I grew up in a Christian home, and my dad is a pastor. When I was three, my mom showed me how to go to Heaven, and I prayed to trust in Jesus for Heaven. I can remember going out soul winning and inviting people to church on a weekly basis with my dad from a young age.
When I was 15, I went with my dad to a pastors’ conference. During a Wednesday evening service on March 22, 2006, I surrendered to go into full-time ministry. I surrendered to do whatever the Lord wanted me to do with my life. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I decided to be yielded to whatever He wanted me to do. In the fall of that same year, the Christian school I went to was having a missions conference. The Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart at the conference, and I surrendered to go to the mission field.
I started at Hyles-Anderson College in the fall of 2010 and finished with a missions degree in 2014. In the first week of my sophomore year, Pastor Rick Finley came and preached a salvation message. I had been struggling with doubts about my salvation. That night I trusted in Christ and got the assurance of my salvation on September 1, 2011.
I met Christa the first week of college on a bus route. We dated throughout our college time, and in December of my senior year, we were married. Ethan was born the following October, and Evan Was born in August of 2016.
After getting counsel, I decided not to go right into deputation from college. I did an internship at First Baptist Church with FBMI and Keith Cowling, which I completed in May of 2017. As I was nearing the completion of the internship, I started praying about where we should go as missionaries. The Lord directed my heart specifically to the need in Uruguay. After my family took a three-week trip there in the fall of 2017, the Lord’s leading was confirmed in our hearts.
I grew up in a Christian home. I am the third of seven children. I was the first child born after my parents accepted Christ as their personal Saviour. For that, I am named after their faith in Christ—Christa Faith. I was three when I first heard the Gospel. Honestly I don’t remember much except that when my father came home from work that day, I ran up to him and jumped in his arms saying, “Daddy! I got saved today!” I don’t remember praying or any of the other details, although my mom does, as she was there.
I do know I became a soul winner at the age of five, when my mom would take me out on the streets and hand out tracts and give the Gospel clearly to other people. My parents had our whole family become part of the Bus Ministry; my father faithfully drove the bus to pick kids up for church.
However, at the age of eleven, our lives changed drastically. My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease with no cure. My mom was told that soon she wouldn’t be able to operate as a normal person and would most likely be put in a nursing home, as the demands of life would be too much to handle, especially with little kids in the house. My siblings and I no longer could be homeschooled, as every little thing could trigger an attack and leave her bedridden. We were put into a new school, where we had to learn a new way to live and act. As hard as that was, being put into a place where I wasn’t completely liked or accepted was harder still. It was a lot to put on the mind of a young eleven-year-old girl.
I also became a teacher for our Bus Ministry, as the teacher I was helping came down with cancer. Our program director on our bus left, and my father said it was now my job. At eleven, I was now in charge of the five-year-old department and a program director for our bus! Not only had my life changed in my family and my schooling, but now I was teaching and leading others! I remember crying at night after tough days and asking God if He really cared. I struggled with wondering if God really cared and if He was real, then why wasn’t He helping me?
I began to doubt everything I was taught. I wouldn’t say it out loud to anyone, as I was someone people were starting to see as a leader. It became something I would internally debate and question . . . until one Wednesday evening service. My pastor started preaching a Bible study on the parable of the ten virgins. Five were ready when the bridegroom came, and five were not. I don’t remember anything else during that sermon except that all of my doubts were suddenly exposed. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit saying, “Are you ready? If Jesus came right now, would you be accepted?” As soon as the invitation time came, I went to my mother and told her I needed to be saved. Taking her Bible, she once again gave me the Gospel, and I settled my salvation!
I can’t say all of our problems disappeared. In fact, I was soon given even more responsibilities, and it was several years later before we could find out what actually triggered my mother’s MS attacks. I can’t say life was easy, but I can say I saw God work so many miracles. God became so very real to me personally. Ministry and church work became my desire. I knew God wanted me to give my life to serve Him. I knew He would one day send me away to another country as a missionary. Everything became focusing on how I could one day serve in a different field, a different country. It is something I have continued all these years later, and it’s my greatest honor to serve such a wonderful God!
In January, the hottest month of the year here, the church we are helping in normally has their Vacation Bible School. This year, they added a winter VBS during the time when the children have two weeks of vacation in July. I printed up some invitations, and we invited many new children to come. The theme was on the Bible, so the kids were taught songs about the Bible and verse songs. After the lesson, the children had the opportunity to play various games. We ended up having a good number of visitors, and on the last day of VBS, there were 59 in attendance. The teens helped with the games on that day as well. It was exciting to see them getting involved! We praise the Lord for the 36 professions of faith in total!
If you’ve been going soul winning for any length of time, you’ll probably agree that we never can tell who will trust Christ or not. We just need to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. In July, I had the opportunity to witness to a number of men who had a wide variety of beliefs. I witnessed to Gabriel and Facundo, who said they were atheists. I talked to a university student, who said he was spiritual but not religious (a phrase we hear very often here). He said, “There has to be something out there. It just doesn’t seem possible that all this just happened!” I talked to Manuel, Diego, and Brian, who all believed in God and the Bible. I witnessed to several others as well whose names I didn’t get. Manuel, who is 24, actually came to church in July, but he isn’t saved yet. Manuel’s older brother Diego saw me when we visited his house. I talked with him for a while, and he gladly accepted Christ as His Saviour! Also, our six-year-old son Evan told my wife Christa that he wanted to be baptized. To which she replied, “You have to be saved before you can do that.” She then showed him how to be saved, and he also sweetly accepted Christ as His Saviour!
Update on Our Permanent Residency
Currently, we have temporary residency status, which expires this November. A month after we arrived on the field, we started the process of applying for permanent residency. We have had a lot of little issues with the paperwork. In July, they asked me to present the boys’ updated passports since they expired during the residency application process. After I did that, I was getting ready to ask how much longer it might take to get our permanent residency, when I was told that we should hear very soon when we can come and sign the paperwork for permanent residency! Please pray that we will not have any other issues with this.
• Visitors and 36 professions of faith in VBS!
• Open doors to present the Gospel!
• Our son Evan’s salvation!
• Salvation of Gabriel, Facundo, Diego, and Manuel
• Our Spanish
• No more problems with our residency
• The Lord’s leading as we are looking where to plant our first church
Thank you for continuing to give and pray! We love you all so much.
Your missionaries to Uruguay,
Tim, Christa, Ethan, Evan, Emmalynn, and Elizabeth Simmons
The children who earned prizes at Vacation Bible School!
Walking to church
The first night of Winter Vacation Bible School!
One of several areas we are praying about where to start a church