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Crossing the Missions Border


A missions trip to Mexico leaves a Mississippi pastor's wife forever changed.


Crossing the Missions Border

by Shirley Dykes


I grew up in a home where missionaries often visited and shared their work, so I learned early in life to love and support missions. As the wife of a pastor with a passion for missions, it has been a wonderful privilege to meet many missionaries and host them in our home. I found a role in the work by praying for missionaries and supporting them financially, but I will never forget the time a few years ago when missions became very real in my life.

My husband and I were blessed to accompany Home Missions Hispanic Director Rick Bowling on a mission trip to Mexico. The experience changed how I both perceive and pray for missions. We began our time in Mexico by worshiping with an established church. The church filled from front to back (certainly unusual in American churches), and they prayed for a half-hour before the service began. They stood and enthusiastically sang hymns of praise for more than an hour. We were able to sing along to many of the songs that were familiar to us. That wonderful spirit-filled service prepared us for the days and work ahead.

We visited a small, poor village where we encountered wonderful people hungry to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we gathered for services each evening, the little, open-air church filled with people who came to hear the preaching of the Word. The Holy Spirit spoke to hearts, and the altar filled with people who accepted Christ as Savior. Tears flowed from their eyes and praise flowed from their lips.

During the days, we went house-to-house to share the gospel and pray for the sick in the village and surrounding area. The warmth of these dear people deeply affected us as they opened their homes to us and begged us to come in. Their graciousness and hospitality were inspiring.

Even though we could not speak the language, we quickly realized that the Holy Spirit has no language barriers. We simply prayed while those who could speak the language shared the gospel and the Holy Spirit did the work in their hearts. It was such a blessing to be there and to be part of the work. It was refreshing to see people anxious to hear and receive the gospel.

That experience in a poor village in Mexico left me with an image I do not think will ever grow dim. God strongly reaffirmed the importance of the Great Commission in my heart. Each day, when I pray for our missionaries, a vivid picture of that little village and those precious people springs to mind, and I thank God for allowing me this time on the mission field.

As a result of my experience, I see more clearly the need to train young men who can preach the gospel effectively without language barriers and cultural differences. Our denomination is blessed to have the Gwen Hendrix Free Will Baptist Institute to train young men and women to reach not only the Hispanics in the United States, but also those in their homelands as well.

I am thankful for leaders such as Rick Bowling, and I understand and appreciate the endless hours he puts in—not for the praise of men—but because of a burden for the souls of the Hispanic people. I am thankful for Free Will Baptists in my state and beyond who help support this ministry of reaching the Spanish-speaking world for Christ. May we always remember the Great Commission and never tire of getting the gospel to the lost.

About the Writer: Shirley Dykes and her husband currently minister in Mississippi. To learn more about the work of Free Will Baptist Home Missions in Mexico, visit



©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists