Paul and Elizabeth Walker, along with their three children, Hannah (18), Caleb (14), and Naomi (10), have been part of the Cornerstone family for 12 years. Caleb, a current Cornerstone eighth grade student, and his family know that they have a specific call on their lives to love and serve others. In fact, they are living out their mission serving children, individuals, and families.
For 13 years, Paul and Elizabeth owned and operated Favorite Time Academy, a NAEYC accredited early learning center in Acworth. In May of 2018, the Walkers sold this location and are very thankful for the new opportunities that God is providing in bi-vocational Christian service and in the financial markets. They are also praying about several advocacy and non-profit goals.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting the Walker family, you're in for a treat. The Walkers have been on three self-directed mission trips to Mexico in the last 12 months. Thankfully they were home long enough for us to catch up with them and hear more about their mission work and passion for sharing the Gospel in Mexico. The last mission trip included Elizabeth, Hannah, and Naomi from Jan 25 thru Mar 4. Paul and Caleb joined the family Feb 10-25 so Caleb wouldn’t miss his friends at Cornerstone, and of course, not miss too much school.
Paul, you’ve had three mission trips to Mexico in the last 12 months. Tell us about your most recent visit.
On this last trip we really believe God opened the door for us to help a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) missionary team in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. For part of the trip, our family was able to stay at the YWAM community center. We were very excited to be onsite and completely immersed with the team. This is something we had been praying about, and we were excited to have an opportunity to serve and work with the team. Caleb and I had the opportunity to fix some plumbing within 10 minutes of arriving in Mexico. We also built a framing structure above the women’s and men’s bathrooms for storage. The goal of having this storage location was to free up space for children’s ministry. In addition to the YWAM program, we visited multiple churches and participated in their weekly outreaches including preparing after-school meals for children, men’s bible study, and visiting local orphanages. We also had the chance to visit with family and friends. It was a very busy time, but we trusted that God would keep us focused on whatever and wherever He wanted us. Elizabeth also enjoyed meeting people on the streets, beaches, and shops to share the Gospel.
Elizabeth, what are some ways in which you serve?
ESL Classes: The YWAM location that we visited offers ESL classes that are free to the community. They have some regular and faithful families that come, but the attendance was low, and they were praying for more visitors to come. The girls and I were able to invite some of the neighbors and people in the nearby plaza. The group exploded over the two weeks we were there! This is such a great way for us to serve the community and create open doors to share the Gospel.
Translating: This particular YWAM Team was primarily a “teaching team” where they would go from church to church sharing the Bible and YWAM’s curriculum. I was able to translate for the students and sometimes for more than 2.5 hours at a time. This has been a huge blessing to the team because some of their regular translators were not available, and it can be hard for the teams to find translators.
Outreach Activities: The girls and I had a great time serving during Pancake Breakfast, and I was able to start a Zumba fitness class as an outreach at the community center. The ESL and Zumba classes gave us several opportunities to share the Gospel with visitors.
Paul, do you work under an organization or a local church?
We consider these mission trips as self-planned, spirit-led, and family-directed. We are hoping to do this as frequently as possible as God directs. Each time we visit Mexico we make more wonderful connections with local churches, orphanages, and outreach ministries. This is how we learned about the YWAM needs during our previous trip in December. We are open to helping YWAM in the future again if God directs us to do so. We are thankful for the prayers of the Household of Faith Bible Church, Sanctuary in Him Church, The Assembly Church in Illinois, friends, and family. On our June trip, we met a wonderful family in the park that was open-air-preaching. It was like having instant family, and we hung out and served in the park with them throughout the trip. It is wonderful to have a relaxing and entertaining family vacation. However, we find it much more meaningful and exciting when you allow God to open doors to love, serve, and share His Word with people during vacation. Don’t get me wrong, we have a ton of fun, too.
Caleb, how does the University-Model of schooling allow you to keep up with schoolwork and go on these mission trips?
I would have to say, the teachers are very patient, understanding, and supportive. I would usually do homework in the evening, but really whenever I was free. If I found something difficult or something I couldn't understand, I would email a teacher. Sometimes it became hard to stay on track, but my teachers were so helpful, and I am grateful for their support. They emailed me, checked up on me, made sure I understood everything and prayed for me. Even when I returned from Mexico, their encouragement and aid didn't stop there. They gave me extensions for late work, they helped fill in my notes, they made sure I didn't fall behind, and they were very gracious about what I did and didn't get done. I love going on mission trips and serving other people, but to be able to go on a trip and not have to stress about homework is such a relief. Without my teachers, it would have been very difficult. I am so thankful for their love and support.
Paul, what challenges have you been faced with?
Before going on the trip, a family pastor shared a book with me about missions. One of the areas in the book that spoke to me was about our need and necessity to be completely dependent on God. On a mission trip where you are going to share the Gospel and serve the Lord, it doesn’t take long to come face to face with your inadequacies and weaknesses. God wants us to be completely dependent on him for everything. As far as challenges, I would say that anytime a family is out of their routine, this alone can present some struggles and pitfalls. Sometimes we stayed up too late and didn’t get enough rest. We need to continue to pray to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading and be obedient. As with any family, sometimes there are struggles to overcome, and we just continued to experience God's grace, mercy, and love lavishing over us.
Elizabeth, what are some of your specific prayer requests from your last mission trip?
We are praying for the YWAM team(s) that they would be effective in reaching the local community with the love of Jesus and for their continued protection and safety.
Several people got saved, and we pray that they will find a place of fellowship and grow in their walk with Jesus.
We are praying for several of my family members and friend’s salvation as many seeds were planted.
We are praying for a little toddler boy, Mateo, who we met at the orphanage, and Johnathon at a different orphanage. We would love to adopt these children, but it is not so easy if you’re not a permanent resident of Mexico.
We pray for the homeless individuals we met, that they would know Jesus and find a place of fellowship, work, and a home.
This past year we realized that Mexico was on the top of the list for persecuted Christians. We are praying for God’s protection and favor for Christians in these communities.
One of the pastors in Mexico wants me to translate for a large revival in a stadium this coming November. They also want me to coordinate the event with other churches in Mexico, Chicago, and Idaho. We are praying that God would use us for His glory in this event.
Each time we travel between Puerto Vallarta and Mascotta we pray for safety as the roads are used by the drug cartels. The roads are also very dangerous.
And finally, we are continuing to pray for God's direction and leading in serving in Mexico, and how God may use our children and what that would look like on a continued frequent basis, either part-time or full-time.
Caleb, what do these mission trips mean to you?
It’s incredible to see our family, especially my parents, making an eternal impact on other people’s lives. When we travel, we just pray that God would use us. The need is so great for other people to know Jesus personally as their Lord and Savior.