Missions specialist Kim Margrave served with Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for 22 years
By Ashley Perham
Baptist & Reflector intern
FRANKLIN — In the past 22 years, Tennessee Baptists have been able to partner in missions with ministries in more than 20 states and countries due largely to the work of Kim Margrave, the “Lottie Moon of Tennessee,” as Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, describes her.
Margrave, volunteer missions specialist, has been working at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board since 1997. She stepped down from her role Aug. 8 to join the staff of ClearView Baptist Church, Franklin, as missions director.
Margrave, who grew up in Sevierville, said that only God could orchestrate her life in such a way to get to travel all over the state, the country and the world meeting missionaries, church planters and pastors.
“A few years, before I got married, I did 75,000 miles in the air that year, and I think I averaged 150 nights out of my bed,” she said. “That’s not counting travel in-state.”
As the volunteer missions specialist, Margrave has helped Tennessee Baptist churches connect with opportunities to serve around the world.
Margrave got involved in missions during college. On her way to a summer missions selection weekend for college students, she said she just knew she would work for Tennessee Baptists in college.
“I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know when, and I didn’t know in what capacity, but I knew that I would,” she said.
In 1997, she began to work for Tennessee Baptists through partnership missions. Partnership missions is helping churches and associations create strategic relationships for missions with places that they have investigated to ensure they are a good fit.
“Partnerships have been going for almost 40 years, and I’ve been there 22 of the 40 years,” she said.
When Margrave first started working at the TBMB, Tennessee was only doing one state partnership and maybe two international partnerships, she said. Now, Tennessee has three state partnerships and two to three international partnerships, depending on the year.
The biggest partnership Margrave worked with was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In fact, that was her first experience overseas.
“Rio de Janeiro by far has probably been the largest in terms of volume of people that we’ve sent. We’ve sent close to 5,000 people in 10 years. We saw close to 60,000 people come to faith in Christ,” Margrave said.
Margrave also worked with partnerships in Portugal, Malta, Italy, Canada, West Africa, Nicaragua, Argentina and Poland, among others.
Margrave has had a partnership in Guatemala for the past three years and has also made plans for a Germany partnership that will begin in November.
“The fun thing with Guatemala right now where we currently are is it’s a lot like Rio so we have a lot of people that are currently going,” Margrave said. “In three years, we’ve probably had close to 1,000 people.”
Margrave has also been involved in seven stateside partnerships during her time at the TBMB: Michigan, Iowa, Montana, Las Vegas, Denver, Ohio and New England.
Margrave has also worked with missions in the state of Tennessee, including the City Reach project now in its fourth year. City Reach is a great example of one of Margrave’s mottos: “You don’t need a passport to do missions work!”
The project is a partnership with the five largest metro associations in the state (Clarksville, Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville) for two years each on a rotating schedule.
“Seventy percent of our population in Tennessee lives in those five cities, and I think the number is 80 percent of our population is not connected to any faith-based group in the state of Tennessee,” Margrave pointed out. “So if we can reach our population centers, hopefully that will pour over into the rest of the state.”
Margrave said that it was hard to compare the success of different partnerships, and not measuring success by tangible results is a difficult thing for Tennessee Baptists to grasp at times.
“I think as … Tennesseans by our nature, we’re doers. We have a task list that we want to accomplish, and if you take that task list away from us, that becomes more challenging,” said Margrave, pointing out that Tennessee Baptists need to think broader than tangible projects.
One way Margrave would like Tennessee Baptists to think broader is through prayerwalking, challenging though it may be.
“I’m willing to die on this hill. I think before we send any ministry team … I think the first teams in need to be a small team of four or five people going to prayerwalk, and that’s all they go to do.”
One of the least known changes Margrave has overseen is that of security training for churches going on missions trips.
“That’s been a hard one to promote, because of the nature of it, but at the same time, it’s very needed,” she said.
Margrave said that the thing she will miss most about her job is the relationships and people. She said that seeing churches come alongside other churches to work together is “beautiful.”
“I’m trusting that the Lord has already prepared somebody to come in and that they’ll make it their own and they’ll take it to a whole new level and whole other experience,” she said.
Along with the countless lives touched by gospel through the missions partnerships Margrave has put together, she has also touched the lives of Tennessee Baptists by allowing them to see how God can use their gifts and talents in missions.
“Everything about this work is a step of faith. It’s a step of faith that Tennessee Baptist churches are going to respond. And it’s a step of faith for the partners who we’re going to see for them to trust us to come into their ministry field,” Margrave said.
“Everything about it is a step of faith.”