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Mission field teaches trust in God, Southern grad says
April 17, 2006
By David Roach

Doug Hayes shared a small part of his missionary experiences in a chapel service Feb. 7. Photo by David Merrifield

As Doug Hayes sat in his chair watching television at his home in the Pacific Rim, he began to feel sick. He stood to walk across the room but only made it a few steps before collapsing on the floor.

A 2001 graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a missionary with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Hayes' heart was racing at 160 beats per minute and it looked like he was having a heart attack. The local clinic did not have the resources to treat him, and there was not enough medicine on hand to slow his heart.

Thousands of miles away from his home in east Tennessee, all Hayes could do was trust God.

"I began praying to God," he said. "I said, 'God, since I was very young, I felt that you were calling me to work with the nations and share your message with the peoples of the world. If I die today, that's fine. I'm ready to meet with you. But I really feel that my work on earth is not done yet and that you've called me for that task.'

"So I said, 'God, today sustain me and I'll always be faithful to share your message with the nations.'"

Within hours it was clear that God answered Hayes' prayer. A doctor at the local clinic treated him, allowing Hayes to continue his work among nine unreached Islamic people groups in Southeast Asia.

Hayes said the episode taught him that one of the greatest victories a missionary can experience is to learn how to trust God.

"To live a life for Christ you have to depend upon Him more," he said. "And sometimes it's good to be away from all the securities we have in the States to realize how much we should depend upon Him each and every day."

As Hayes learns to trust God himself, his ministry has helped others trust the Lord too. Hayes works with more than 1.5 million people who have never heard the Gospel in a region where it is illegal to do evangelism. His work includes distributing Gospel tracts, showing movies about Jesus and training local Christians to share their faith.

Despite government opposition, Hayes has seen some men and women become fully devoted followers of Christ.

"Victories come in different forms," he said. "Victories come in seeing people who are already believers, who are afraid of the government getting passion to say, 'If it's going to cost me my life, if it's going to cost me getting thrown in jail, I don't care. I'm going to go and tell the good news of Christ to Islamic people.'"

In the years to come, Hayes hopes to start a church-planting movement in the area and train local Christians to start churches among unreached tribes.

"We really have a passion for one-on-one evangelism and training leaders to do that because when we're gone, we want to have people carry on that passion for those people," he said.

Studying at Southern was ideal preparation for the mission field because of the dual emphasis on theology and practical training, Hayes said.

My study at Southern "was very practical, very hands-on," he said. "You could use it out on the mission field. A lot of things that we discuss and try to implement are also being discussed in our seminary.

"We talk about church planting. We talk about theories of house churching. We talk about watching out for different entrapments. I've found there are a lot of practical teachings that are very applicable to what we are doing out on the mission field."

Students who are currently in seminary should realize that God is using every class and every experience to prepare them for a mission field of their own, he said, noting a mission field can be in the United States or overseas.

"Missions is a lifestyle," he said.

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