They seemed as settled as settled could be. But God had a plan.
Brad Walker spent 15 years as a Dallas Police Officer; his wife, Leigh, sold backup power equipment for hospitals and data centers. They have three young children, the oldest, 6; the youngest just shy of a year old.
Now the Walkers are headed to New York City for a year of training. Then they’re off to the mission fields in western Europe, destination for many thousands of refugees fleeing their homelands in Africa and the Middle East.
The Walkers say God is leading them that way.
“I think honestly, we may have worked backward a little bit,” Brad said. “We both had a desire to live cross-culturally. But I really didn’t think missions was for me, or for us, and that was based mostly on the fact that I thought it was a job for a super-Christian, with a more theological background, theological chops.
“God changed our minds about that.”
Brad and Leah Walker and their children are among our many “long-term goers” serving as missionaries throughout the world.
Brad has been a member of Prestonwood Baptist Church since 2006 and Leigh a few years longer. They were settled in, comfortable, with family nearby. Then they took the Perspectives class offered by the Missions Ministry and their worldview began to change.
“I grew up in the church; my parents are strong believers. So I called my mom and said, ‘Hey, Mom, I’m taking this class on missions and I think God is calling me to that.’
“And she said, ‘There are a lot of things you can do for God around Dallas.’ I can understand that,” he said. “It’s like when you’re in law enforcement: moms and wives support you, but they’re really happy if you’re doing something else.”
Leigh’s family is from southern Oklahoma—strong Christians and very supportive of the family.
“They’re a lot like my parents,” Brad said. “They had a little trepidation when we told them we’d be uprooting (the family) and working in the mission field. But it’s helpful that Europe is reachable for them.”
Exactly where in Europe, though, remains a question.
“At this point, we’re not really sure where we’ll be,” Brad said. “The mission we’ve kind of seen is working with the Muslim immigrant population, and there are obviously quite a few places where that could be. So we’ve talked with (mission) teams from all over Europe to see where God wants us.
“That’s the vision we saw—the opportunity God created by moving these giant groups of people into Europe. And we have the opportunity to live life beside them.”
The Walkers and several other missionaries from Prestonwood were commissioned by the church during a recent First Wednesday service. In all, Prestonwood has more than a dozen “long-term goers” working in the mission fields around the world.
Ryan Roberts, who works in missions on the long-term mobilization team, said the first of the young missionaries have already left, and the others are in final stages of preparation. Except for the Walkers, the other missionaries are expected to be working in Africa and Asia by the end of 2017, Ryan said.
All of the young missionaries are members of Prestonwood, he said, and several went through Perspectives.
“Perspectives is a class that talks about God’s heart for the world and walks through God’s purpose in the world,” Ryan said. “We walk through the biblical basis of why we care about the nations. For most who take the class, it just helps them have an understanding of God’s purpose. It isn’t intended for long-term goers. But many long-term goers find (their need to serve as missionaries) in that class.”
For those who choose that path, Ryan said, Prestonwood provides nine months of training before sending its missionaries into the field.
Perspectives, a class offered by our Missions Ministry, changed the Walkers’ worldview, leading them to serve as missionaries.
Brad Walker was in Perspectives when thousands of refugees fled their homelands in Africa and the Middle East for what they hoped would be a far less dangerous life in Europe and other places.
“And I was thinking, ‘Hey, here’s a great opportunity God has presented to us!’” Brad said. “As we started working through it and praying about it, we both wanted to feel we were totally open to whatever God wanted for us.
“And as we did that, we saw that this was His plan and it was what He laid on our hearts. You trust Him and He takes care of you. It’s kind of one of those moments when God says, ‘I’ve got you.’”
So that’s the Walkers’ focus, living life with these refugees in either the United Kingdom or mainland Western Europe, building strong relationships with them.
“We just want to be wherever God wants us,” Brad said. “If that means staying overseas long-term, if that’s where we are for the next half of the game, we’re good with that.
“This is the next career, the next job, the next mission, and we’ll do that until God tells us He has something else for us to do.”