Walnut Street sending couple to international mission field

A couple who came to the U.S. with a Great Commission vision are in the final stages of moving to another part of the world to carry on that vision.

John* and Judy* came from East Asia to Louisville, where both earned degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. For more than seven years, John has served as one of the church pastors at Walnut Street, focusing on a cross-cultural ministry. He has a master’s degree in theology while she has a Ph.D. in church history.

Walnut Street Baptist Senior Pastor Mark Williams has watched this young missionary couple grow.

“We had a Great Commission vision when we left to come to the U.S. It was strengthened at Southern Seminary and this church,” she said. “We are surrounded by people with that vision — whether they are carrying it out here or are ready to do it (elsewhere).”

John pointed out that the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and their host country resulted in fewer students from that part of the world coming to America, prompting he and his wife to move to become missionaries with the International Mission Board.

“God reminded us why we left our home in East Asia,” Judy said as they considered their future. “God is the One who led us to Europe,” she added. “We weren’t thinking about this country at all, but God closed a door for us and opened a door in Europe.”

They are planning to leave the U.S. as soon as the paperwork is completed and take their Great Commission focus to a large country in eastern Europe, to a continent that is reported to have more lostness than any other continent. There they will be connected with other IMB missionaries and will undergo language training when they arrive at their new home.

They noted that in their new country of service, there is widespread poverty and corruption. “People there hope to leave the country and make money, but their only real hope is found in Jesus Christ,” said Judy.

John said they have been told that the country is conservative and is known for having much theological training. The main religion is Eastern Orthodox.

Once on the field, John and Judy will begin developing relationships in small groups with the desire to eventually plant churches.

A commissioning service is planned for early August by Walnut Street Baptist. The couple said the church has been very supportive of their move to their new home.

Mark Williams, senior pastor at Walnut Street, said the couple has seen significant growth in its ministry during more than seven years at the church.

“At the height of their ministry, there were 100 people involved. They are two of the most likable people on the planet, and they have a heart for cross-cultural ministry, for taking the gospel to the nations. For me, it’s no surprise that this family is going to eastern Europe.”

*Names changed for security