By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
WILMINGTON, Del.—Mitch Dowell has four goals as he begins a dual role in 2012, continuing in his position as executive director of Embrace Wilmington and assuming the role of Delaware Baptist Association Director of Missions/Church Planter Catalyst.
He wants to get to know pastors, leaders and their churches, to help declining churches to begin a process to grow and become healthy and to redefine their perceptions about what an association is and why it’s important, and to encourage and assist Delaware churches to partner together to plant new churches throughout the region.
Embrace Wilmington will end in December 2012. Dowell is happy with God’s blessings in that area, seeing churches partner with each other, their communities, planting churches and growing. He’s excited at the prospect of using his experience to partner and minister with churches throughout “The First State.”
Dowell and his wife, Rosetta, plan to share lunch or dinner with association pastors and staff to build friendships and to hear about their visions, goals, struggles and achievements, and their expectations of Dowell as their director of missions.
“I want to know how best to serve them through the mission to which God has called me,” he said.
“I want to make sure there is a clear understanding between me and leadership as to what ‘healthy’ means. Then I can develop a strategy to help, using the association, convention and all the resources available to get it done.”
Dowell said he’s happy when he sees positive movement forward. “Some of our churches may be in a rut. Someone defined a rut as a grave with both ends kicked out. There is no movement in a grave. So if I can help a church move from a minus 10 to a minus eight, that’s good. Those are positive steps forward. I may not be around to see them move to a plus one, and I’m okay with that as long as they are moving,” he said.
He also wants to determine how pastors define association and help them understand that they are part of the association.
“I’ve heard pastors make the statement, ‘What has the association done for my church?’ In their mind, they see that as a valid question. The association is made up of 28 churches. That’s the association!” Dowell stressed.
“I want to serve all 28 of these churches by bringing all available resources to enable them to accomplish their God-given mission,” he said. “I want them to see the importance of the association as a body of churches with everyone having a role to play. We depend on churches giving to the Cooperative Program so that we can provide needed resources to every church, large or small. We’ve really got to get in their minds – it’s not “What has the association done for me? But what is the association (the churches) doing to further the Gospel and build the kingdom of God?”
Dowell continued, “There is no hierarchy, no authority but God. The way I see it, the Director of Missions does not sit at a head table as the one in charge, but he serves on his knees with a towel and basin. I would never attempt to tell shepherds how to do what God has called them to do, but I want to simply to come alongside to assist and encourage them as they do it.”
Dowell is thankful that God has prepared him well for his new role. He has served in many ministry capacities including pastoring churches in Illinois and in West Germany. He served with the Illinois Baptist Convention as an evangelism consultant, and later brought his urban ministry experience to the team serving with the first North American Mission Board Strategic Focus City in Chicago and later, served as a missions evangelism consultant for the BCM/D, associate director of missions of the Baltimore Association and associate executive director of Embrace Baltimore.
For more information about Delaware Association see http://www.delawarebaptist.com.
The word ‘saved’ dominant part of Dowell’s journey
Mitch Dowell grew up in North Wilkesboro, N.C., attending a Catholic church. “I was a really bad Catholic. Everything was in Latin and I was clueless,” he said with a chuckle.
As a teenager, Dowell became less interested in church and more interested in girls and cars. At one point, when he was 16, while he and a friend observed an old mechanic working on the friend’s car, the man asked the boys if they were saved. Dowell was confused.
“My friend pulled me to the side and informed me that this man and family were ‘religious fanatics.’” Dowell laughed.
He heard the word “saved” again five years later. He married his high school sweetheart Rosetta when she was 16 and he was drafted shortly after that. He spent the next 25 years in the U.S. Cavalry as an Armored Reconnaissance Intelligence Specialist. He retired in 1994 as a Sergeant Major. During his military service he received numerous military awards including the Bronze Star Metal for valor during service in the first Iraq war.
All wasn’t well, however, on the home front. Their marriage of less than two years had serious issues that threatened to break the couple apart. Dowell thought all was lost, but God by His grace used that turbulent time to Rosetta draw to Himself.
“God radically transformed my wife, and through her testimony, I was also drawn to the Lord.” At one point he asked her what changed and Rosetta replied, “I got saved.” There was that word “saved” again.
After hearing the Gospel at a revival, Mitch, at the age of 21, finally understood what the old man and Rosetta meant by the term “saved.” On the last night of the revival, Mitch confessed Christ as Lord and Savior. He and Rosetta were later baptized together at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. That marked the beginning of a new love relationship between them and with the Lord Jesus Christ. This month, Mitch and Rosetta will celebrate 43 years of marriage.