Interviewing Travis Snode Part One

Travis Snode, missionary serving in London, England, has graciously agreed to be interviewed. I hope you can learn and grow from our time together. Travis has been a faithful servant of the Lord for a long time. He serves in a place that has been greatly used of God in the past and we all long to see God do it again!

How did God confirm to you that you should be a missionary?

I was saved as a child and had a real desire to read God’s Word and to serve God. God was working in me, and I believe that I was sensitive to the Lord and willing to do what He wanted. I was also brought up in a home where God was the priority, and the Lord’s work was honoured. In the context of that environment, we attended a church where missions was a big emphasis.

One night, when I was 9 years old, during a missions conference, I heard a missionary speak and I remember being aware of a great desire to be a missionary. I publicly announced that I believed God wanted me in missions. The desire to serve God stayed with me and increased as I grew older. I took a mission trip with my church to Ecuador when I was sixteen which confirmed the desire to serve in missions. In Bible College, I had the opportunity to go to Peru for six months. God provided all the finances for that trip and help me to complete the internship. Once again, it seems that God was putting missions in my heart and showing that He had gifted me for that work.

As I prepared to go as a missionary and all along the way, many Godly people in the church confirmed that they could see God working in my life and that I was gift to preach and to do missions work. When my wife and I began deputation, again we saw God confirm that He wanted us on the field as He helped us to raise our support in under two years and opened doors for us on the mission field.

What in your childhood prepared you to be a missionary?

During my childhood, God gave me two great tools to help prepare me as a missionary: 1) Godly parents, and 2) a wonderful church.

My parents were not in full-time ministry, but they were full-time Christians. My dad worked very hard as a welder and doing many other jobs on the side, but he always had time to go to church and serve in the church. We were there every time the doors were open even if it meant leaving a baseball game early.

We served in the local church primarily through the bus ministry, and my parents never spoke negatively of the leadership or the church. They always encouraged my two brothers and I to listen and learn from God’s Word. They took church seriously and wanted us in the preaching service. They encouraged us to take notes, to ask questions, and to discuss what we were learning in the car on the way home.

My parents worked hard to install character in us, through prayer, hard work, manners, and Bible reading. They never just went with the flow or did whatever else was doing. They walked with God and did what they believe God wanted for our family, even if it went against the culture or what was popular. They were not overprotective, but they did guard the influences in our lives that could have turned our hearts away.

Not only did God give me some wonderful parents, but He put us in a great church, the Mansfield Baptist Temple in Mansfield, Ohio. I was saved under the preaching, baptised, and surrendered to missions under the ministry of Pastor Richard Folger. I remember praying with Pastor Adkins numerous times at the altar, and Pastor Humble would often ask me if i was still going to be a missionary. Bro. Curt Smith, the youth pastor there, encouraged me to develop my gifts of leading in the youth group and took me on my first missions trip.

Numerous other people in the church influence me: Sunday school teachers, children’s church workers, coaches, deacons who took me visiting, teachers. They were a mighty army of workers who encouraged and mentored me and many others like me. I do not know where my family and I would be God graciously putting us under the influence of the folks at Mansfield Baptist Temple.

How did your family react?

When I surrendered to missions, my family was a very supportive. They did not go over the top with pride and congratulations. They simply encouraged me to walk with God and sought to install character. They never discouraged me and when it came time to go on missions trips or missions internships, they encouraged me to take them. They let me spent time with, write to, and talk to missionaries. They really encouraged us with the important of marrying wisely. I am very thankful for the support of my family.

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

After I finished high school, I attended Crown College, which was a very exciting place with many young people who had a heart for the Lord and for missions. I am very thankful for the friendships, encouragement, and training that I received there. One friend that I made the first day in college was a man named Jeff Bush, who was very excited about world evangelism, discipleship, and serving God. We would often pray together over the world and share what God was teaching us through His Word. His enthusiasm for the Lord really impacted me.

Through Jeff, I met Mark Coffey and then Pastor Austin Gardner, who was a missionary to Peru. I was able to take a six month internship to Peru where I learned first-hand about the mission field. That internship began a mentoring relationship with Bro. Gardner, who is now my pastor. He has helped coach me and give me specific wisdom about the ministry and missions that has proved invaluable over the years.

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?

The main thing I would change about my preparation would be to work harder at discipleship and investing in others. I am a task-oriented person which often might see people as intrusions not opportunities. I would work hard and do things but seldom bring people with me. I regret not having more time for people, not deliberate seeking to invest and encourage others in their walk for God, and not getting more training in how to disciple. I think it would have been better if I would have gain more experience in discipleship and ministry before arriving on the mission field. It would have saved me from making some serious mistakes and wasting time doing good things but not the best things.

What misconceptions have you had to overcome?

Because God led me to work in Ireland and the United Kingdom, I had to overcome the misconceptions that God is not at work in Europe. Many people told me things like: the harvest is past, that is a missionary graveyard, we are just in the gleanings, nothing significant will ever be done, we already tried that and it won’t work, etc. This was incredibly discouraging to me as a young man with a desire to serve God. It made me think that maybe all my preparation and plans were a mistake and that I had missed God’s will.

Slowly, I began to realise that even though there are significant obstacles to the work of the gospel in Europe that are also several other things that are true: 1) everywhere in the world has its challenges and nowhere is it easy, 2) God is able to do what is impossible to men, 3) we would not be given the commission to go into all the world if we were going to fail, 4) often we get what we expect, so we must be careful to watch our attitudes about the work, and 5) the focus the of our work should not be on getting a crowd together but on discipling and training men who will read the multitudes.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in the ministry so far?

Probably the most embarrassing (and looking back, the funniest) thing was what happened on my first survey trip. I had just landed in the Dublin and was so excited to be in the country I had wanted to come to for years. I went out for a walk and met some people who were walking into town. As we walked and chatted, I told them why I was there. They offered to show me around the town and I offered to buy them a drink. I meant a coke or orange juice or something, but the drink they had in mind was certainly not non-alcholic. They took me to a good place to buy “a drink” which looks a whole lot like a pub and restaurant. By the time I realise what was happening, they had already ordered some alcohol and I was obliged to pay for it because I had offered they told me earlier they had no cash. I did manage to witness to them, but how in the world did I manage to get myself in a situation where I was buying people alcohol!?

What was the hardest thing for you so far?

The hardest thing for me as a missionary has been to deal with conflict. The work of God is not without opposition and often this expresses itself in personal conflicts and disagreements. I have found dealing with sin, conflict, and personal disagreements very stretching, challenging, and difficult. Figuring out the right way to handle things and having the courage to do what is right has not been easy, but it has been necessary and I am thankful for God’s grace and strength.

What part of being a missionary do you enjoy the most?

I really, really enjoy seeing God work in people’s lives. I love seeing them grasp spiritual truths and watching those truths change their lives. I love watching people grow in their faith, in boldness, and in love for Christ. I love watching men step up and lead and see God use them as they swing their sword.

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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