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BPC is host to first missionaries-in-residence

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

Douglas McHenry's two years as a student at Brewton-Parker College and his return to the Mount Vernon campus 30 years later, along with his wife as the college's first missionaries-in-residence, are part of what he said was a blank check he issued to God as a teenager.

Rebecca and Douglas McHenry (from far right), missionaries-in-residence at Brewton-Parker College for 2004-05, visit with Brewton-Parker sophomore Kara Mixon (far left) of Lyons and junior Jerrell Asberry of Vidalia during a break in the Phillips Student Center on the Mount Vernon campus.

Douglas and Rebecca McHenry began their stateside assignment at Brewton-Parker in August after spending the past six years in Kingston, Jamaica. Following their year on campus, the McHenrys will return to the Caribbean to serve as church planters on the island of St. Lucia.

Dr. John Waters, Brewton-Parker's vice president for enrollment services, said the purpose of the college's missionary-in-residence program is to give the students, faculty, staff and churches in the area exposure to worldwide missions.

"It is also purposed to provide opportunities for support, training and enrichment to missionaries on stateside assignments and their families," Waters added. "We anticipate that the McHenrys will become an integral part of the college community, and that this experience will enhance both the academic community as well as their family."

The McHenrys were raised in different states but both in mission-minded churches.

The former Rebecca Holland of Rome, Ga., grew up in Fellowship Baptist Church of Rome, where she accepted her call to mission service. She attended LaGrange College, where she was a roommate with Sherrie Thompson Helms, Brewton-Parker's dean of students.

As a youth, Douglas McHenry was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., which had produced 25 missionaries over the years and also was the home church of Hildegard Stanley, the renowned longtime music division dean at Brewton-Parker who retired as the college's first distinguished professor in 2001.

"At 17, while attending the Falls Creek Baptist Assembly in Oklahoma, I felt God calling me to full-time Christian service, where God said, 'Make the check payable to Me and I will fill in the amount later," Douglas said.

He eventually felt a call to music ministry, and Stanley used her home-church connection to bring young Douglas McHenry to Brewton-Parker in 1972.

"She was instrumental in offering me a scholarship sufficient enough for me to go to school, and that is how I met her," said Douglas, who worked as a minister of music at First Baptist Church in McRae -- the same body that, in the early 20th century, brought together two of the college's founding fathers, Dr. John C. Brewton the pastor and local businessman Charles B. Parker.

"We fought like cats and dogs my first year. I could be difficult but she loved me anyway, and her love changed me," said Douglas, who later worked as a minister of music at First Baptist Church in Glennville and at Saxon Heights Baptist Church in Dublin while he finished at Brewton-Parker. "Hildegard Stanley was a key person in transforming my life."

He added that Dr. Ted Phillips, the college's president at the time, was the Glennville church's interim pastor, and that they would often commute together. Douglas also said it was the first church in which someone told him that he would be a preacher.

Following his graduation from Brewton-Parker in 1974 with an associate degree in music, Douglas transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University. He worked toward earning his bachelor's degree for two years before he had to return to the workforce.

He gained a full-time position at Summerville Baptist Church in Phenix City, Ala., where one Sunday, Rebecca was visiting her brother and wife. They were married in April 1977. Their oldest daughter, Shaunacy, was born in February 1978.

Douglas eventually earned his bachelor's degree in church music from OBU in January 1982 and began taking extension courses at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on the OBU campus while working at area churches.

Douglas entered SWBTS' communication program in 1983, and the young family relocated to Fort Worth, Texas. While there, the McHenrys had a second daughter, Sharon, born in 1985. Douglas completed his master's course work in 1989.

The McHenrys then moved to Gainesville, Fla., where Douglas was the University of Florida's coordinator of broadcasting. He worked in developing the university's distance-learning courses, the first satellite-delivered classes offered in the nation.

Still feeling a call to missions, but with Shaunacy too old for them to accept an appointment, the McHenrys made their first volunteer mission trip to the Caribbean and worked at a youth camp in Barbados. "I heard God's voice saying, 'You'll be back here,' and we began to sense that this was home," Douglas said of the Caribbean.

The McHenrys gained appointment by the International Mission Board in 1995 and spent their first three years with Caribbean Christian Publications based in Hollywood, Fla., the base for Caribbean mission services.

Still, with that blank check to God open, Douglas survived a scare with a tumor that proved to be benign and answered a call to preach and was an interim pastor for all but five Sundays in a two-year period.

The McHenrys, however, wanted to directly minister to people in the Caribbean field and transferred to Jamaica, where they spent the next six years in the ministries of publications, church development, Sunday school training. They also helped local churches plant new churches through Jamaica Baptist Union and trained others to do so, as Douglas said, "we worked ourselves out of a job."

While leaving their adopted Caribbean home was difficult, it was made even more so with the rash of hurricanes that ravaged the island during the McHenrys' first month back in Georgia.

However, fallen trees damaged their house during Hurricane Ivan in September, leaving them with a sense of blessing in disguise.

The McHenrys are using their missionary-in-residence opportunity to prepare for their next assignment in St. Lucia by taking French courses offered through Brewton-Parker's Arts and Letters Division. Douglas said learning French will give him and Rebecca a better understanding of the natives' Creole dialect.

In the spring, the McHenrys will be teaching a course at Brewton-Parker on cross-cultural ministry. "We will be examining and dealing with ministering across cultural lines and show students how they may have to cross cultural borders in order to minister effectively," Douglas said.

Daughter Sharon is a freshman in Brewton-Parker's Music Division, a choice Rebecca said was made after Sharon made an extensive search for the right complementing program.

"We are here at Brewton-Parker to interact with students and raise awareness of missions,"
Douglas McHenry said. "Whatever skills and education a person has are tools in God's hands and can be used to change the world, whether that is in Baxley or Brazil."


Brewton-Parker College News & Information
Brewton-Parker College | Located on U.S. 280 at 201 David-Eliza Fountain Circle, P. O. Box 197, Mount Vernon, GA 30445
with a site in Newnan
912-583-2241, 1-800-342-1087
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The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.
Brewton-Parker College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Brewton-Parker College.
Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM