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During Patty’s first year as a missionary, her annual support level—which covered her salary and other expenses—was just $15,000. That was 40 years ago, when she was sent by “Grace Brethren Foreign Missions,” which was later renamed “Grace Brethren International Missions” before rebranding to Encompass World Partners. Needless to say, Patty has witnessed a lot of changes throughout the course of her career.
But the biggest change she’s seen on the field has been the exponential growth of Charis church plants in France. She said, “There’s just been tremendous growth since those early years. When I first arrived, you could count the number of church members on your hands, and now we have five churches—one with about 250–300 people.” And Patty herself has played an instrumental role in facilitating that growth.
God gave Patty a knack for administrative work, so she has used that gifting to serve every European director Encompass has had during that time, including Larry DeArmey and Paul Klawitter. She even served as Tom Julien’s assistant while he was our Executive Director. Current Executive Director Mike Yoder can attest when he says, “Patty has shown an almost unrivaled commitment and resilience through her decades of service in France.” And Florent Varak, director of our Church Equipping Network, adds, “The Château would not have had such an influence without Patty’s tireless efforts and investments.”
Throughout her career, Patty also took it upon herself to encourage people to pray for the various church plants in France. She said, “I always had a heart to have people pray for our workers,” so she faithfully compiled prayer requests from French church leaders and emailed them to about 200 praying recipients. She says, “There used to be very few missionaries and churches in France, but as a result of prayer, more and more missionaries began to come.”
In addition to her administrative talents, God also gave Patty a passion for long-term discipleship, which is why she facilitated a small home-group. She said, “When I first met them in the early years, they weren’t even comfortable praying out loud with their own spouses, but little by little they grew.” After many long years of investing in them, she got to see lives completely transformed. She said, “The highlight of my whole career came when five of my peers were baptized together.” Today, one of them even serves as a deacon in his local church.
Not everyone can do missions for 40 years in another country like Patty, because God designed each of us to play a different role in His Kingdom. She reminds us, “I’m just one part of the bigger picture—we’re a body, and we should each accept the gifts God has given us instead of pressuring ourselves to be something that God didn’t create us to be.” Patty used her God-given gifts for God’s purposes, and as a result, she got to see an entire generation of churches being planted and lives being transformed.
It’s really beautiful to look back and see how God equipped Patty with specific talents in order to meet a specific need in His overall plan for growing His church in France. How has God uniquely equipped you to make a difference for His Kingdom? To learn more about our opportunities to serve, visit EncompassWorldPartners.org/Go.