Looking Back Part I: The Making of a Team

This month Team Honduras celebrates an anniversary of service on the mission field. As we give thanks to the Lord for all that He has done, I have been sentimentally recalling the exciting journey we embarked on just five short years ago. I know that some of my readers are missionaries (who can relate to the story I will tell), some missionary candidates (who may learn from our experiences), and some supporters back home (who may be interested in the ins and outs of our journey to arrive on the field). Whatever category you may fall into, I pray that you will rejoice with us in how the Lord brought our team together and prepared us for the journey ahead.

Matt Goins, Dallita Clay, Christine Tippett, and Robbie Ellis (1999)

Robbie Ellis and Matt Goins became friends as freshmen at Pensacola Christian College, due to common interests in worldwide missions and Kentucky basketball. Then at Mission Prayer Band one Monday evening, they were challenged by a missionary named Brian Burkholder to pray about working as a team instead of "going solo." He cited many advantages such as accountability and encouragement. The Lord began to work in both of their hearts about forming a missions team; they began to pray for one Central American country each week. When they began seriously dating their future wives, Dallita and me, we joined in prayer and study of various countries.

The Lord used several different people and situations to lead us to Honduras. Robbie had a roommate from Honduras, who continually spoke of the need in his country. I had a close friend from Honduras, and I spent two weeks at her home one summer, teaching in a Christian school. Matt and Dallita were asked by their pastor to pray about going to Honduras, having been made aware of a need there by a Honduran he had met. It seemed that God kept bringing this small Central American country to our hearts in a variety of ways.

The Ellis and Goins Families

The Goinses graduated and were married in 2000; they then joined the staff at West Florida Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, where Matt taught sixth grade and Dallita assisted in a kindergarten class.

Robbie and I graduated in 2001, married, and joined the staff at Beacon Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, where I had grown up. He taught third grade and I taught middle and high school English. Both families also served in various ministries at our home churches: teaching a children's class, working on a bus route, attending soul-winning visitation. Yes, we were in transition; we would not arrive on the mission field for a couple more years. But that was no excuse not to serve. We needed to train and learn from these two great churches before we arrived on the field. He who is not willing to serve at home will certainly not serve abroad. Ministry is not location; it's a lifestyle.

Saying goodbye to some of my former English students just before we headed to the field

Robbie and I met with Pastor Tim Rabon of our home church about our desire to be sent from Beacon Baptist Church to the Honduran mission field. A few months later, we prepared a presentation which we nervously presented to the Deacon Board.

Robbie and I with Pastor and Mrs. Rabon shortly before leaving for Honduras

Once we had Pastor and the board's blessing, we began contacting churches to schedule meetings. Also during this time, Robbie and Matt flew to Honduras to conduct a survey trip to help them decide where to plant the first church. I continued to teach English at RCA; Robbie worked part-time at the NC Credit Union. On the weekends we traveled to churches to present our work and hopefully be taken on for support. We slept little and logged many miles on our Ford Contour, but the Lord blessed and we were able to raise our support in just nine months.

At a missions conference in Las Vegas with the Pattersons, missionaries to Mexico

A third-grade Christian school class (RCA, Mr. Barker) gave us a going away shower of many gifts, such as luggage and our first digital camera.

Meanwhile, Matt, Dallita, and their infant son Joash had raised their support as BIMI missionaries and had headed to a year of language school in Costa Rica, where their second son Jadon was born.

Having had some previous Spanish classes, Robbie and I opted for a two-month intensive course; we joined Matt and Dallita in Costa Rica in August of 2004. The men bussed up to Honduras to conduct one last survey trip before the final semester of language school. They hit ten cities in fourteen days, talking with missionaries and national pastors to find out where the biggest need for a fundamental church was.

As soon as they returned, we plunged back into study.

My classmates and teacher at language school in San Jose

Shortly before our departure, we took our first Staff Retreat, traveling to a beautiful resort at the base of a live volcano, Arenal. Here we decided on the organization of the team (Robbie would function as the team leader) and the details of the first church plant.

The active volcano at Arenal, and the cabin where we met to plan our first-year and five-year goals.

We finished our Spanish training and arrived on the field within a few weeks of each other, Matt and Dallita just before Christmas and Robbie and I in the second week of January. Our hearts were filled with excitement, nervousness, and even some apprehension; but were were eagerly anticipating what the Lord could do through our ministry. We could never have dreamed all that lay ahead...

Be sure to check back next week to hear about one of the most exciting times in our lives--our first few months on the field!
3 Responses
  1. Ricky Says:

    I learned a few new things and I re-learned some other things from your testimony. My own study this morning was on how God leads each one of us as a Shepherd.

  2. Robyn K. Says:

    Excellent blog today. I really enjoyed it. I can just sense your excitement through it. It's so refreshing to atleast hear from a missionary couple that yes they're nervous. Some of the missionaries seem so together all the time and I always wonder about that. Would I have what it takes? My husband is an associate pastor at a growing church near Atlantic Beach but deep down I think we're both starting to want more out of our walk with the Lord. I can't wait for your next blog. Keep it coming. It is such an encouragement to me as I care for our 4 children at home. Praying for you.

  3. Kathy Says:

    As I look back at you and the journey, two things jump out at me. Your growth and your beauty. The changes God has made in both are evident (externally and internally.) You shine like your Daystar!

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