Mix-Up Leads to Missions Connection

Retired Air Force veteran Wally Contreras has always had a passion for missions. During overseas tours of duty in Europe and Central, he developed an appreciation for cross-cultural experiences.

Since becoming the pastor of First Baptist Church of Gahanna, Ohio, he has helped strengthen the congregation’s commitment to international missions. Contreras prayed that God would lead the church toward the goal to fully support a missionary family serving abroad.

When asked in March 2020 by International Mission Board staff how they could pray for him, Contreras responded,  “Pray that God would send us missionaries and raise up missionaries from this congregation. I want us to have a strong connection to the field.”

When the pandemic occurred it seemed like the congregation’s desire to be more intentionally engaged in missions would be delayed until a chance encounter emerged that fall. Receiving a call from a local crisis pregnancy center, Contreras was approached about bringing baby bottle coin collection containers to his church. 

Readily agreeing, the next day, unknown to Contreras, a different crisis pregnancy center called and arranged a delivery baby bottle coin collection containers that same day. Believing that he was speaking with the same crisis pregnancy center, Contreras met with the agency’s representative Christal later that day.

During their interactions, Christal asked if First Baptist had an established missionary connection. She shared that her son and daughter-in-law had just become IMB missionaries and were in the process of visiting churches to invite them to partner in the mission work.

Contreras asked, “Where were they going?” 

Christal replied, “Central Asia.” In fact, the couple would be serving a few hours from where Contreras had once lived while on an overseas military rotation. 

Feeling the Holy Spirit at work, Contreras described a feeling of knowing God had just answered his prayers.

The next day, Contreras received a phone call from the original crisis pregnancy center and soon realized his “mistake.” Apologizing to the woman on the phone, he informed her that another crisis pregnancy center had come by yesterday and dropped off fundraiser containers.

Reflecting on the experience, Contreras remarked, “It was through my own mistake. The Lord wanted to make sure that I couldn’t take any credit for this. By my own error, the Lord brought us the missionaries we were praying for.”

Soon after initially meeting Christal, Contreras arranged a meeting with Christal’s son George and his wife Judy. After the meeting with the young couple, Contreras informed the church,  “The Lord is calling us to partner with a ministry in Central Asia.”

Elated by the news and the connection, First Baptist partnered to help support the missionaries. 

“Get your passports ready because I’m dragging y’all to go visit these people,” Contreras told his church. “We need to be ready to have full skin in the game.”If you or your church is ready to make a missionary connection, email info@imb.org. Through the Church Connections strategy, IMB missionaries are hoping to connect with every Southern Baptist church.

Source: Baptist Press