When God calls someone to serve in ministry, they are often unaware of the various challenges and blessings involved with evangelism and discipleship. For Josh (Evangelism ’07, M.Div. ’10) and Rebecca (Nursing ’08) Florence, God has used their time on the mission field to expand their vision of what true ministry encompasses. Together, they have served as church planting missionaries in Papua New Guinea since 2014, spending their first year there with missionaries John and Selina Allen.
After hearing powerful messages from her home church, a 12-year-old Rebecca surrendered her life to the Lord. She wanted to be a nurse on the mission field but chose to trust God with her desire and wait on His timing instead. When considering colleges, Rebecca gravitated toward PCC because of the quality of its nursing training at an affordable price. “Though it was far from home, my mom encouraged me to check it out. The Lord then confirmed that was the path I should choose, and I followed,” she said. “My time at PCC continued to influence my desire to be involved in full-time ministry and missions.”
Josh, who attended an Abeka Christian school, felt familiar with the College’s curriculum. Later, God confirmed His leading to attend the College. While attending, his desire to serve in ministry grew. He wanted God to use him to do incredible work for His glory. “I heard Evangelist Bill Rice III say if you want to know God’s will, ‘Brush your teeth.’ In other words, he was saying to do whatever I know that I am supposed to do that day and that God would use those little things over time to lead me in the right direction,” he explained. “We need to surrender our talents and gifts, our families, our futures, and whatever else that seems dearest to us in order that we might be used for His glory.”
“I learned much from my time at PCC,” Josh continued. “Classes were not the only way I learned—there was a lot of character development as well as leadership principles that I learned. Within one year of graduating with my M.Div., I was thankful for taking the extra time to get it. I was busy traveling over 20 hours a week and preaching many times a week. This heavy workload has never slowed down, and I am thankful I took the time to get the extra degree while I could.”
With Rebecca’s support, Josh pastors Berean Baptist Church in Kiunga, Western Province, and leads evangelistic outreaches to the community, such as preaching in the town market, local military post, hospital, and public schools. He’s also acting as director of the Western Baptist Bible School, where he oversees the school, teaches classes, manages, and helps build campus buildings.
“Church planting missionaries often go to the field expecting to plant their first church in the first few years of their ministry. Well, it takes more time than that to evangelize, train some qualified and called men, and work with them in beginning a church plant,” said Josh. “Berean Baptist Church was birthed in January 2021, after we had assisted another independent Baptist church for three years, obtained about 13 acres of land on which to build a Bible school, and began the Bible school classes back in 2016.”
“It has been a delight to see some of those young men get born-again through their response of faith to the preached Word of God and to then watch the Spirit’s sanctifying work in their hearts,” said Rebecca. “Two of those first students are faithfully serving the Lord in their village after beginning a fellowship under their house when we went back to the U.S. on furlough in 2019.”
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.
– 2 Corinthians 2:14–16a
While aiding her husband’s ministry, Rebecca also homeschools their four children and uses her training in nursing to research various tropical diseases, their symptoms, and treat other issues as they have come up. “Though I am not currently working in the nursing profession here on the field since my children are young, I have used the knowledge base and assessment skills I was extensively trained in at PCC in caring for my family’s bouts of malaria, boils, pneumonia, and parasites,” said Rebecca. “The Lord has also provided other opportunities to minister to others through basic medicine. One day I plan to obtain my Papua New Guinea nursing license so that I can assist my husband in village medical outreach as well as provide basic first-aid training for our Bible school students.”
Currently, the Florences are busy building up different areas of the ministry, including completing a two-story dormitory for the Bible school. “The next projects include getting power [from town] out to the property and building our own permanent house, as well as married student housing,” said Josh. “Between building projects, we continue to have classes, minister to the body of Christ, and hold evangelistic outreaches in town as well as along the river.”
As their ministry continues, both Josh and Rebecca Florence hope to see others use their talents and calling for Christ. “I used to be one of those that held missionaries on a pedestal, thinking that missions was the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great King. Then God called my husband and me to go, and we have learned ever since that God desires the surrendered heart of all of His children in His high calling of reaching the lost no matter where or in what field that may be. God gives us all different gifts and abilities to be used in the body of Christ. Use them for His glory!” said Rebecca. “There is no greater joy than to see people come to a saving and growing knowledge of Christ.”
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