SALISBURY, Md.—Jerry Wade, retired executive pastor of SonRise Church, Salisbury, and his wife, Misty, are preparing for long-term mission service in Guatemala. They will be commissioned at SonRise Church on Sunday, July 30.
“Our story begins a few years ago,” Jerry said. “God began to impress on my heart and on Misty’s, that He had different plans in store for us. After 23 years of pastoral ministry, and Misty serving as a pastor’s wife, He wanted to prepare us for something different. He led us to Revelation 3:8, “…Look! I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it…” When we began to pray, asking, ‘God, what do you have in store for us,’ the only answer we got was to go learn Spanish!” Wade said. The couple obediently began taking all the Spanish classes offered at the local community college.
Jerry said he and Misty thought maybe God would open a door to minister in a border state, working with migrants coming from Central America. They sent resumes to state conventions and had some follow-up conversations, but nothing materialized.
What did open up, however, was an opportunity with Hope of Life International. The organization, Jerry explained, ministers to the poorest people in Central America. SonRise church members Mike and Donna Burr had been connected with the ministry for 20 years and encouraged Jerry and Misty to consider that mission.
“At Mike and Donna’s urging, we went on a vision trip in March and spent a lot of time with the leadership. “The poverty in the villages is just bone crushing,” Jerry said. But they were impressed with the ministry’s resources and strategies. “We were exposed to a wide breadth of their ministries. Their (Hope of Life International) mission statement is, ‘Saving Lives,’” Jerry said. That’s referring to ministering to dire physical and emotional needs but also through that, sharing Jesus Christ. That ‘lit us up,’ and we came back in March believing this is where God is calling us,” Jerry said.
On August 5, the couple will travel to Antigua for two months. They’ll participate in a four-week intense immersion study of the language. “We’ll be with a Spanish family in their home, taking all of our meals with them. For five days a week, we’ll be in classes four hours a day—one on one. I’ll have a teacher and Misty will have a different teacher.”
The couple will then transfer to the Hope of Life International campus in Zapaca, just four hours east of the capital city of Guatemala in the direction of Honduras and El Salvadore. “In Zacapa they have so many ministries,” Jerry shared excitedly. “There’s a school for children, for pastors, a hospital for children and an orphanage, plus a special needs orphanage, a residence for elderly people who otherwise would be homeless, and an extensive feeding ministry.”
There’s also a ministry for “Total Village Transformation (TVT),” allowing churches to partner and resource villages. SonRise Church has partnered with a village called San Felipe. Jerry said it’s an impoverished village without fresh water. SonRise raised $15,000 for a well that will be dug in August and a team from the church will arrive in the village in September to dedicate the well.
Jerry and Misty will help oversee that project. They’ll also help to facilitate other mission teams from SonRise as they continue to minister, but overall that’s just a part of Jerry and Misty’s future ministry.
In January, they will begin serving as chaplains to the entire Hope of Life International staff and Misty will teach English as a Second Language to the administrative staff. Eventually, Jerry said, the couple wants to become deeply involved in meeting the needs of the Guatemalan people.
They’ll be spending 9 to 10 months out of the year in Guatemala. While this is somewhat new to Jerry, it’s not to Misty. She served as a missionary to Japan before the couple met and married. But it’s an adventure they’re both excited to embark upon together.
“We knew in our spirits as we had an eye on our retirement years that after spending all this time in pastoral ministry…and the leadership roles we’ve had, that we would never be satisfied to do the classic American thing of taking our hands off the plow and chasing a white ball around the golf course.
“We were eager to stay involved in ministry and this is the door God has opened for us,” Jerry said. “This is our retirement program and we plan to do that until the Lord calls us home.”