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!

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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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.”

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How Matthew Meyer Got Started as a Missionary to Poland

How Matthew Meyer Got Started as a Missionary to Poland

Matthew Meyer has made some pretty extreme regional changes, moving from Alaska to the southern United States. Now he's a missionary who recently moved to Poland. Here's how he got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
Krakow, Poland, Polish People

How do you serve those people?
Anything from street evangelism, church planting, community outreaches, teaching english, volunteering in orphanages, and one on one discipleship.

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
It was in college when I had the opportunity to go on a 5 week mission trip to east Asia.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
At first it just seemed like something as a Christian I was suppose to do, but quickly during my time over there God showed my the vast amount of lostness and the lack of access to the gospel.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Yes, I believe God has called me to be in church planting in an international context, not just one church, but however many God chooses to allow me to be a part of.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
Coming to faith a little bit later in life (when I was 18, now I'm 26) I wish I would have taken scripture memorization more seriously. I am working on it constantly, but having the ability to hide scripture in your heart that way I believe is not only a valuable to for evangelism, but personal closeness with Christ.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
Many times it is through mutual contacts that I meet new people. As far as existing contacts we do monthly email updates and bi-yearly video updates. Close contacts we try and do video chats with almost every month at least.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
There are many great tools and books out there, but for me my best resource has been learning from people that have been on the field much longer than me. We have many teammates that have been on the ground in Poland and other parts of Europe much longer than us, their wisdom and experience is invaluable.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
The IMB has many avenues for this, such as assigned mentors and supervisors. I have the privilege of working directly under the Affinity leader for Europe, Mark Edworthy. He has been a valued friend and mentor in many areas.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Seek God's will in all things, try to identify how exactly God may get you wherever He may be taking you. Take every opportunity to be heavily involved in ministry where you are now, don't wait to become a “missionary” to start ministry, it does not work that way.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
All these things are some of the most important attributes and skills you must have to be successful. Everything changes when you move into a new culture, being flexible and teachable allows learning a new culture to go much smoother and having grace for others and yourself will help you grow faster then you could imagine. Always be able to laugh at yourself, don't be too serious, especially in language and culture acquisition.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
I may only be 8 months in, but absolutely yes!

Matthew Meyer

Matthew Meyer

Missionary to Poland

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 Terry Hoggard Got Started as a Missionary

Terry Hoggard has served in Europe as a missionary, has helped create networks of churches supporting each other and growing together and he's now working with Convoy of Hope. This is how he got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
Serve globally with Convoy of Hope International and in International Church development

How do you serve those people?

  • Crafting strategies
  • Coaching synergy
  • Creating solutions

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
In 1972 I was impacted, in 1982 I was profoundly impacted.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
On a mission trip to Columbia in 1972, as the result of divine awareness in 1982.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Yes … to passionately engage with progressive leaders to co-create a change process that will inspire and to develop strategic initiatives that promote networking opportunities.​

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
Be more aware of the organic development that comes thru obedience and excellence.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
By building covenant, communicating intentionally and creating meaningful connection.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
Identify and connect with like-minded and right-spirited individuals.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
I pursued coaching certifications and receive training “life on life” engagement.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Take the time to build a solid academic foundation … and keep building!

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
Awareness of the possibility that people bring to us if only they can be heard.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Absolutely … and love it all the more!

Terry Hoggard

Terry Hoggard

Missionary, Vice President: Convoy of Hope International Program

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 Dylan Dodson got Started as a Church Planter at New City Church in Raleigh, NC

Dylan Dodson is a pastor, podcaster, and church planter in Raleigh, NC. God has been incredibly faithful to him over the years. Here's how he got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
New City Church in Raleigh NC

How do you serve those people?
Lead Pastor

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
Not until after my father died when I was 19. Up until that point, I never really thought or had a desire to go into vocational ministry.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
Difficult to answer briefly :). Biggest turning point was a few weeks after my father died, I really felt that pastoring/church planting was what God was leading me to be a part of.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
The vision for New City Church is to be actively reaching 50,000 people by 2040. We hope that God would allow us to be part of something like this through the planting of churches, so that collectively, through us and the churches we send out, we are reaching 50,000 together.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
So many things! I don't think I can answer this briefly!

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
Since we begin the church planting process a couple of years back, we have built an email list. That and social media is how most people who aren't a part of New City Church stay up to date with what we are doing.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
We are part of the Acts 29 church planting network. Community is so important! We have been blessed with some great people as well at New City Church. I've read too many books on pastoring/church planting to really select just a few. I would say always being willing to learn and grow from others is key.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
Through Acts 29, as well as local pastor gatherings I am a part of in my area.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
For church planting. A lot of people say they want to do church planting, but aren't willing to submit themselves to a local church and serve faithfully there (everyone wants to skip right to planting a church). I have yet to see someone plant a healthy church where they did not first serve somewhere else. With that, find a network or denomination or somewhere to get trained and assessed. You cannot plant a church on your own.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
Realize you don't have it all figured out. Be willing to try new things and fail, and also be willing to take wise counsel. Also don't think (because it isn't true) that there are no other churches where you are planting that don't really love Jesus or “do church” the right way. Learn from those in your area who have been doing ministry there longer than you!

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Great question. Church planting is one of those things (like most journeys in life), where if you saw what you would have to go through and deal with before you had to deal with it, it would be really hard to commit to doing it. I would certainly do some things differently if I had to do it all over again, that would hopefully make the process a little sooner. At the end of the day, if people are meeting Jesus as a result of what we are doing, all the difficulty in the world is worth it.

Dylan Dodson

Dylan Dodson

Pastor, Church Planter

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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