DALLAS?When Angela Baker walked the aisle during a revival service of First Baptist Church of Dallas, she felt a need to confess her disobedience of failing to follow through with a desire to attend Bible college. The 45-year-old mother of two grown children was given a verse to consider by a member of the singles department.
“She said the Lord put on her heart three times for me the verse in Joel 2:25,” Baker recalled. God’s promise to restore “the years the locusts have eaten” seemed like a mysterious hope. She committed to enrolling at Criswell College the following fall semester in 2000. Now that she’s completed her M.A. in theology, she’ll be traveling to West Africa to prepare for her assignment as an apprentice missionary to an unreached people group.
At the age of 18, Baker had no thought of pursuing biblical studies, much less a life in service to God. “I took a hiatus from church that lasted about nine years. I pursued excessive social pleasures and a college education,” she explained. Realizing now that she was not emotionally ready for college, Baker recalls a time of “questioning everything?my worth, God, life, my country.”
She set out for Germany to study abroad during her sophomore year. A local man whom she had begun dating soon proposed marriage. Hesitant to marry, she traveled to London to obtain an abortion after learning she was pregnant. “God intervened and I returned to the states to live with my sister and brother-in-law in Colorado,” she shared. “I saw my son for three days and then gave him up for adoption.”
She worked her way through school at a local college and met a man with whom she became emotionally and physically involved. Their relationship deteriorated after she gave birth to a daughter. Baker returned to the home of her parents, hoping to get her life back on track while raising her daughter.
At her sister’s urging, Baker began attending church again and over the course of the next 10 years became an active leader. She wanted to attend Bible college, but was encouraged to finish her MBA. “That made practical sense, so I finished the degree.”
She and her daughter relocated once more to Nebraska where her daughter graduated from high school. The prospect of living in a warmer climate prompted Baker to take a job in Dallas in 1998 where she visited First Baptist and eventually enrolled in studies at Criswell College.
An assignment for a personal evangelism course troubled Baker as she read from Matthew 7:21-23. “I realized I could not identify a point of salvation and I began to come under conviction of sin,” she explained. After hearing Professor Alan Street preach a sermon titled ‘You Must Be Born Again,” Baker sought his counsel for the doubt she was experiencing. “I took his advice and began a period of prayer.”
In the midst of battling an illness, Baker devoted herself to prayer, crying out to God for mercy and salvation. “At age 48, God invaded my life and gave me the second birth; I was radically saved” she declared. “Since then my life has changed dramatically. Prior to being saved I had not led one person to the Lord. Now I have seen many respond to the gospel. My prayer life has been transformed into communion. I now have a passion for the lost,” she said, pleased at the opportunity to minister as chaplain for women at a local homeless shelter.
“She is one of the most consistent soul-winners I have ever seen,” noted James Bryant, senior professor of pastoral theology.
Baker has developed a desire for reaching Muslim people after years of conversations with a Muslim co-worker. “She and I talked about faith all the time. I met with her and family members for Bible discussions.” That experience prompted her to study Arabic during an extended visit to her hometown. She sought out an Arabic-speaking congregation upon returning to Texas in order to hear and retain the language.
Listening through a translator, she sensed God speaking to her through the preacher as he repeatedly asked the Fort Worth congregation, “‘Will you be a missionary?'”
Baker took that to heart and joined a group traveling to North Africa.
“I wanted a trip that was all evangelism to a place where the gospel had not been,” she explained. “God gave me two Scripture passages, Romans 15:20-21 and Isaiah 61:1-3. I later learned that the Lord had given two trip leaders each of one of those same two passages. We were amazed and glorified God.” Two new churches were planted as the team of eight people saw 256 people respond in faith.
Street recalled Baker’s journey toward missionary appointment.
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