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September 2017

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The Silent Missionaries

By Tim Awtrey


A group of missionaries operate in the shadows. Always working, they are rarely seen. They are the silent missionaries. They are our children. 

Our children don’t like to draw attention to themselves, yet they are a vital part of the ministry in Bulgaria. They are our secret weapons.

Yanna and Alex have been extremely important to the work in Bulgaria. I remember when Yanna first began school in Svishtov. Through her school studies, we immediately began to meet many new people in the community. Her studies eventually led to the opportunity for me to teach English in that school, expanding our area of influence for the gospel.

We would never have had the chance to witness to many people in the community if it wasn’t for Yanna. And, yet, it was an incredible challenge and sacrifice for her. You can imagine the difficulties she faced—foreign language, new school, new culture, etc. We often talk about the challenges missionary parents face in adapting to a new mission field. However, our children are confronted with these same difficulties, often to an even greater extent. Yanna has grown up to be a beautiful and wonderful young lady, and much of the success we now see is a direct result of her influence in Bulgaria.

When Alex was young, Lydia took him to the park to play. As Alex played with the other children, Lydia talked with the mothers watching. Alex’s playtime in the park provided a great chance to meet many new people. As Alex has grown, he has served as construction worker, tour guide, and translator for our ministry and for people who travel to Bulgaria on mission trips.

A few years ago, Alex met another boy at a summer camp, and they became friends. Through their friendship the boy’s parents and their friends began to attend church. As a result of Alex’s friendship, Josh Provow is now leading a Bible study with this group. We hope, one day, the Bible study group will become a new church plant. All this came about because of Alex’s friendship with another boy. How many 14-year-olds do you know who can put “helping plant two new churches” on their resumé?

And yet, as I write this, we are dragging Alex with us all over the country while we raise support. He has missed out on countless youth activities, birthday parties, and friendships because of his mission work.

I am sure all our missionary families can give you hundreds of examples of ways their children silently, but significantly, contribute to their missionary work.

They are an integral part of our mission work—often in the shadows, rarely seen, and seldom acknowledged. They are our silent missionaries. They are our children.


About the Writer: Tim Awtrey and his family are pioneering a Free Will Baptist church planting movement in Bulgaria. The first phase includes establishing a healthy Free Will Baptist church in Svishtov to serve as a model for future church plants throughout the country. The Awtreys will return to Bulgaria in September, leaving Yanna behind to attend college. Learn more:



©2017 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists