Housing missionaries stirs ‘exciting journey'
    November 8 2013 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

    North Carolina Baptists are helping add to the list of housing options for missionaries when they are on stateside assignment.
    “It’s been a thrilling experience,” said Jimmy Johnson, pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Rose Hill. He has been leading the way for finishing a missionary house in Eastern Baptist Association (EBA).

    While the years of recruiting volunteers as well as supplies has been stressful, Johnson said he’s taken “great pleasure” in the last 18 months leading up to the dedication Sept. 15 in Wallace. He knows the house will be a blessing to a missionary family.
    “The Lord just popped things in so fast,” he said, referring to all those details near the completion of the house. “You know He can do it but when it’s happening … it’s scary.”
    Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) in Birmingham, Ala., keeps a master list of short- and long-term housing available to missionaries. Recently they’ve seen a trend with churches adding the parsonage to the list. More pastors want to find their own home.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
    The living room of the Eastern Baptist Association missionary house was used during the September dedication service as a place to visit and watch a slideshow of the progress of the house renovations that took about five years.

    Around 530 homes are on the long-term housing list. North Carolina is the second largest contributor with 58 homes. Texas has 97 houses. On the short-term housing list, there are four states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas – that offer 10 homes each. Short-term housing refers to houses that are available maybe a weekend or a week or two, whereas long-term housing is available for six months or longer. Housing availability varies depending on the area, but some might charge a little rent while others charge only for utilities. Each option is different.
    The EBA is in the process of submitting the paperwork to add its missionary house to the list. Dan and Faye Sellers bought the Wallace property next to their house about five years ago. The house had several tenants over the years but owners had not made needed repairs.
    “I was going to tear the house down and clean up the place,” said Dan Sellers, pastor of Magnolia Baptist Church in Magnolia. But God had different plans. Sellers had been part of talks within EBA about having a missionary house. The association rented a house for a N.C. couple on stateside assignment from the International Mission Board. That experience planted a seed for the idea of having a house they could use to host missionaries.
    Sellers oversaw the initial three years of renovation. Volunteers have given time, talent and supplies to help with the renovations, which involved gutting the house. Coordinating flood recovery efforts in the area prepared Sellers for this renovation, he said.
    “It’s been quite an exciting journey,” Sellers said. “We’re real happy with what we’ve got.”
    Paul Langston, EBA director of missions, praises Jimmy Johnson and Dan and Faye Sellers for their efforts with the missionary house. “[Jimmy] knows people far better than I ever will,” Langston said. “He can get a lot more done than I ever could.”
    Johnson said that while it’s taken longer than anticipated to finish the project, he has been blessed to see the number of people involved in making it happen.
    “We’re getting excited about putting it to work,” Johnson said.

    A place to call home

    “To me [there] couldn’t have been a better use,” said Kitty Judge Vaughan, who spent her childhood in the house. Her father built it during World War II. Vaughan says she remembers moving there when she was 3 years old.
    “I’m overwhelmed that it has been restored,” she said. “Momma and Daddy would be very pleased.”

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
    Eastern Baptist Association hosted a house dedication in September to recognize the availability of the building above for missionaries on stateside assignment.

    Vaughan said she has made a habit of driving by the old house when she comes to Wallace to visit the cemetery. She is thankful the Sellers bought the place and that the association will be allowing someone special, aka missionaries, to use the house.
    “It was definitely in shambles when they took it over,” she said. “I’m tickled to death that it looks like a home.”
    Vaughan said she believes her parents and sister are smiling from heaven at the restored house and the possibility of using the house for missionaries.
    “I really appreciate all the labor and all that went into it,” she said. “This house was built with love. It holds a lot of memories.”

    Mission opportunity

    More than 80 people attended the dedication service Sept. 15 and toured the home.
    “This is a great day and a great opportunity for this association,” said Lynn Sasser, executive leader of congregational services for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

    “What you have before you is a concrete example of what it means to be on mission.”
    A missionary who was at the dedication service said having a place like the EBA missionary house will allow a missionary to rest spiritually and physically.

    Another house

    While EBA has completed its missionary house, it is not the only house available in its association. Another house is available through Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Clinton. The church added its parsonage to the WMU list in July.
    Bonnie Calcutt, wife of the church’s pastor, W.H. Calcutt, has been working with her fellow church members to get the house ready.
    When her husband began pastoring Hickory Grove the couple already lived five miles from the church so the parsonage was not being used.
    “The deacons met and decided that our parsonage needed to be used for something important,” Calcutt said.
    She said the house has been fully renovated, including new plumbing, wiring and flooring.
    “It’s ready and available,” she said. “We will just be thrilled when we get a real live missionary.”
    Calcutt and others have been busy picking out furniture and supplies for the house as well as preparing a welcome kit to help missionaries learn where things are when they arrive.
    She said WMU helped the church understand what was needed and guided them through the application process.
    Calcutt’s involvement with the associational missionary house helped inspire her to be part of making a missionary home at her church.
    “I wanted it to look like you would say, ‘I want to sit down and stay awhile,’” she said. “It’s been a joy more than you can know preparing for it.”
    For more information about providing a missionary house, contact WMU at (205) 991-8100 or email@wmu.org.
    11/8/2013 12:58:01 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: missionary housing, WMU

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