Seasoned Missionary: Following the call to serve abroad and stateside
Bonnie Ernst Hearon and Tom Hearon
Bonnie Ernst Hearon graduated from UMHB in 1973 and eventually joined the staff of Texas A&M University. She took a group of students on a mission trip to Brazil and felt God nudging her. “It was while I was in Brazil that God really spoke to my heart about being involved in missions for a lifetime. That was really when I felt my calling.”
She completed that year at A&M and went on to seminary, where she met her husband, Tom. “We were both focused on eventually going overseas for mission work,” she said. “We worked for UMHB for four years and then moved to Brazil. After a year of language learning, we focused on university student ministry. That continued for about eight years, and then we went into more direct church planting.”
The Hearons served in Brazil for fourteen years and in Italy for six years. Presently, they are serving immigrant populations in Austin, Texas. “We were contacted by a group that is trying to reach immigrants who have come to what we call gateway cities,” she said. “They are considered gateway cities in that people have come to us but are still very connected to their homes.”
In their present work, they recognize that Christians may want to do something to help immigrant populations, but they don’t know how to begin.
“That’s where we want to help our churches make first steps in ministering to immigrants and presenting the Gospel in a way they can understand,” Hearon said. “Most of them haven’t even heard the story of Jesus. We want to come in at the point of helping churches be able to share the Gospel with immigrant populations and train them to connect with their own people back home, to share what Jesus has done.”
In reflecting on her own journey, Hearon recalls a life-changing moment during her time at UMHB. “When I was a junior in college here, God really got my attention and really showed me that if I gave him everything that I am, he would do some things I couldn’t imagine,” she said. “And that has actually happened. I think when we can take our hands off of our own lives and say, ‘Yes, Lord, I will do whatever you want me to do,’ we will be amazed. We’ll be amazed and join in with his witnesses, and he’ll use it for his eternal purposes.”