Ministry to Eswatini never ended for missionary alumnus

When Wayne Myers, a retired International Mission Board missionary, returns to visit Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) he never goes alone. He wants churches in the United States to catch the vision he has for the church in Eswatini. So, he always takes a short-term mission team with him.

Susan Bryant remembers well the trip she and others took with Myers. It was in 2017, two years after he and his wife Barbara retired from the IMB. As they drove down the road, Susan couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with admiration for the relationship the retired missionary still had with the people of Eswatini.

Former IMB missionary Wayne Myers prepares for a baptism with believers in Eswatini. Myers, who is now the lead pastor of Frenchburg Baptist Church in Frenchburg, Kentucky, makes a point to stay engaged in ministry among the people they served overseas. He still leads trips back to Eswatini frequently. IMB Photo

“We couldn’t drive down the street. People would stop our vehicle to say hi to Wayne, to shake his hand,” Susan said. “They were so happy to see him.”

With each interaction she observed between the missionary and the nationals, the love that he had for the people and the love the people had for him was apparent. That hasn’t changed, even though some time has passed.

At the time of the trip, Susan was an IMB trustee, and she was the president of the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union. She went on the trip to train women, specifically pastors’ wives, teaching them Baptist basics. She and her team not only served the women of the church, but they were there to help the community as well — doing evangelism where they could and meeting felt needs.

Wayne and Barbara Myers served as IMB missionaries for 23 years in Eswatini. Photo Provided

Since his retirement in 2015, the former missionary continues to average two trips per year back to his beloved Eswatini. He never goes alone, always leading a group from the U.S. back with him. Returning to the field is only natural, since he and Barbara spent 23 years of their lives living among the people, sharing the gospel, planting churches, and watching them grow into healthy, evangelistic, national churches.

Myers, who is now the lead pastor of Frenchburg Baptist Church in Frenchburg, Kentucky, makes a point to stay engaged in ministry among the people they served overseas. He says not a week goes by where he’s not talking to an Eswatini believer through WhatsApp.

Barbara hasn’t been able to return to the country since they left, as she cares for her mother as her health declines. Still, she stays in close communication with nationals as well. She takes the information she receives from Eswatini churches, and weekly, she writes a prayer letter on their behalf. Much like they did while they were still full-time missionaries, they distribute the newsletter to prayer partners in the U.S., leading them to pray for national churches. Barbara has rarely missed a week of this practice in over 30 years. Both Barbara and Wayne are excited that her first trip back to the country will happen in October, as a 50th wedding anniversary gift to themselves.

Mobilizing churches to do missions has long been a passion of the Myerses. In fact, while they were still on the field, First Baptist Church, Washington, North Carolina, supported his ministry through partnership overseas. Now that he’s based in the U.S., he partners with them to lead groups from that church or other churches in the U.S. on mission trips. He personally leads at least two teams per year (on average) and coordinates a handful of others (at least once a quarter). He spends time training them to do ministry in Eswatini, connecting them with national believers. He loves his role initiating these short-term trips, equipping and encouraging Southern Baptists to pour into the people he spent decades serving.

Chris Msibi with Wayne Myers. Msibi is the son of the first woman the Myerses led to faith. Photo provided

Myers keeps his connections by staying in close contact with national believers like Chris Msibi. Chris is the son of the Myerses’ first convert. When they first met him, he knew very little English and was taking Bible correspondence courses to improve his English. In time, he came to faith. He is now the chairman of the Baptist pastor’s national organization and is pastor of the first church the Myerses started in one particular region. As Wayne and Barbara partner from a distance, Msibi’s been a main contact for visiting churches from the U.S.

While in the country, volunteer teams spend a day or so getting acquainted with the area by prayerwalking. Then, the focus of ministry is dual – leadership training and evangelism. In the past few years, they’ve started a weekend-long pastor training program, with pastors and their wives. Nearly every pastor in the local association attends the training events, hungry for the experience and biblical doctrine the visitors bring. During the time the teams are in the country, they hold revival services, too.

This year, Myers is beginning to implement hospice buckets — that are being funded through generous churches in the United States and packaged locally — as inroads to the gospel. The buckets will contain necessities for survival, like lentils, and hygiene items to help family members care for those who are dying of HIV (a prevalent illness in the country) and other diseases.

When asked why he continues serving the people of Eswatini, even after his retirement from the IMB, Myers simply responded, “The Lord just hadn’t let me go. Even though I’m here, my call is still there — to call out others God is raising up to go.

“My heart is still there,” he added.

He finds the work he does so fulfilling now, because he can take the deep relationships he developed and fostered over the years, and he can help bridge the gap between Eswatini churches and Southern Baptist churches in the U.S. “I love the IMB. I’m forever grateful for the support of Southern Baptists. There’s no way I would have ever even been a missionary to Eswatini, had it not been for them.”