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