By Laura McKillip Wood
Nate McGlumphry’s life has been a long preparation for overseas ministry. When he was 6 years old he met a missionary named Betty Carlson at his church’s children’s program. Betty worked in the Congo and shared with Nate how there were people in the world who had never heard of God or seen a Bible. “This news seemed unbelievable at the time but opened my eyes to the need for missionaries,” Nate says.
In high school, Nate took a part-time job working in children’s ministry at his church, Parkview Church in Iowa City, Iowa. There he managed the ministry’s growing tech needs. Upon his high school graduation in 2001 he was offered a full-time position at the church. Believing that God was leading him into ministry, he accepted the position. He began directing the weekly Sunday school program, coordinating music, and directing Kids Days (a weekly summer VBS program). He also eventually completed a degree in elementary education.
One transformative point in Nate’s ministry happened when he examined the Kids’ Days program that the church led. “I realized only 2 percent of kids who attended were unchurched kids. I led the shift to take VBS out of the church and into the community, and that percentage increased to 30 percent of kids being unchurched.” The process of expanding the ministry to reach those outside the church walls helped grow his desire to minister to those who may not have had an opportunity to hear about the gospel. He also purposely chose to live in a culturally diverse area of his town, near plenty of immigrants, so that he could learn more about them and how to build bridges to people from different cultures.
Nate’s older brother and his wife, Keevin and Stephanie, served as missionaries in Taiwan for many years and influenced his desire to serve as a missionary. Even though he never got to visit them while they were on the field, Nate did travel to Taiwan with them after they left that ministry. “That visit to Taiwan revealed to me the various ways missions can look and that a missionary can come from any background or upbringing,” he states. He witnessed a variety of work, including orphan care, prison ministry, church planting, and college and youth ministry. “I gained a greater understanding of missions work and a stronger relationship with my brother,” Nate adds. Since then and since his decision to pursue full-time intercultural ministry, Nate’s brother and sister-in-law have proved a valuable support team.
Now Nate is sure that after years of shaping his desire to reach the lost and his heart for missions, God is opening the door for him to serve in a foreign land. A missionary in Australia, Jennifer Reynolds, invited him to explore a ministry that fits his educational and ministry background. He took a trip to Australia and returned with the conviction that God could use him in this work. Nate will serve under the guidance of New Mission Systems International. He will be teaching Scripture classes in public schools and helping the church Jennifer attends develop more missional opportunities for children and families.
Nate says one of his biggest challenges along the way has been doubt. “The devil has hit me hard numerous times with lies about who I am or what I am capable of and has used others to cast fear and discouragement in my life,” he says. However, during times of doubt he clings to what he knows is true, the Bible, for assurance. These times have strengthened his reliance on God and on his mentors and friends. He knows that being a single person in a new place means he will face loneliness, and he plans to seek out a community of peers and mature believers there. He says, “I do not want to become stagnant in my walk with the Lord but rather to strengthen my relationship with God so I can be of great use in the work he has called me to do.” Nate’s education, experience, and background, coupled with the strength of God and leading of the Holy Spirit, have prepared him to do just that!
If you are interested in learning more about Nate and his plans for ministry in Australia, contact him at email@example.com.
Laura McKillip Wood formerly taught missionary children in Ukraine and now works as registrar of Nebraska Christian College. She and her husband, Andrew, have three children (lauramckillipwood.com).