Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 23, 2012

Autumn Chambers Pittman of Florala stands at the equator, with the world in her hand and straddling two hemispheres. | Courtesy photo

For seven Covington County residents, a recent mission trip to Ecuador was an opportunity to share God’s word, but for a Florala woman in the group, it was an experience she’ll never forget.

Sponsored by the Covington Baptist Association, the group consisted of Wendell Ray of the CBA; Eugene Meadows, Red Oak; Billy and Wanda Barnes, Bethany; Leigh Newby, Pleasant Home Baptist; Carrie Fore, Hopewell; and Autumn Chambers Pittman, Lockhart.

The group performed a prayer walk and evangelism mission in the area known as Guano. It was Pittman’s first mission trip ever.

“(Ray) came and spoke at our church’s Awana group about missions and the work that the Covington Baptist Association does,” Pittman said. “He’s been on many trips, and it was something that I had always dreamed of doing. And believe it or not, it worked out that I could go, and it was an amazing experience.”

Pittman, a registered nurse at Florala Memorial Hospital, described the June trip as “eye opening.”

“The (CBA) does all sorts of mission trips – medical, construction – but ours was a prayer walk,” she said. “And boy, did we do a lot of walking. We met people on the street, went into their business and asked them if we could pray for them, if they had any special needs.

“We asked if they knew the Lord as their savior, and if they didn’t, we talked to them about that,” she said. “We had six people saved during the trip. It was amazing to see.”

Pittman said the group met Covington County natives and CBA missionaries Johnny and Donna Maust, who have lived in Ecuador for the last 13 years. Pittman said unbeknownst to her at the time, Maust played an important role in her decision to participate in the trip.

“At church, we get these books called ‘Open Windows,’” she said. “Before I left, I prayed if I should go or not, and I was talking with Donna, and she told me about writing for ‘Open Windows.’ She said she wasn’t sure if I noticed, but she had written several things about Ecuador.

“I told her, ‘That’s so weird. When I was trying to decide about going, I was reading these stories in ‘Open Window’ about Ecuador,’” she said. “I finally decided it was what God wanted me to do, and then I go, and here’s the woman who wrote them. I knew then I was right where I needed to be – for whatever reason.”

Ray, who spoke Friday from a mission trip in New York, said the CBA hosts a variety of mission opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad.

“We’re always looking for those who are flexible in their schedule; people who have a concern for people who are less fortunate more often than we are; people who want people in other areas to have the opportunity to hear the message of the gospel and the Bible,” he said.

Those interested should contact the Covington Baptist Association.

Pittman said while abroad, the group did have time to do some sightseeing and shopping.

“It was my first trip outside the U.S.,” she said. “It was indescribable and very exciting. I’m blessed to have met so many people, and seeing the way they live makes you realize how blessed we are to live in the U.S.”