Before the 100 People Network launched at The Austin Stone, Parker and Trisha were a newly married couple with a heart for mission. Trisha, a filmmaker and actor, and Parker, a photographer, longed to use their art and their talents to advance the kingdom of God, but never did they think that God would call them to full-time mission—to a life in an unfamiliar country and culture. But that’s exactly what He did.
It began when a missionary from Africa visited their Missional Community (MC) and talked about life in his rural village. Although fully engaged in his talk, Parker felt like his message needed visuals to really come to life. His heart was for this missionary to gain more support, to build up his team, both stateside and on location. Trisha and Parker prolonged an unrelated project in Africa to spend time with this missionary and do just that. As Parker edited his final picture, he prayed, “Lord, I hope you bring someone over to help him help these people.” And God answered Parker, more personally than he expected.
Parker and Trisha, up to this point, had never thought they would be the ones overseas. They served missionaries faithfully in prayer and with their resources—always seeking to make disciples as they go along. But something felt unsettled for them. They felt like they could do more. And once the spark of a mission to engage unreached peoples with the gospel became personal to them and caught wind, they fueled forward like a raging fire.
They quickly accepted an invitation to be on mission in Africa, and God affirmed His calling on their lives through their MC, trainings, and community support. Looking back at this time, Trisha reflects that their MC was a vital support for them. The foresight of individuals in their community to send them to training was nothing short of a God-send. This is but one example of how their MC supported them, as there were no such thing as Advocacy Teams when they were commissioned among the first goers from The Austin Stone.
Trisha and Parker spent two challenging years in rural Africa learning the language and culture, adapting to the heat, and missing the simple comforts of civilized life. While on home assignment, fully intending on returning to Africa, they heard devastating news about their village that deemed it unsafe to return to with their kids. As difficult as those two years were for them physically and emotionally, they were invested in their people and were sad to not go back. But they were still committed to taking the gospel to the unengaged, unreached peoples of the world—no matter where that might lead.
Soon after receiving this news, an opportunity was presented through The Austin Stone to join a team in Europe and work with refugees. They decided to accept the invitation to work with unreached people groups in Europe, since they felt no specific calling to a place. However, Trisha prayed secretly for God to open a door to work with their previous missionary training classmates now serving in East Asia. It had been two years since they had any contact with them. The next morning, Parker got an unexpected email from their old missionary training classmate in East Asia telling him of a dream he had about their family that very evening, which prompted an invitation to join them. This was Trisha’s answer to prayer.
In 2009, Trisha, Parker, and their two daughters boarded a plane and went to East Asia. The transition for them was unlike the transitions of some of their new teammates. While others found it difficult to transition to the food, pollution, and location, Trisha cried tears of joy: “Coming from a mud hut in Africa with no running water to a city with a grocery store and indoor plumbing was fabulous!”
Thirteen years later, they joyfully continue to work and make disciples as they go along in East Asia, albeit with hardships unlike anything they had experienced before.
Due to the COVID pandemic, Parker and Trisha missed their home assignment and have not seen friends or family in close to three years. There was a mass exodus and increased security right before the pandemic started, and they too felt the uneasiness of staying versus going back, not knowing if they would be able to return to their ministry. Every person in their community decided to leave, and one by one, Parker drove each of them to the airport. None have been able to return for the past two and a half years. Trisha and Parker have now cleaned out their entire community’s apartments and ship back their belongings in what seems to be a never-ending grieving process. The social landscape of their city has shifted as well—villagers are not allowed to interact with foreigners, which makes it more difficult to travel to and from the rural countryside they have been invested in for the last decade. Their three kids miss their friends. They all miss their community.
Yet through all these circumstances, Parker and Trisha have adjusted, pressed into Jesus through prayer and worship, and continue to make disciples in their local community and business as God places people in their lives.
They have decided to start traveling within the country to find creative ways for their kids to interact with other kids. They meet one-on-one with local men and women weekly. They have English movie nights with local professionals. They partner with a ministry in town that helps disabled kids. They disciple other married couples in the local church. Parker says, “If we make one disciple who will live forever with Jesus, even if we are here for 20 more years and nobody comes to know the Lord, it was worth it.” This is their heartbeat, and so they persevere in their faith.
In the midst of their trials and anxieties and loneliness of this season, Trisha and Parker have been blessed by the generosity of the church and the creative ways partners support them. Seeing the growth in the sending process of The Austin Stone has been a great encouragement as well. From trainings for goers and seminars at the International Field Office, to virtual counseling and Austin Stone Worship music, they often feel lifted up by The Austin Stone. They rely on their Advocacy Team for essential support and care as they commit their lives to making disciples as they go along.
Trisha and Parker had no idea of what God had prepared for them, yet have found more joy than they could have imagined in following and trusting Jesus every step of the way. And for partners considering going overseas themselves, Trisha and Parker say, “Be committed. [You’re] serving the Lord and doing His eternal work in the world unto the least of these. He is worthy.”
May we all find the joy in the invitation to follow Jesus and make disciples as we go along.
Please pray for Parker and Trisha, their family, and their work: