Motivation for Missions – Journal
Alumnus who has made Ukraine his home for many years mobilizes missions for IMB in Eastern Europe
Mick Stockwell (’82) learned how to bring a vision to life as a student at Liberty University and has now spent the past 28 years working with missionary partners in Eastern Europe and beyond to make the gospel light in some of the darkest places. , including during the current difficulties in Ukraine.
As he battled injuries during his senior year of high school football in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stockwell recalled that he had no real direction or idea of what to pursue outside of it. from the grill. It was then that her older brother David, an evangelist, told her about a new college in Lynchburg, Virginia.
“I grew up in a family of footballers; my dad was a high-achieving coach and then a high school principal. He died when I was a sophomore in high school, and I was just… lost,” Stockwell said. “Then my brother called me and said, ‘I just spoke in a chapel at this new school called Liberty Baptist College. They have a football program and they’re on fire for Jesus.'”
Stockwell sent a few films and was offered a scholarship to join the upstart Flames Football program in its fourth year. In the fall of 1976, he moved to Treasure Island, a renovated church camp on the James River that served as student housing and also a sports facility. While he joked that the place wasn’t very nice, Stockwell said he quickly bought into the vision of the university and its founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell.
“When I first came to the football team, my first day was helping a coach build and paint spaces to create a makeshift dressing room on the island,” he said. “Being able to come in and take a kids’ camp and turn it into a football facility, live in substandard facilities, but do it all with a vision in mind…that’s what we agreed to do.”
“I don’t know if I had the vision to see exactly what Liberty University has become because no one had seen anything like it, but I saw the goals,” he added. “I went up Liberty Mountain and was there for some of these famous TV shows when there was nothing there (on earth), but we could see it. In my freshman year, I was in the first group to live in the Liberty Mountain dorms, and I was in the very first Liberty Mountain class at 8am on a Monday.
The university’s humble beginnings and phenomenal growth were a motivation for its own work in Eastern Europe. Stockwell is currently the European Globalization Strategist for the International Mission Board (IMB).
“Being in the middle of (Liberty) starting in a (humble) place and then having it move up the mountain and watching the vision come to fruition, that has a lot of parallels to what we do with missions,” Stockwell says. “Watching Jerry Falwell and my teachers believe in something, take what they had and improve on it, helped me see how to work towards a vision and a goal.”
Stockwell’s call for missions came during a chapel message to Liberty by Vernon Brewer (’74), Liberty’s first graduate and the founder and president of World Help. Stockwell learned that most of the world’s educated ministers at the time served in the Western world. But growing up in the generation that constantly heard of the Soviet Union’s struggles, Stockwell developed a passion for reaching out to those in the East.
“Since my childhood I have heard the testimonies of Russian-speaking immigrants who came out of the Soviet Union, I learned to hide under my desk at school in the event of nuclear war, and all the other things,” said he declared. . “I also read a few books about men who had come from behind the Iron Curtain and been persecuted for their faith there, and I learned all about people who had died for their faith and who didn’t couldn’t even have and read a Bible.. It put a real burden on my heart for the Soviet Union.
Stockwell studied business administration but used every elective slot remains to take courses on missionary work.
While working on the staff of a church in Northwest Houston after graduation, he was able to visit the untouched Soviet Union for an evangelistic rally in one of the capitals, Kishinev Moldova. , in 1990. He was inspired to work there and joined IMB a couple. years later.
Stockwell, his wife, Dalese, and their three sons moved to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, in 1994 to begin serving the country’s large Baptist community and planting churches in an environment he says is a mission field. unusual.
“People tend to think missionaries go to the jungle and live in mud huts or are in Range Rovers, but we were doing our work in a concrete jungle,” he said. “The Ukrainian people were broken and bankrupt, and they knew they needed something. We went to a place that was falling apart, and the people there were frustrated because they found out they had grown up lying (because of communist propaganda).
“Watching Jerry Falwell and my teachers believe in something, take what they had and improve on it, helped me see how to work towards a vision and a goal.”
— Mick Stockwell
Stockwell was soon asked to oversee IMB’s work in satellite countries formerly under the Soviet Union, and he spent 15 years living in Kyiv and Kharkiv with seven to eight countries served at a time.
In his current role, Stockwell identifies and mobilizes missionary partners to support ongoing work in countries of the former Soviet Union and beyond, to Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, India, Thailand, in Nepal and Papua New Guinea.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 shifted much of Stockwell’s focus to helping refugees – some of whom are its long-time partners – and continuing to support the Ukrainian Baptist Union despite funding difficulties.
“All of our people have been moved out of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus,” he said. “It is important to note that our missionaries are also refugees. They had to leave in a hurry with two suitcases each and didn’t know what was going to happen next.
“I have very dear friends in Russia with whom I am still very involved, and it is hard for them too,” he added. “We cannot bring the money legally into Russia, so we are not able to financially support our mission partners there. These people are also innocent because their country is caught in a war that they cannot control.
Stockwell was able to help its partners through IMB’s Send Relief program, which deploys teams and provides grants to help care for people in the aftermath of natural disasters or other crises. Stockwell has worked at the executive level securing grants for partners in Romania and Moldova, but he has also traveled directly to the borders.
In April, he joined IMB President Paul Chitwood at the Polish and Romanian borders to speak with refugees and churches at a station providing information on services and ways for refugees to hear or to read the Gospel in their language. While in Romania, the Ukrainian city from Mariupol was particularly affected. About 300 people were killed in a children’s theater. About a week later, while standing at the IMB Visitor Center, Stockwell and Chitwood were approached by a woman who had been an actress on the theater crew.
“She said she knew a lot of people who died and she said, “These aren’t things I’ve heard of, these are things I’ve seen with my own eyes,” Stockwell said. “She also told us how bullets were hitting the cars and they drove off, with the women and children in the car screaming.”
Although he was unable to enter Ukraine, Stockwell said he saw and felt the damage done to his former home. He received a video from a friend in Ukraine which shows the friend having dinner in his kitchen just before a shell went through the roof and exploded in the next room. Another video, which he saw circulating on the news, shows an obscured view of the Kharkiv region state administration building as a massive fireball from a missile erupted in front of it.
“I sat in this same room last November and ate in this kitchen several times,” Stockwell said. “These are people with whom I raised my children, with whom I went on vacation, with whom we now go to the end of the world. (The building of the state administration of the Kharkiv region) is is in Liberty Square, and that’s where I used to rollerblade with my boys when they were kids, and it’s only a few hundred meters from the apartment where we raised our kids. is real to us.
The Russian-speaking church Stockwell attends in the Czech Republic has also opened its doors to refugees, and he and his wife have worked in hostels and hotels to help mothers and children. One of the church pastors counts up to 20 refugees living in his small house.
“I believe that through the way I had grown up thinking and praying for (Eastern Europe), the way God had put it on my heart and how I had gone on this missionary journey back in 1990, I knew that was the place for me,” Stockwell said. “I knew that deep in my heart at the time, and I feel like God gave me a unique gift for that. In the years that followed, I saw the Lord move. I have seen him use my mission partners (and myself), connect us with those who need help most, and allow us to serve him by serving them.