As never before, churches in America are engaging the entire world with the good news of Jesus. As I wrote previously, my first mission trip was to Brazil in 1982. There would be many more adventures in missions to follow. Let me write about mission trips at Crestview. Crestview wrote its first check in 1961 to missions. Crestview prayed for missionaries throughout the history of the church and still does. As far as I can find in the records, there had only been one mission trip taken by the church prior to our arrival. That trip was within the United States and was largely a youth trip. Our first adventure at Crestview was to Miguel Aleman, Mexico and Roma, Texas. This was 1996. I had established a relationship with these cities while at Kingsville. They sit on a border crossing not too far from Monterrey, Mexico. We took a group of youth and sponsors and did an open air ministry to children in Roma. We also ministered and witnessed in Miguel Aleman. We did door to door evangelism in Roma and a revival at night. It was a great week with exciting results. My family was invited to Sidney, Australia and we went on an amazing trip to preach in ethnic churches all over Sydney. We next took a team of youth and adults to Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. We had helped to plant a church there while in Kingsville and they were glad to host us. We did medical screenings, a revival, children’s ministry, and street evangelism. God blessed us greatly on that trip. Our daughter, Brooke, and son Chase were part of the team. We followed these trips by several trips to communities in South Texas where the evangelical witness is lacking. On these trips, I watched our young people do amazing work. We had revival type services at night in most cases, did street evangelism, children’s ministry, and remodeling of facilities. God opened the door to Russia due to the efforts of Bill Gravell who was at the time an evangelist and member. We also worked in the Dominican Republic for several years because of his effort.
Reed and Glenna Iwami took their family on a trip to visit their son who was doing missions in Burma, and came home with a vision to help the people there. They shared it with me and many others and our long standing connection with that country in Southeast Asia began. Our son, Chase, and his wife, Meagan, serve there in missions now as a part of our church’s mission efforts.
One day I got a call from the Director of Missions in Austin. He told me he had a Romanian pastor whom he was seeking to find a place to preach. We are not in Austin association so I asked why he called me. He said all of the pastors in Austin had turned down the offer because they had other programs planned. I asked if the pastor had been serving during the revolution in Romania. He answered that he had, and I said send him to us. That was Paul Negrut of Oradea, Romania. This is one of the most famous evangelical pastors in the world. He blessed us immeasurably and challenged me and our choir to come to Oradea. We went and thus began our ministry in Romania. Our first lay leader was Josh Crozier. Our current leader in Romania is Greg Knight. He is greatly assisted by Sandra Adair in these adventures. A large number of our people have been on trips to Romania. We support Romanian missionaries in the ongoing work there.
We have made a number of trips to India because of Mike and Janet Chandler who were called to missions while members at Crestview in our early years here. Mike and Janet were members of our church in Kingsville and Mike was ordained a deacon at Crestview many years ago. Our son and daughter in law also served for a short time in India before going to Burma. Chase was first in Burma alone and then in India with Meagan from which together they returned to Burma. The person with the largest investment of time and effort in India has been Lana Gabriel. She served in the Dominican Republic for extended times as well. Following that work she served on some long stints in Burma and then, as I said, in India. A number of our people have journeyed to Africa and China. One of our young people, Callie Oliver, is serving for a year in China at the present time. Last year, Julie Rogers served a year in Burma. Celina Henry has assisted Chase and Meagan in Burma also. She is Meagan’s sister.
Here in the United States we have done great work in Oregon, Colorado, and Matagorda in Texas. A number of youth work camps in missions were led by Barry Smith. The first one was led by Russell Phillips. I am sure that I have not listed everything, but to quote one of our young people “Crestview is all about missions!” In fact, I have often said that missions is evangelism extended to the ends of the earth. You cannot truly be “People Sharing Jesus” and not do missions.