By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
PALMER, Alaska — John and Kaye Thomas can be found in their Sevierville home about 100 days a year — mostly for Kaye’s part-time job. The rest of the time they are away doing missions work. Even while they are at home they often are found plugging into missions opportunities.
Currently they are based out of their RV in Palmer, Alaska, on an assignment which will extend through July. Then the journey home will require an additional three weeks.
The couple’s job there is something they are looking forward to and experienced at — coordinating missions teams coming to assist Gary Bearce, a Southern Baptist church strategist in Alaska.
The Thomases have ministered in Alaska before, nine years ago when they came to help construct homes for retiring pastors who had little equity to apply to a home purchase because they had lived in parsonages and/or served small churches.
“We thoroughly enjoyed it but have not come back because God has not led us back,” explained Kaye.
Following God’s leadership is the main priority of the Thomases. About 14 years ago God led John to give up his business and then about four years ago Kaye to retire early. They did this because God called them to missions, they explained.
Since then, the couple has seen many miracles, has learned more about the devil, and has learned to depend on God “instead of trying to do it yourself,” said John. They also have had awesome experiences, such as evening devotions with fellow missions volunteers “sharing our praises and worshiping God, sometimes under the stars, wherever we are,” recalled Kaye.
Last year, one of their “busiest years,” recalled Kaye, they ministered in Panama (twice), Thailand, Guatemala, Virginia, Colorado, and South Carolina. Over the years they have served in 11 countries and in dozens of states. They serve mainly through Southern Baptist channels.
Obstacles arise, the couple reported. It seems like before every big missions trip they take, especially when they are responsible for a lot of people, the devil tries to stop them, said John. The devil usually begins by planting apprehension, he explained. “That can discourage you if you let it,” said John. “But if you take a stance against the devil, it works out. You just have to go.” They also have stopped worrying about funding. God always provides, the Thomases said.
John is a highly sought missions worker, since he is a retired building contractor. But Kaye, an educator, has found her niche in missions too, she observed.
For instance, a few months ago in Thailand she stepped in to relieve a missionary mom who was homeschooling her children. John repaired and repaired, it seemed, though he loves it because that is his calling, he explained. John worked mainly on the homes of the missionaries. The couple stayed in Thailand for about a month.
On many missions trips, they are joined by First, Sevierville, members, as they will be in Alaska.
“We have some wonderful team members from our church and great encouragement from our church as a whole,” reported Kaye. They are thrilled to report some of their fellow missions volunteers are considering God’s call to full-time missions.
Besides their church’s support, they credit some friends like Earl and Marilyn Burnett, also members of First, Sevierville, for mentoring them. Earl sold his heating and air conditioning business in mid-life to plant churches in Colorado. The Burnetts and the Thomases often do missions work together.
“It is awesome how God can use ordinary people like us to work alongside Him in His work!” observed Kaye.
For more information on the Thomases, contact Commissioned Ministries and Benevolence, 1470 Chapman Highway, Sevierville, TN 37876 or firstname.lastname@example.org.