A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Many Kentucky missionaries still waiting to be ‘adopted’ into decades-old support program

By Marina Shelton
Kentucky Today

A decades-old program, Adopt-A-Missionary, continues to encourage and uplift Kentucky missionaries, who reported 2,095 professions of faith last year. But many still await adoption, said Teresa Parrett, mission mobilization coordinator for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Adopt-A-Missionary was a program birthed in the early 2000s as “a way for churches to support and serve the missionaries,” Parrett said.

“My role includes coordinating the KY-MSC program (promoting, recruiting, helping with the application process, approving, and encouraging the KY-MSC missionaries) and the Adopt-a-Missionary Program is just one way of doing that.”

“I help the churches to know about the KY-MSC missionaries and ways they can pray for, encourage and support them. Many of our churches are not even aware that we have Kentucky missionaries,” Parrett said.

The Adopt-A-Missionary program has plenty waiting for anyone who is interested in helping and praying.

State missionaries engage those who may never step inside a Kentucky Baptist church. “They reach out to meet physical needs — food, clothing, household items, home repairs, at-risk children and teens, young pregnant women, men and women in prison and coming out of prison, internationals, refugees and others — with the love of Christ,” Parrett said.

When she asks a church, Sunday school class, or family to “adopt” a missionary, Parrett said it involves praying for the missionary and their family, asking for a “wish list” of things for their ministry from which to purchase gifts, writing notes and birthday cards, and being a present encourager and friend.

“Prayer support is the number one request from the missionaries and through this program they are prayed for by their adopted churches, WMU groups, etc. It is such an encouragement to the missionaries just knowing that somebody is thinking of them, praying for them, remembering them and even serving with them is some instances,” she said.

Parrett never dreamed the program that started almost 20 years ago would grow into what it is today. Kentucky missionaries across the state rave about the blessings, prayer and gifts they receive as a result of their “adoption.”

“The adoption is so uplifting and encouraging to receive cards, donated items to the ministry and financial donations. They are supporting me and the ministry through prayer. One lady from the church (Poole Missionary) even volunteers with me at The Answer Center,” said Jeff Burke, KY-MSC missionary at the Kathy J. Strange Answer Center in Henderson.

Nancy Brown, who serves at the same ministry as Burke, had similar praises to share about Adopt-A-Missionary. “The WMU is so kind to us, always willing to help in whatever we need at the ministry. They prays for us, which is most important. They also send gift cards on our birthdays and Christmas and collect needed items for the ministry: towels, washcloths, sheets, etc.”

But the blessings from the program are not reserved for the missionaries alone. Adopting a missionary is a blessing to each church and group involved, reminded Faye Melton, a member of the WMU group that adopted Burke and Brown.

“We see people who have dedicated themselves to the Lord and we can be a part of their ministry. It is wonderful for our WMU ladies to have hands-on ministry with missionaries and to know real, in-person missionaries, not just missionaries that we read about in black and white in our Mosaic,” Melton said.

Stacey Burton, a KY-MSC missionary at the Lake Cumberland Baptist Association PM59 Ministries in Somerset, said, “How do you make a missionary feel loved? You give her items off her wish list when she comes to speak.”

“Calvary Baptist Church in London, Ky., has blessed me beyond measure from day one of adopting me as their missionary. I have received cards, gifts, and now items for my ministry, but, more importantly, I have made new friends and look forward to serving together,” Burton said.

“We are so happy that we were matched with Stacey as our adopted missionary,” said Cathy Jones, a member of Calvary Baptist who adopted Burton. “She is very dedicated to each of her ministries. I had the opportunity to be involved with one of her ministries last year. I am thoroughly impressed with her compassionate and servant heart for all people, regardless of circumstances, lifestyle, social status, or race.”

Of the 76 missionary families in Kentucky, 19 have been adopted so far. Parrett challenged Kentucky Baptists to be one of the 57 more to ensure each missionary is adopted.

 “If your church has not adopted a missionary, please consider it. I have many missionary friends who would love to have your prayer support,” Burton said.

Learn more about Adopt-A-Missionary at kybaptist.org/adoptmissionary or by contacting Teresa Parrett at teresa.parrett@kybaptist.org.

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