Interviewing Travis Snode Part Two

This is part two of our interview with Travis Snode. I want you to know that God can use you as well. You have been reading missionary interviews for some time now. What is going on in your heart? What is burning there? Do you want to be involved?

We can help you. We are here to further your ministry. We would love to have you get in touch with us and let us show you how your life could be used greatly for the cause of Jesus Christ in World Evangelism.

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

First, get experience in evangelism, discipleship, and local church ministry. I grew up in church and was involved in all the usual ministries, but before I came to the mission field, I had never: a) discipled someone from unbelieving to maturity where they were attending church faithfully, giving, and involved, b) baptized anyone or conducted the Lord’s supper, c) been mentored by a pastor who trained me for hospital visits, church membership issues, dealing with conflict, training leaders, etc.

Second, gain experience failing and falling and learning. You can learn a lot on the mission field, but it is better to learn some of these basic things about evangelism, preaching, disciples, church-ministry, church-planting, personal conflicts, etc. under the guidance of a wise and experience pastor rather than on the mission field where you are on your own. It takes much longer, is much harder, costs more, and some do not recover from the challenge.

Third, learn doctrine and know your Bible. I grew up in church, learned verses in children’s church, etc, but I really did not know how to use my Bible, how to answer people’s questions, and how to defend the faith.

Who is your missionary hero from the past?

Because of my time in Ireland, probably my favourite missionary hero is Patrick, coming referred to as Saint Patrick. When you carefully look at his writings, you find out that he was a Bible-believing Christian who preached salvation by grace through faith in Christ, practiced believer’s baptism by immersion, and diligently worked for the conversion of souls. His courage, faith, and commitment have been real inspiration to me. To read a great book about life, check out Let Me Die in Ireland, the True Story of Patrick by David Bercot.

What is your most treasured memory?

Probably the greatest memory I have so far of my time on the field was the ordination of James Wilson. He is the man that God raised up to pastor the church we spent eight years planting in Northern Ireland. It wonderful to see the church building full and so many out to support James on that special day. It was great to have my pastor there who preached my ordination there. It was great to have other pastor friends there. It was great to have the pastor who led James to the Lord as young man there. And it was great to see some other young men there with a heart for God. It was all incredibly encouraging to see that our labour was not in vain in the Lord.

Are there any special people or groups in your field that have blessed you in any way specially?

Over the years, many friends have visited with us and encouraged us here on the mission field. I hesitate to mention some because I don’t want to leave any out, but here are a few. Our pastor Austin Gardner and his wife Betty visited us many times and gave lots of helpful counsel and wisdom. Pastor Tony Howeth visited and preached for us numerous times, giving counsel and encouragement. Bro. Chris Stansell paid his way to come several times, bringing people to help us in the work and packing extra bags filled with gifts for our family. Stephen and April Baker came numerous times and have been wonderful friends that we have enjoyed having come. Chris and Sherry Waye served with us for a year in London and helped us a very crucial time. Sam Quinn worked in the ministry in Northern Ireland for three full years and was there through many challenges and victories. The ministry would not be where it is today if it were not for his investment. Pastor Wesley Crawford and his wife Helen were a great source of counsel and encourage to us in Northern Ireland. Pastor Lawrence Smyth and his wife Josephine from Limavady were great friends to us. Ronnie and Marsha Smith were the missionaries we helped (and who helped us) when we first landed on the field, and we are so thankful for their friendship and encouragement. Jerome Pittman, Craig Ledbetter, and other missionaries in the Republic of Ireland encouraged us and blessed us during our time there. Martin and Carrie Wickens have been dear friends to us and we are thankful for their investment in us. I could go on and on, but God has always brought people across our path to help us and encourage us, and we are so thankful for them.

How old are your children?

Grant is 10; Darci is 7, and Cali is 5.

What sort of strange custom would there be on your mission field that people might enjoy hearing about?

Probably the most interesting part of living in Ireland and the UK is the differences in “language.” One person said that Britain and American are two countries divided by a common language and that is very true. The way things are said, the different ways words are used, all makes for very interested dialogue. Here in the UK, the truck is the boot, the car hood is the bonnet, fries are chips (unless they are skinny fries), biscuits are cookies (unless you are talking about chocolate chip cookies), tea can refer to tea, tea and biscuits, dinner, lunch, or even a snack. And all these things and vary slightly from region to region with differences in the way things are said and different terms for the same thing! (Confused yet?)

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

1) Count our blessings. There are always things to complain about but always much more to rejoice over. We try to write a weekly update list, which forces us to write about and think on the positive things that are happening.

2) Read God’s Word. The Bible is a continual source of comfort and encouraging. Meditating on it and upon God help to control our thinking and keep us encouraged.

3) Talk to others. Staying in communication with other friends, Christians, and people in the ministry exposes areas of doubt, fear, and encourages us to keep on going.

How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?

I need to be saved, have a clear call to missions, have the backing of a local sending church, have proper missions training, and have enough financial support.

What kinds of things do you do beyond what most people see? What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?

Most people probably think that missionaries spend all their time knocking doors and evangelising. That is a part of what we do, but there are tons of things to keep a missionary busy: 1) normal life stuff like setting up a house, getting things repaired, family time, 2) church planting stuff such as finding building to rent, designing and printing literature, distributing literature, administration, 3) spending time with people – those who teach you culture and language, those you are trying to befriend and witness to, those you are trying to disciple, those who are there for an internship or mission trip, other pastors and missionaries, 4) studying and preparing sermons and material – church messages, classes, blog articles, podcasts, and 5) reporting and communicating – prayer letters, email updates, emails, blog articles, and phone calls.

What misconceptions do people often have about your job?

That we can spend all our time evangelising. That we just like to travel and visit exotic places. That they are the only one we have to write back or call back. That they are the only supporting church that wanted a survey filled out. That we can remember everyone we meet on the deputation trail of 250-300 churches. That missions is incredibly exciting all the time. That we never get discouraged and are super-spiritual.

What are your average work hours?

The nature of my job means that I can tend to always be working, but typically I work about 4 hours on a Sunday outside of church services, 6 hours on a Monday after spending part of the day relaxing, 10 hours Tuesday through Friday, and then 3-4 hours on a Saturday outside of normal outreach and youth work, so it can be around 60 hours per week.

What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?

Logos Bible Software has helped with reading, research, and study. It has cut down my study time and make me more effective in the time I have.

A smart phone has made keeping up with email, phone calls, blogs, social media on the go very helpful, which means I have need less time in front of a computer.

Speaking to mentors and other experience people about various areas that I don’t know a lot about has saved me time and money.

Reading and learning, though at the moment might take time has helped me to learn and grow so that I work smarter and wiser.

What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?

The worst part of my job can be the almost constant nature of the work. It is very hard to switch off and stop working because there is always more to be done on so many fronts. What has helped me to do is to turn off the internet when I need to study, go away when I want time with my wife or kids, take family vacations away from the house once a year, and try to block out chunks of time for what is important including rest.

What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?

The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing first-hand the work of God in people’s lives. It is so exciting to be on the front line and see people saved, people grow in their faith, and doors open.

What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?

Most people think missionaries are poor, and that is often the case. They certainly are not rich (at least the ones I know), but if you raise enough support you can live comfortable, invest in a reasonable retirement, drive a decent car, and enjoy doing some things such as travel that most people would love to do. If you are fully committed to the ministry and the Lord, you will always be wanting to invest as much as you can in the ministry, but there is no reason to think that as a missionary you will have to eat beans and rice the rest of your life and live in a grass hut.

How do you move up in your field?

I think you move up in the field of missions by going down. That is a Biblical principle, but as you train men and make them a success, you actually become a success as well. Their success is your success, but you have to give, sacrifice, and invest in order to make that happen.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?

1) Make sure you are saved and work on your walk with God. That is the foundation for everything you do in the ministry. 2) Get involved in and serve in your local church. It does not get any easier when you move overseas. If you can’t prove you ministry there, then you probably should not try to do it somewhere else.

3) Learn, study, and read all you can. When you get to the field, you will need a deep well from which to draw out as you teach and train others.

4) Takes risk, learn to fall and fail, and to get back up and keep going. The mission field is about being flexible, about learning all the time, and about learning from mistakes.

5) Remember that God wants you to succeed far more than you want to success. He may go about it in a way that you don’t expect, but it is God’s work and He will bless those who get involved in it.

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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