The commissioning service, presided over by Rev. Dr. Reginald Mills, the IM board of directors’ president, celebrated God’s calling of the Stantons to serve at Ricks Institute, a K-12 boarding school in Liberia, West Africa in partnership with the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention. The school’s 135 staff members serve 625 on-campus students.
The Stantons’ commissioning was the culmination of a two-year process of discernment and preparation that began when Larry, a retired plant maintenance engineer for the Illinois Department of Corrections, saw a career opportunity for a maintenance supervisor at Ricks Institute listed on the IM website. He said, “It was like I was reading my own job description.” Larry also saw that the Ricks Institute was requesting a missionary to teach English, a similarly fitting opportunity for Becky, a language arts teacher in the Murphysboro School District.
Charles Jones, IM’s area director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East, expressed great delight that the Stantons were being sent by IM to serve in his home nation and at the school that holds much significance for him: “It is a challenge for me to find the appropriate words to describe how I feel when I reflect on the fact that I am a part of sending Larry and Becky to Ricks Institute, the place where I accepted Jesus Christ and was baptized, from which I graduated, where I met and married my wife and where I served in my first job after graduating from seminary! I am in awe of God’s leading and blessing!”
Rev. John Pitchford, pastor of Pate Chapel, expressed the church’s deep appreciation for the Stantons. As a small church, the congregation is honored to be able to send two of their own to serve as missionaries and, through them, have the opportunity to be engaged in God’s global mission.
The couple stated: “We stood before our church, family, friends and partners and reaffirmed our faith in Jesus Christ and our willingness to serve him in Liberia, to worship with our national partners there, to pursue our spiritual growth and nourishment while on the field and to fulfill the duties that IM has asked us to do. But we were told over and over that we are capable ONLY with God’s help. And our pastor, friends and family vowed to come along side us, to help us fulfill this calling.”
The Stantons, along with their three young daughters, Ruth, Maggie and Brandy, plan to depart for Liberia later this spring. In his position as maintenance supervisor at Ricks Institute, Larry will oversee upkeep of the buildings and grounds on the campus. Becky will teach English in the elementary division and conduct weekly Bible studies on the campus.
Individuals and churches may learn more about the Stantons and their ministry in Liberia, read their journals and discover opportunities to participate in their ministry as part of their Mission Partnership Network (MPN) on the IM website: http://www.internationalministries.org/. Click on “PEOPLE,” then select “Stanton.” You can find the Stantons on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hopingliberia
American Baptist International Ministries is celebrating 200 years of ministry in 2014. Organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America, it began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationship with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.