On a Sunday in August we introduced you to Josiah B., a man we were considering for Minister of Local and Global Missions. More recently we announced that we invited Josiah to come and that he accepted. Well, he’s here!
Josiah is on site and starting to get acquainted with our history and plans for missions. What a task that is! He’s excited and so are we. Janice and his children are still in Oklahoma but hope to be here soon.
Josiah is busy getting acquainted with the history, specifics, and relationships for missions at DSC. He was kind in this transition to take some time to answer some questions for us. In Part 1 we’ll learn a bit about Josiah’s background and family. In Part 2 we’ll learn about some of the more profound influences in his life.
We’re so glad to have you here. Thanks for doing this interview with us. How are Janice and the kids?
Thank you for asking. They are really excited to be coming to DSC and we’re all praying the house sells quickly so they can move to ABQ soon! Our youngest two, Juliet and Blaise, are doing great. We’d ask for your prayers for Janice and for our oldest, Charlotte. Janice has been struggling with a new diagnosis of a rare disease called Alpha-Gal Syndrome, which is thought to be due to a tick bite. It involves a severe allergy to all red meat (=mammal) products, and because by-products are hidden and unlabeled in so many foods (even salt and sugar and enriched flour!) it’s been a struggle to avoid reactions, and lately she’s been very sick. As for Charlotte, it was recently concluded after many tests that she has a stress fracture in her lower spine due to an accident this summer and will need to wear a back brace for at least three months. The doctor said there is a chance she may never fully heal, so we are asking for prayers that the Lord would intervene if it His will and use this trial in her life for His glory.
You’ve been in ministry for about ten years now. Tell us, briefly, where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.
Yes, I have been in ministry since college, but that wasn’t originally my plan. In college I was studying accounting, and I desired to go work for the FBI. During one of my classes I met an international student, and I desired to share the gospel with her, but I had no idea how to do that cross-culturally. So I went to the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and asked the director for advice. As a result I became very involved with their international student ministry. I enjoyed it so much I then asked the director how I could become an assistant. Upon his advice, I applied to work as a missionary with the North American Mission Board serving as a college ministry intern, working with both locals and international students on the island of Maui.
After my 8 months in Hawaii, I made a “quick stop” that Fall back in Oklahoma to see family before moving to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Forth Worth, TX. It was during these brief weeks in Oklahoma that I met Janice, and since I moved to TX, we began a long-distance relationship. The following Spring, I moved back to Oklahoma, continued seminary at an extension campus, and asked her to be my bride.
That Summer we were married and moved to South Korea a week after the wedding. We taught English together for one year at a secular school. We both had a burning desire for missions, so we decided to do bi-vocational ministry overseas. After a few months living in Korea we starting meeting expatriates that also were learning how to adjust to life in Korea. We were able to teach them the ins and outs of living as an expat and in the process we invited them to our home Bible study. During this time, we saw one man come to Christ and a Bible study turn into a small church but I also realized that I needed to continue my education in order to be a better missionary. So when our term ended we moved to Texas so I could finish my seminary education. While I was finishing seminary I also served as a Youth and Associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Venus, TX. I completed the in-country portion of my International Church-Planting M. Div. degree in Texas while we had two children, and to complete my studies we moved overseas with the International Mission Board to serve Central Asian peoples living in Germany.
We spent two years in Germany studying both German and Turkish. We met weekly with German believers to disciple and equip them in the work of reaching their Muslim neighbors alongside us, and we also met weekly with a small congregation of Muslim-background believers to encourage them in their pursuit of Christ and in their efforts to reach their neighbors as well. We saw God do some really amazing things. We were allowed to share our faith so frequently and freely. For the first time we found ourselves being the only Christian in many different people’s lives. It was a really blessed time and made us all-the-more-passionate about spreading His glory among the nations!
After our two years in Germany, the “plan” was to become career missionaries, but the Lord had other plans. Due to budget cuts we were not allowed to stay on the field. After having traveled the world, the Lord surprised us by moving us back to our home state of Oklahoma where I have served as a Pastor to Youth and College Students for the past two years. We’ve been so blessed to be near family after having lived abroad for so long, and we’ve had such a great group of students to pour into. The people at our church in Tulsa have loved us well.
But ultimately, that passion for spreading God’s fame globally has stayed alive in our hearts, and while we are grateful for our time in Oklahoma, we took this position because it allows me to participate in the mission work of equipping and sending and going. We are thrilled that God has given us the opportunity to join this like-minded body of believers at DSC and participate with you in the Great Commission.
We had a chance to meet Janice during your visit with us in May. We admired how well you two interacted and cared for one another. I know the story of how you met Janice and how you entered the mission field are mingled. Tell us the story of meeting Janice and heading to the mission field merged.
As I mentioned before, I began doing international student ministry in college with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Janice was also doing international student ministry on the same university campus; however, she was doing it through her local church, and so our paths never crossed until I heard about how successful her church’s outreach to international students was, and I decided to go check it out. They were hosting weekly Bible studies in the home of an older married couple. Janice and I were so focused on talking to international students that we almost didn’t talk to each other, but at the last minute I came over to her, started a conversation about why we loved international student ministry, and eventually parted ways. Janice thought we would never see each other again because I was moving to Texas. I ended up pursuing a relationship with her anyway! We quickly bonded over our love for Christ and over our passion for sharing His Good News with those who have never heard. Our first date sounded more like a strategy session of asking how committed we were to obeying the Great Commission, and where we wanted to serve. Just 11 months after that first meeting we were married, and immediately set off to go do cross-cultural ministry in Korea. Our relationship began with cross-cultural ministry, and it has really been a defining and unifying passion throughout our entire marriage.
How did you first find out about DSC and what resonated most with you in learning about our church?
I first found out about DSC when I was searching through The Gospel Coalition’s job board. I read the description of your church, of what you were looking for in a missions minister, and I was extremely excited. I quickly sent you my resume. We promptly found your church’s blog and website, began listening to your sermons, and found you guys to be very thoughtful and like-minded in your theology. We were blessed by your devotion to Scripture as your authority and your desire to see Christ prized by all peoples. We longed to be a part of a church that shared our values. As we had already for years been following The Gospel Coalition’s website, we felt a kinship with you. Having the opportunity to meet you all in person and worship with you at DSC, our hearts rejoiced to confirm what we already knew!
The cultures in Oklahoma and Albuquerque are quite different. Why was Albuquerque appealing to you?
Yes, Albuquerque is quite different from “Green Country” (that’s the nickname for the Tulsa area where we’re moving from). We desired to move west of Oklahoma and out of the Bible Belt in order to be able to make a greater impact on lostness. Two summers ago I visited Santa Fe on a mission trip with my youth ministry where we did backyard Bible clubs. It didn’t take long for me to see the lack of biblical literacy present in New Mexico compared to Oklahoma, and as we’ve taken the time to study some general demographics, our hearts were tugged to go somewhere where there is less access to the gospel.
You’re coming to us from Oklahoma where you’re doing youth ministry. You have a background in missions. Why are you seeking a role in mobilization instead of going to the field?
Though our hearts are eagerly willing to uproot our lives and children and go to the ends of the earth to spread His Good News, the Lord has simply not allowed that for us at this time. Janice’s health problems have become too complicated to live overseas for the foreseeable future. We recognize that this is a limitation that God has allowed for His reasons, although mysterious to us at times, and we are at peace with that. We feel like God has allowed this opportunity to fulfill our heart’s desire to be more actively involved in mission work without needing to physically move overseas. I am hopeful that my past experiences living overseas will help me to serve DSC and love your workers who are living abroad. I am very excited about the opportunity to not only go myself, but to mobilize others as well.
From your experience, what was hardest part of being on the mission field? What was the greatest part?
The hardest part of living on the mission field for me was language. Learning language is hard. Speaking in a language that is not your mother tongue can be taxing on the brain, and sometimes you just want a break, but you may not get a break until you get home and the only person you can really, truly communicate with is your wife. It felt at times as though we were living on an island. We went to German church each week, but we weren’t actually able to comprehend and be encouraged by sermons until far into our stay there. That’s probably the other side of that difficulty. The lack of Christian community can be really hard. We had to listen to sermons online. It was rare to be able to sing praises with other believers in our mother tongue.
The greatest part was being able to share the gospel with people who had never heard it before. We had a friend we connected with, and the only contact he had previously had with Christianity was what he had learned in his Muslim school. Janice had a whole group of North African ladies who asked her to teach them what Christians believe, because they had always been so curious, but they had never personally known a Christian who would be willing to share with them.
You’ve completed a Master’s of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tell us about that degree and how it will help you in your role here.
I completed a Master’s of Divinity with an emphasis in International Church Planting. I chose this degree because I was able to get the full benefit of a Master’s of Divinity in learning how to better interpret the Word of God so that I can faithfully preach the text. Yet I was also able to study missiology and learn how to plant churches in a cross-cultural setting. I was blessed to study under professors who had not only previously served as missionaries, but also as directors and mobilizers for hundreds of missionaries. I believe that my knowledge and experience gained in this program will allow me to better equip the church body to not only support our church planters but to also personally participate in the great commission.