A Missionary Kid
Paul joked that he has been in YWAM for 41 years; spoiler, he is 41 years old. Growing up a missionary kid in Tyler, Texas he always had a relationship with Jesus. When he was 1 ½ years old he was smuggling Bibles into a closed nation! At 9 years old he went on a King’s Kids missions trip traveling the U.S. and led a little boy to the Lord. When he returned home and told his testimony, his 9 year old self pointed his finger at the crowd and full of gusto said, “and if we kids can do it, you can too!” The adults stood up and cheered. This experience, along with many others marked Paul, fanning into flame his passion for the gospel and to see others know God.
Onward To Madison!
Right after high school, at 17 years old, he trekked up to Madison, Wisconsin along with two of his friends (fellow missionary kids) for his DTS. He initially planned to complete the first half of DTS to make his parents proud and then move on to college. However, the Lord had other plans.
One day, about the fifth week of the lecture phase, they watched a video from YWAM’s founder Loren Cunningham about relinquishing your rights. In the video Loren told a story of an unreached tribe that missionaries went to share the gospel with. The whole tribe gave their lives to God! The power of the gospel was transformational in their community. One day, the tribal leader asked a missionary, “This is so life changing for us! But what about our ancestors? Where were the missionaries then?” Loren went on to explain, so many people are waiting for the call of God to be a missionary, but God has already given us that call! The question is not if you are called to go, but if you are called to stay. God has already provided the writing on the wall. The question is, will you go?
Paul’s heart was going crazy as he knew the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to him. Right then and there he laid down his dream of going to college and followed the Lord into missions.
Over the next 17 years he was a part of many different YWAM ministries. Through it all God continued to lead him into more training. A pattern emerged of work, pause, get trained, repeat. Finally, at the age of 34 Paul was able to graduate with a Masters in Leadership from YWAM’s University of the Nations. All of the graduates were lining up to walk down the aisle and receive their degree. The cello was playing, gentle gusts of wind blew in from the sea, and a big crowd sat in their seats awaiting the ceremony.While he was waiting to walk down the aisle, the Lord spoke. He said, “Remember Paul when you were 17? You gave up your dream to go to college in order to follow me. I never forgot your dream Paul. 17 years later I have fulfilled the desire of your heart and you are now graduating from college.” Paul had forgotten the dream he had had at 17 years old, but God had not. When Paul chose to follow God, God chose to honor him.
Super Hero Orphans
Now, many years later Paul is still in missions and following the Lord wholeheartedly. Of all the hats he has worn throughout his time, the one he is most passionate about it working with children at risk. Shortly after he got married he and his new bride took their first trip to India. While there they visited an orphanage that changed his life. After his first encounter with those sweet children he began to take teams back to that same orphanage year after year. They would play games, tell stories, and give lots and lots of hugs.
“Many nights we’d sit in a big group and make up stories. The kids in the group were the superheroes in the story and they’d tell me what super powers they had. Eventually by the end of the night a handful of them would fall asleep. I’d gently pick them up and one by one bring them to bed. When I’d come back, all of the kids would be ‘asleep’. They so craved a parental touch. All they wanted was to be loved. Each and every one of them stole my heart.
A Dream for Family
“My dream is, where there’s an absence of family, let’s all move in the direction of family. Loving someone for a day could be the best day of their life. I’m constantly thinking, how do I inspire others to step into that gap where family is missing for these children?” One idea Paul had to do this was to give the children in the Indian orphanage their own grandmas. When he was young his grandma had always sent him and his siblings Christmas presents in the mail. They’d get the box of presents, put them under their tree, and eagerly await Christmas morning.
Paul took this idea to his grandmother’s women’s group, who were all 70 years old or above. He brought pictures of the children with their background story. Each of the “grandmas” adopted a kid to correspond with and give presents to. Paul and his team would then bring the presents to India, throw a party, and have them write a letter back to their Texas Grandma. It turned out to be life giving for both parties. These women were realizing just how powerful their lives could be and these children were learning that they could be loved.
“That whole season was really special”, Paul recounted. “I’m still connected with many of the children through Facebook. At the end of one of our visits, one of the children wrote me a letter. They said, ‘Come back to India soon because you are like our father.’
Continuing To Dream
“My favorite part about being in missions is fulfilling the dreams of God. He loves every person so much yet they don’t know Him. He is pursuing them, but they haven’t recognized it. My favorite part is being a part of someone coming to know Him. I also love inspiring other people on that same journey. God has dreams for your life and this world. His dreams are bigger than our own. Let’s launch into this journey!”
“Of all of the dreams on God’s heart, the one that stirs the most in me is that every child would know the joy of a loving family.”
Video from “Spoil the Kids” – the parties in India inspired by Paul’s grandma.