Faith Academy families on mission to Honduras

Bridget Slyker reads to Honduran children during a summer mission.

 

Special to the Highlander

Though Richard and Bridget Slyker — along with their children Carter, Susannah, and Will — are less than six weeks away from beginning a two-year minimum commitment to live as missionaries in Honduras, their journey actually began more than 15 years ago.

During Bridget’s college years, she studied abroad in the colonial city of Guanajuanto in the interior of Mexico. That experience ignited a passion she would carry with her from that point on. She was drawn to the culture, language, and people, compelling her to study and learn more. Over the next several years, she returned many more times, staying with a Mexican family during each visit. However, as her life changed and she took on new responsibilities, she began to fear that her adventurous way of life might be coming to an end.

Bridget recalls being told right before she got married that she would never use Spanish nor have any other cross-cultural experiences again. She accepted those comments as fact and put her passion on a back burner, knowing the passion was not shared by her husband. From that point on, she focused all of her attention on becoming a great wife and mother. More than 15 years later, however, as Bridget was growing in her faith and pursuing God’s plans over her own, God began to slowly rekindle her love for foreign cultures, and Bridget felt a strong call to become a missionary. She kept a journal and pondered this in her heart as she waited on God’s timing and plan to be revealed.

Over the years, Richard supported Bridget’s fascination with the other cultures but now admits that he initially had a hard time identifying with it. While digging deep into a study on discipleship and seeking mentorship relationships with other Christian men, God began to open Richard's heart. To his own surprise, he confidently accepted the invitation of a friend to join him on a short term trip to Guatemala in early 2015. Though this first trip was different than he expected, six months later he joined another group of friends for a second trip back to Guatemala. It was that trip that changed everything.

Bridget recalls her shock at him returning home and announcing that he could see their family serving as missionaries in Latin America. Though Bridget was overjoyed and shared her long-held dream of becoming a missionary, they both realized that they had no idea how to carry out their newfound calling.

Shortly thereafter, Richard visited with his pastor Ross Chandler and discovered that First Baptist Church Marble Falls had just completed training with Restore Hope and were ready to send their first missionaries to Honduras. Richard once again returned home, this time telling Bridget that he knew where they would be going and how they would get there.

“I have always thought of myself as practical and Bridget as a dreamer,” said Richard. “I could never put my arms around the logistical and economical sense of going on international missions. I was in a job that afforded me very little time off to devote to mission work. This all changed when God decided to shake things up a little.”

As all of the pieces started to come together for their move to the mission field, one of their long-term visions for their endeavor into cross cultural missions also began taking shape. They had felt a strong call to offer an opportunity for Americans students to join them in the mission field. In fact, they even prayed for an extra room in their house for that very purpose. God not only answered the prayer for an extra room, but He also provided the student.

While working on a production of “The Lion King Jr.,” Bridget learned of cast member Mikah Phillips’s passion for foreign missions. Phillips’s mother, Kristin, shared that Mikah had been praying about an opportunity for a long-term experience in the mission field. After a time of prayer and fasting, the Phillips family received confirmation that Mikah was indeed supposed to join the Slykers in Honduras. As a result, she will be joining them in January following her graduation from Faith Academy.

“Compared to the other options I have explored for plans after high school, living in Honduras has been the one that has received the most spiritual confirmation,” said Phillips. “Even during times of fear and worry, I have so much peace from the Lord. Even though my parents are naturally concerned about my safety, they have received peace from the Lord also. I know that this is what God had planned from the beginning, and therefore, Gracias, Honduras, is the most perfect place I could be, and the Slykers are the most perfect people to live with while following my call from Jesus Christ.”

The Slyker family will leave for Honduras in early August. Once they arrive, they will live and work among the indigenous Lenca people, who are the largest of eight indigenous people groups in Honduras with an estimated population of 116,000. Through building relationships, they hope to be able to share the Gospel, teach God's Word, make disciples, and share Christ's love with the Honduran people.

Though Richard and Bridget will be leaving behind very successful businesses and their children will have to transition into becoming part of a local Honduran school, they have no regrets. In fact, they are looking forward to friends and family joining them on short-term mission trips. There is even a rumor that the Faith Academy basketball team might drop in for a visit at a future date.

"I have thought and dreamed about this day for so long,” said Bridget. “There is something so powerful when we take a step of faith into the unknown and say yes to a calling, that requires complete trust in God to see it through. There is so much we can do on our own, and I was craving that kind of faith. From the time we said yes to the calling to serve in cross cultural missions, there has been one opportunity after another to trust Him completely with all of the uncertainties. For the last two years, we have been learning that we truly are in control of nothing. It is humbling because we know we could not make this happen on our own. He has worked out all things for His purposes and in His timing."

For more information about the Slyker’s mission in Honduras, please visit slykerfamilyministry.com.

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