Ben Johnson has responded to the questions I asked. I want to ask you to be in prayer for Ben and Crystal. They are missionaries to China and should arrive there later this year. You can learn more about them and their ministry by clicking here.

What in your childhood prepared you to be a missionary?


Everything. Honestly, I have never really thought about it until more recently. God has blessed me in a lot of ways. I grew up in church and hearing the truth. I went on missions trips. I was able to be involved in the ministry as a teenager. I have been given much. Sadly, I know many who grew up exactly like I did but wasted what God has given them.


How did your family react?

Again, I have been blessed. My parents told me when I said I was going to be a missionary that they would rather me not be but they would not stand between me and what God would have me do. They have always encouraged me in it and told me they were proud of me for it.


Who or what has been the most helpful or encouragement, person, book, or whatever?


I have had many people who have helped me and encouraged me through the years. My pastor I grew up under, Charles Blackstock, often spent time with me, teaching me to do a lot of the ministry. I have had friends like Jake Taube and Mark Tolson who have also helped and encouraged me to make it to the field. Trent Cornwell who gave me the chance to help and teach in our adult Bible fellowship. Then of course, my pastor Austin Gardner who always has time for helping me.


If you could start over what would you do differently about your preparation and all that has brought you to where you are right now?


I wish I would have spent more time at the church. Honestly, until my internship in China, I had a lot of theory and knew what I was supposed to do but I was lacking in the knowledge of how to do it. Now I know. I wish I could have switched that around and known more than just the what and why but the how and done it.


What misconceptions have you had to overcome?


The biggest one always has to do with what can actually be done in China. For a lot of people, China is a scary place filled with dangers – specifically, that the government is out to get you. There are many in the area who believe you can’t buy Bibles or even preach the Gospel in China. It has been slow but we have been able to help overcome those misconceptions but truthfully, there are those who don’t believe us and are even hesitant to support us because of it.


What was the hardest thing for you so far?


I know deputation is part of the preparation for the field and the biggest preparation is the amount of mountains and valleys you go through. Before the ministry, we had our highs and our lows but they were spaced pretty far apart. On deputation, one week can be an incredible and and the next week an incredible low. Dealing with that has been difficult.



What advice would you give to those headed to cross cultural ministry?

Don’t just jump into it without proper training. If at all possible, live overseas for a minimum of 6 months. A two week survey trip is exciting but it will give you very little idea what idea what it is really like to live there.


Who is your missionary hero from the past?


As a missionary to China, how could I not say Hudson Taylor? He accomplished a lot in what he did. He pushed the boundaries of missions further into China rather than just the ports they were supposed to be in. His example is one to be followed in many ways.



Give us a funny experience about traveling with your children.


We were at a church one time and our daughter, who is not shy, was talking to the song leader. He was a rather large guy. Well, my daughter was talking with him and says, “You’re funny!” and then she points at his stomach and asks, “Do you have a baby in there?” Fortunately, he thought it was hilarious and told the whole story to the church. My wife though was mortified that it had happened.


How old are your children?


Evelyn is 4 years old and Maddox is almost 4 months old.


What is something that you are concerned about dealing with on your field?


First of all, language. Chinese is tough. We had a taste of it on our internship but we know there is a lot of work to be done. Secondly, schooling for our kids. We want them to know Chinese but schooling in China can be intense in some ways such as having school 10-12 hours a day and pressure for tests. So we are praying and looking into other options.


What do you do to keep encouraged in the testings and trials that you face?


The Bible. I read it each morning (most) days. I start in Genesis and go through Revelation. I have found that even in the harder times, it does not matter where I am, there is something there.


How long before you leave for the field, realistically?


Realistically, I believe we could be there by the end of 2015.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

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