IMB welcomes 61 new missionaries
Apr 18, 2012

MISSIONARIES Rob and Lori Pengra chat with friends in the fellowship hall of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La., after a March 21 missionary appointment service. The Pengras will be returning to Thailand where they served previously as career missionaries. BP photo
LAKE CHARLES, La. (BP)—He was a rebellious punk rock skateboarder who openly renounced his family’s faith, telling his parents that “God was a joke.”

But God had a plan for Charles Drake*. During college, he met a friend who also listened to punk rock but didn’t act like a punk rocker. He was loving, kind and compassionate—and he invited Drake to join a men’s Bible study group.

“(I) started reading the New Testament and was blown away by Jesus—His power to raise the dead, to calm storms … His compassion to forgive sins, to die on a cross for my sins,” Drake said. “He saved me.”

As a new believer, Drake’s natural reaction was to tell others about Christ. He started with his friends, but after a trip to Russia he knew God was calling him to something bigger.

After serving as a journeyman missionary for two years, Drake, his wife Renee* and their two children will now live among East Asian peoples.

The Drakes were among 61 newly appointed missionaries honored March 21 during a service at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La., which followed a meeting of trustees of the International Mission Board.

Though many of the IMB missionaries were called to vocational ministry early in life, several candidates, like Drake, came from unusual backgrounds. Others made radical shifts from previous life plans as God called them to missions.


When Jermaine Willis* was serving in the Middle East with the U.S. Marine Corps, he didn’t just see a combat zone—he saw people who need the Gospel.

“They just had absolutely no hope,” Jermaine said. “I could just see it on their faces, I could just hear it in their voices and [watch it] in their lifestyle …. [T]hey just were lost and had nothing.

“That’s always kind of burdened and impressed me that I wanted to go back, if not to the exact same people, to the same types of people [Arab Muslims] in the Middle East and be able to offer that hope ... that can only come through the Gospel.”

Though Willis felt called to missions before joining the military, seeing the reality and needs of Middle Eastern people confirmed that call.


Growing up, Suzanne Willis*, Jermaine’s wife, had one specific life ambition—to work in politics and constitutional law.

Though offered a full scholarship to a school near Washington, D.C., Suzanne felt the Lord leading her to a Bible college in Dallas. She told God she would not go into ministry, but while there, she said God slowly changed her heart.

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