By Allen Palmeri
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario—Joan Dotson, president of the Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union, came with her husband, Bill, Aug. 2-6 to be a part of the Twin Rivers Baptist Association mission team to Canada.
Members of First Baptist Church, Lake St. Louis, the Dotsons are veteran short-term missionaries who added a sense of stability to the outreach. Their confidence on the mission field was built, in part, by three successful trips to the bush country of Mali in 2008 and 2009. Their intrepid spirits on the associational vision trip were contagious.
“We represent several different churches, so that’s a good thing,” Joan Dotson said. “We can go back and talk it up in our home church. It isn’t that hard to be able to go to Canada. Yes, you do need a passport, and that takes a little initiative if you don’t have one, but other than that, you don’t have to have any shots, you don’t have to get a visa. It’s really easier to come. It’s not that far away, so it’s not as expensive. There are a lot of plusses to being able to come here as to going to Mali.”
Bill Dotson got out on the streets of Sault Ste. Marie and came back saying, “I think there’s great room for a work here.” He pointed to an area of the city and spoke about what he discovered.
“I talked to a man over there who is a native of Scotland,” he said. “He was doing a repair job on a house. His partner was a native Canadian, and they agreed—that neighborhood over there needs a church.”
Having been on mission to the Sault, the Dotsons are now engaged even more in the top-priority work of praying for a Canadian National Baptist Convention church planter to commit to the city. The association has already voted to support that man when he comes on the scene.
Both Bill and Joan agree that if short-term missionaries are able to visit Canada three times like they have been able to do in Mali, God will honor that. The ideal situation would be for volunteers to help the pastor get out door hangings or run an activity in a park to draw a big crowd. As it stands now, the kids festival with the train and free popcorn drew a few people in August, which was a start.
“If you had this going on in Mali, you’d pull a crowd you couldn’t count, right off the street,” Bill Dotson said.
Joan Dotson noted that the method was OK in a pioneering-type of situation where it was hard to come up with anything that would gain Gospel traction.
“I think it points out the fact that we need to be creative about how we reach people,” she said. “When we were kids, this would draw a lot of kids to it, where now, parents are hesitant, and they’re protective of their kids, and that makes a difference.
“We have had to be creative.”