There’s a young woman from Springhill Baptist Church in Greenbrier, Arkansas whose missions legacy runs deep through the BMA. Her name is Hannah Tilley, and throughout her family’s generations, there have been pastors, a BMA Missions director, a president of Central Baptist College, and she, herself, is a short-term medical missionary.
It began with her great-grandfather, W.J. Burgess, the first ever BMA Missions executive director.
“He helped start the Missions part of the BMA and how it relates to all the churches,” said Tilley. “He would write letters to missionaries all over the world.”
The legacy that W.J. Burgess left for his family is still being realized today. In fact, in the summer of 2017, Tilley went on a short-term missions trip to Cape Verde, Africa with a Volunteer Student Missions (VSM) team. While in Cape Verde, a local lady remembered Hannah’s great-grandfather because he was the one who helped begin the BMA’s ministry on that island. That local woman’s father was the pastor of the Cape Verdean church, and her father would communicate with Burgess about the missions effort. Half a world away, never having met before that trip, Tilley was able to personally experience the scope of her great-grandfather’s legacy.
“I got to go to the church and pray for them,” explained Tilley. “Some of them [Cape Verdean believers] recognized who my family was. It was really neat.”
Because W.J. Burgess was so heavily involved in the BMA, his children would naturally be immersed in ministry. His son, Wassel Burgess, ended up being the President of Central Baptist College, and was also the Pastor of Springhill Baptist Church, where Tilley’s family continues to worship together.
God first moved Hannah’s heart toward missions at DiscipleGuide’s annual student conference – SOAR.
“I first got involved with missions at SOAR 2015,” said Tilley. “They were talking about being selfless and surrendering your life to Christ. I felt called to go and help people because I’m very blessed. I felt almost guilty when I saw the little starving kids – I knew I needed to help them.”
So during that year’s SOAR conference, Tilley talked to Angela Rice, the VSM director, and signed up to go on a missions trip. Originally she was assigned to Panama, but through God’s intervention she ended up going on the trip to Peru. This first VSM trip would forever change her life.
She stayed for two weeks in Peru with the Poulin family, and during the second week she worked with Baptist Medical Missions International (BMMI). Tilley is working toward becoming a Physician’s Assistant, so medical missions is where she truly found her niche.
“The week after I got back, I put down my deposit to go back again,” shared Tilley. “I went to Peru for another two weeks the following summer, and it was great. This past summer I went to Cape Verde in May and Peru in July. It was the best summer of my whole life.”
She will to go to Peru next summer with a medical team, and also travel back to Peru to hand out Christmas Shoeboxes in the winter. For the future, Hannah Tilley hopes to someday lead medical mission trips for the BMA, as well as work with the Children’s Hospital.
“The Lord may do something else, but that’s what I feel like I’m going to do for right now!” Tilley concluded.
The BMA has a rich history of world changers just like the Burgess/Tilley family. These world changers are molded, shaped, and discipled in local churches, like Springhill Baptist Church.
At DiscipleGuide, our goal is to help churches maximize their Great Commission potential.
This holiday season, we want to invite you to participate in our World’s Largest Potluck offering, to help DiscipleGuide continue to invest in students like Hannah as they obey Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations.
Will you join us? Visit discipleguide.org/potluck to register.