeply sad about leaving the field, and still grappling with health issues as a result of the life I choose–doing my best to follow where God led me–I'm not sure what I could have or would choose to have done differently. What I've seen and experienced have changed me in profound ways, and while much of it was painful, I know I'm better for it. That, and I met my husband overseas, and that does make all of the rest seem worth it!

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
While I'm no longer on support, I do still blog avidly as I did while I was overseas to keep up with supporters, and I still send out a regular newsletter about recognizing our neighbors and loving them, and even our enemies, wherever we find ourselves.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
I find relationships are always the best resource and tool, and reading everything you can by people who have gone before you, and also about the places and histories of the people in the places where you are are so important. Now that we find ourselves back in the US, I am trying to read everything I can from people in America whose contexts and experience are very different from mine, as a middle-class white woman. I think wherever you are, whatever you do, it's important to recognize you can only see so much from your perspective, and it's so important to seek out the voices of those who can help you understand what you can't or don't see.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Get as much training as you can, and spend time really developing skills. I was pretty young and bright-eyed when I went overseas, and though God was very gracious and I found my feet while I was there, I do wish I'd taken more time developing real skills for overseas work. Which can be many things depending on what you're hoping to do, such as first aid training, ESL, grant-writing. Read books like “When Helping Hurts,” and “A Smoldering Wick.” Get and take advice from those on the ground, plan to take time to study language–it really does make a huge difference.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
Take the posture of a learner, always. Be willing to listen first, especially in your first few years, but really at every opportunity. No matter how much you know, you know less than the locals, less than your colleagues, and really be ok with that. Even in my last 2 years overseas as I was supervising a multi-cultural team of 7, I always asked questions, always listened first, always asked advice. This doesn't mean hesitating to act, but as you do, recognize you alway wear your own cultural glasses that mean you can't always see things in the best way. Also, love people! Find people to love, and it makes the rest of it all much easier.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Absolutely. (Though I probably wouldn't recommend to others the exact path I trod!)

Beth Watkins

Beth Watkins

Missionary: Recently Retired

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.”

Become a patron!

The Engaging Missions Show is made possible, in part, by generous donations from listeners like you. If you'd like to know more about how you can be involved, visit our Patron Page.

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