Southeast Texas couple seeing gospel fruit after answering God’s call to minister in Zambia

The Peveto family with an aerial view of the NaYiri's palace compound in Nalerigu, Ghana during the 2021 Damba Festival in Nalerigu, Ghana. The annual 3-day event celebrates the cultures of the region's tribes as well as the ancient institution of chieftaincy among the Mamprusi people.

'They were ready to send us'

Three sentences were jotted on the piece of paper a church member handed Nicholas Peveto after a morning worship service in 2011: “The time is short. You need to go. Trust God.”

“Do you know what that means?” the church member asked.

“I know exactly what that means,” Peveto answered. 

God had placed a call on Peveto’s heart to serve as a missionary, but he didn’t know when it would be the right time to go. He had served as an associate pastor of families and missions at First Baptist Church in Spurger for five years, and his wife Alyssa also knew they were to be missionaries.

They just didn’t know when.

“It’s roughly the size of the state of Georgia, and we were the only IMB missionaries here for the longest time.”

The church member God used to nudge the Pevetos that day knew handing over the piece of paper might catch them off guard. Even so, she felt compelled to share with them a message God had put on her heart as she listened to Nicholas promote the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. 

“I still have that in my Bible. I keep that piece of paper,” Alyssa said. 

That afternoon, the young couple went home, ate lunch, and returned to the church to use the internet and start the application process with the International Mission Board. Later, when they announced their call to the church, “No one was shocked,” Nicholas said. “They were ready to send us.” They arrived on the mission field in 2013.

First Baptist Spurger is a small congregation that would not be able to support missionaries financially on its own, but by giving through the Cooperative Program, the church is able to pool its resources with other churches to support the Pevetos. 

The couple serves in Solwezi, a growing city in a remote area of northwestern Zambia. The area had been without a consistent Southern Baptist witness for nearly 30 years, and though it was not unreached or unengaged, it was underdeveloped spiritually, Nicholas said.

“It’s roughly the size of the state of Georgia, and we were the only IMB missionaries here for the longest time,” he said of their province, noting that an IMB Journeyman recently joined them to target the 65% of the population under age 30 with NextGen ministries. Journeymen are short-term missionaries under the age of 30 sent to reach younger generations.

Solwezi’s population has grown to around 300,000 people, Nicholas said. “We have people from around the world coming to Solwezi for copper mines.” 

IMB Photos

In a church they planted last year, a Chilean man and a South African man help with preaching. A German woman and her husband also feel called to serve as missionaries in Zambia, “so our little church is looking at being their sending church,” Nicholas said.

The Pevetos try not to do anything that cannot be replicated by nationals, said Nicholas, a graduate of Southwestern Seminary. Instead, he focuses on training and mentoring. He also writes and translates material when requested and meets with local leaders.

“On Tuesday, I’m going to drive out 130 kilometers to mentor a guy who is the chairman of the association of churches in that area, kind of like a director of missions,” he said. 

Recently, the Pevetos have started digital engagement, using Facebook to reach a different group of people who are more proficient in communicating using their smart phones. A lot of that digital interaction involves answering questions—something Alyssa can do amid her work at home where she homeschools their two children.

In the past, Alyssa has helped local women realize they can be involved in ministering to abuse victims, prisoners, and orphans. “We want to give them the resources and the tools to make that happen,” she said. 

Zambia’s constitution declares it a Christian nation, Alyssa said, so people are open to the gospel message. The difficulty comes in helping them sort through their foggy cultural understanding of Christianity. 

“A benefit of us staying longer is we’ve learned the way they interpret what we’re saying, and now we’re able to share the gospel in a way that connects with their worldview,” Nicholas added. “We’re having a lot more fruit in evangelism now.”

“A benefit of us staying longer is we’ve learned the way they interpret what we’re saying, and now we’re able to share the gospel in a way that connects with their worldview.”

Cole Clark, pastor of First Baptist Spurger, grew up with Nicholas, even attending the same youth group and graduating from the same high school. The church has been energized toward missions because of their partnership with the Pevetos.

For instance, the church prayed for a specific people group the Pevetos were trying to reach. Once that prayer was answered and inroads were made, the church prayed the new believers would be able to find a place to meet corporately. 

“Then that started happening,” Clark said. “They were trying to make some focused discipleship among women and younger people, and that started to work out. Now they’re at the point where they’re trying to call a pastor there.” 

Such experiences let them know that God uses their prayers, the pastor said, just like He used one of their own to nudge the Pevetos across the globe.

TEXAN Correspondent
Erin Roach
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