By Engage on Oct 11, 2011
Gavin and Jill Fothergill have served in the border region between the U.S. and Mexico since 2007, doing church planting and development through the Nazarene Border Initiative -- calling, training and sending college-aged adults from the eight Nazarene universities and colleges in the U.S. to work in missions through Youth In Mission (YIM).
This is their first missionary assignment, which they accepted immediately after Gavin graduated from Nazarene Theological Seminary. Jill worked at Nazarene Global Mission from 2005 to 2007.
They have two children: Macy (4), and Connor (2)
Engage: How did you first recognize God’s call to be involved in missions?
Fothergill: Gavin was called to be a missionary in eighth grade. From there, supporting missions through short-term
trips, fundraising, prayer, telling the story, college, and various other avenues of cross-cultural ministry, Gavin affirmed and strengthened his call. Jill was called to missions during a service at NYC '99 [Nazarene Youth Congress]. Jill explored ministry and missions during college and went on to work for Nazarene Global Mission at the [denomination's] Global Ministry Center, and thus confirmed her calling.
Engage: What is your favorite aspect of what you do in your present assignment?
Fothergill: It is awesome to see God changing the hearts and lives of people as they come to know him, and to see college students used in amazing ways for the kingdom.
Engage: What are some of the challenges that you face in carrying out your work?
Fothergill: The drug problems [in Mexico] of recent years have almost halted the flow of Work & Witness teams into Mexico. In addition, some people aren't comfortable with coming to the U.S. side of the border for fear of the troubles in Mexico. We have to be a lot more creative, and to change the way that we work throughout the vast border region, but God is still working in amazing ways.
Engage: Please share a story of a significant event or moment that has happened in your current assignment.
Fothergill: We were praying for a church [to start] in the city of Chihuahua, Chihuahua. The city had four other churches, but could use many more with its population of nearly a million people. We were praying for a place to build with a man who had been raised up from another congregation to serve as the pastor when someone knocked on the door. It was an official from the city asking if this was the location of a house church. We answered yes and he began to tell us about the piece of land across the street. It belonged to the city and he was looking to give it away to a Christian organization, and we could have it if we promised to build a church on it. Not only that, but they even sent us our first load of materials for the foundation. God answered our prayers right away in an even greater way than we could have imagined.
Engage: How do you maintain a close relationship with God and your family in the midst of the demands of missionary service?
Fothergill: I think it is the simple things that are important: family days, when you can sneak them in, intentional play times with the kids, together with prayer and family devotions. Sometimes, there is no regular schedule for every aspect, but we try and bring them in as much as we can.
Engage: What are some aspects of the culture where you live that you have come to love or embrace?
Fothergill: The food and the laid back atmosphere.
Engage: What do you like to do for fun?
Fothergill: Gavin enjoys soccer and gardening, while Jill likes crafts.
Engage: What advice would you have for others exploring a possible call to missions, or embarking on their first missionary assignment?
Fothergill: Get involved right away in your community and slowly branch out. God will teach you every step of the way. For those just heading out, try to become a baby again and learn everything there is to learn about going to your new location.
You have to start at the beginning.
Economics and vision attract Nazarenes to working on the U.S.-Mexico border region. Read more.
Learn more about projects with the Nazarene Border Initiative: