There was a celebration reception at the Freeda Harris Baptist Center in eastern Kentucky earlier this month to recognize retiring missionaries Greg & Alice Whitetree and incoming missionaries Richard & Amy Greene.
Richard served as a pastor in Salyersville before being called to come serve as director of the Baptist center in Pike County. He and Amy have a 10 year-old son Alex, who has Down syndrome and has always been an active part of their ministry. It was not uncommon for Alex to accompany Richard when pastoring, as he made visits, took care of things at the church, handed out popsicles or met needs in the community. Coming to Pike County to serve as missionaries at the center will not be any different. Alex will be there serving alongside his parents as they feed the hungry, operate a thrift store, welcome and direct the work of volunteer teams, conduct mobile Bible clubs for kids in the hollers and share Christ.
Something very special happened during the introduction of the Greene family at the reception. After Richard and Amy were introduced, Alex took the mic and said, “my name is Alex and I’m a missionary”. Wow, what a statement of intent and understanding. I was moved by his candor and innocence. Here is a young man that understood anyone can be a missionary.
Many people picture a missionary as a middle-aged man who leaves his job in America to evangelize and plant churches in Africa. But that is a simplistic view. Today, African Christians reach out to Muslims in the Middle East. College students spend their summer teaching English in Asia. A family in America befriends and witnesses to international students. A truck driver responds to those hurting following a disaster and a 10 year-old boy in Appalachia wants to share Jesus with people he meets. All these are missionaries.
Although technically a missionary is someone specifically called by God and sent out by the local church, every Christian has a mission to share the gospel and make disciples. But simply put, a missionary is an ambassador of Christ and every believer is expected to live out our faith and represent Christ as we go.
You don’t have to be formally educated, have years of experience or receive a salary to be a missionary. You just have-to be willing to GO. The Greene’s are beginning to learn the community and meet the people who live there. But I have a feeling it will be Alex who the community knows best because he is so accepting of others and shares an infectious smile with everyone he meets. Thank you Alex, for being a missionary at the Freeda Harris Baptist Center.