Glen Rose native Johnny McGregor answers to a higher calling and travels the world spreading the word of God.
“Evangelism is the purpose,” McGregor said. “2003 was the first trip I’ve been on and I’ve been on eight international trips.”
He has been to Jamaica and the Bahamas, twice to Thailand, Serbia, Sierra Leon, China and most recently to Azerbaijan - a small country about the size of Maine situated between Russia, Iran and the Caspian Sea.
“I don’t think everyone is called to go far away,” McGregor said. “Some are called to stay local. But for some reason I feel called to go to these places.”
Each country and each trip offered unique twists and opportunities, McGregor said.
“Most of the time we, Americans, have to be careful with the water,” McGregor said. “The food is always amazing. You never know how that’s going to turn out.”
He recalled that his trip to Sierra Leon in Africa consisted of rice based diet until their hosts brought out a “special treat.”
“It was rhinoceros,” McGregor said. “But I didn’t know what it was until I ate it.”
He said accommodations such as restrooms and showers can also present unique situations.
“But it’s really amazing how quickly God helps you adjust,” McGregor said.
But at the heart of each trip, there is serious work to be done. McGregor said the groups focus on evangelism and a good interpreter is key to their mission.
“There’s a lot of evangelism tools, but there’s something about talking to someone else about Christ and you see the illumination of Him to you through them,” McGregor said. “God does the work.”
While evangelism is the main goal of the two-week mission trips, McGregor said they also worked in orphanages, refurbished churches and taught in schools.
“I can stand in a classroom in Thailand with 50 to 60 students and say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ but I can’t do that here,” McGregor, a former science teacher and principal, said.
He had a special draw to the people of Thailand and has traveled to the country twice. He said they seemed the most touched by the Gospel, McGregor added each community responds to the Word in their own way.
“In Africa, people are really hungry to hear the Gospel,” McGregor said. “In other areas, the culture is so ingrained and acceptance can be difficult.”
His last trip was in April to Azerbaijan, whose population is 95 percent Muslim. He said there was “an awareness for a need of awareness” among the 12 missionaries.
“There are missionaries who go away and don’t come home; I’m aware of that, but you don’t dwell on it,” McGregor said. “It’s amazing how God’s grace takes care of everything.”
McGregor is a member of First Baptist Church in Glen Rose and said the support he receives from his church family helps when he is far from home.
“We have a mission minded church,” McGregor said. “And they pray. And it’s great to know that’s here when you are over there.”
But most of his concern isn’t for his own well being.
“It wasn’t so much for us, but for the people you left behind,” McGregor said. “Conditions and circumstances are easy to handle for a couple of weeks. Then you’re home to a comfortable chair and easy food. They live there.”
McGregor’s last three mission trips have been coordinated through the International Commission out of Lewisville and founded by another Glen Rose native, Ben Mieth.
Mieth moved from Glen Rose in the 1960s and worked as a cotton farmer in West Texas before going on his first mission trip to Japan in 1970.
“I always felt called to minister to Latin Americans, but never really felt called to start an organization,” Mieth said.
But he soon realized the Lord had a plan in mind. He started the International Commission in 1971, and although he is retired now, he is preparing for another trip to Brazil in July with the Paluxy Baptist Association and 30 other American churches.
“I’ll be 76 by then, and it’s just as exciting as it was in ‘71,” Mieth said.
Anyone interested in more information is invited to attend a celebration on May 8 at the Pecan Plantation Club House in Granbury at 6:30 p.m.
McGregor also encourages anyone interested in missionary opportunities to visit with their pastor.