Called to Obedience

Pat and Jeannie Hartsfield are ordinary people. Long-time members of Davisville Church, they were used by God in many ways at church and in their local community. Pat earned a degree in Sports Medicine, became a manager of medical offices, and grew into the role of elder at Davisville. Jeannie received a Masters degree in family counseling, enjoyed homeschooling their three children, and led the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) ministry at church. Whether through work or church, they loved telling others about Jesus.

They could never have guessed what God had in store for them next. In 2002 they were invited to be part of a group that Davisville would send to start a new church plant. Their initial excitement was replaced with doubt when they realized the church plant would be overseas among an unreached people group. “Aren’t we serving the Lord well here? What will happen to our ministries if we leave?” Willing to take a step of faith, they agreed to be a part of a team and to meet weekly to explore the possibilities, learn more about missions, and address their fears and concerns.

Although skeptical about serving as missionaries, Pat and Jeannie were encouraged by the proactive leadership of the elders and mission team. Thoughtful prayer and planning were put into selecting the team and curriculum. Learning and interacting with others were going through the same range of emotions helped forge strong relationships and a deeper sense of awe for the God who loves all the nations.

Six months into the process, the team had narrowed to ten people, and church leadership dropped another bombshell on them – Cambodia. Not Paris, Hawaii, or some other idyllic location the Hartfields had dreamt of, but third-world, steamy Cambodia. Davisville had solidified a partnership with World Team. Together they chose Cambodia as a good fit for the church and the team. “Cambodia was definitely not on our radar screen,” Pat recalls.

With a lot of prayer, they took a few more steps of faith as a family and began planning for a ten-day vision trip to Cambodia with the team. God moved mightily in their hearts on that trip and gave them the courage to say yes, we will go where God leads us. “We didn’t feel a strong call to Cambodia, so much as a call that God was challenging our course and wanted us on board – it was a call to obedience.”

Returning home and reflecting on the trip, the Hartsfields began to see more clearly how their gifts could be used in Cambodia. They pressed onward, buoyed by each small step forward and the continual support from team members, church leaders, and the entire church community. Thankful for the community-driven ministry approach of the church, Pat and Jeannie began training others to step into their ministry roles while they prepared for the challenging work of cross-cultural church planting that lay ahead.

That’s when the step-by-step aspect of the process really began to crystallize. No longer was this a fuzzy thing called ‘missions.’ It was active and intentional. With a vision for God’s glory to be made known in Cambodia, all their actions worked toward that end. They found a new purpose in serving at Davisville, training others to serve, and getting ready to help plant a church in an area of the world with far greater needs and fewer believers.

With each passing month, the connection between local and global ministries grew stronger and stronger for the team members, church leaders, and the whole church body. More people were being challenged to minister locally with the growing vision for ministry globally. The ripple effect throughout the church created a strong sense of ownership in the ministry to Cambodia and support for the team they were sending.

Years later, the ministries Pat and Jeannie left at Davisville are still going strong. Cambodian nationals are hearing about Jesus for the first time, and new churches are forming. They find great joy in watching other ordinary people follow Jesus’ call to obedience. The church in Cambodia is growing, and Davisville is exploring where to send its next church-based team.