Advance Magazine
Summer 2023

Image Bearers

The snowflakes taped to Mark and Amanda's living room wall served as more than decorations. 

Each snowflake bore the name of a street in Mark and Amanda Wilson's* Boston neighborhood. Every night during January, the Wilson family pulled off a snowflake and prayed that the gospel would speed ahead and be honored in the lives of those they knew on that street. Nearly every night, to the amazement of their sons, Kyle and Noah, Mark and Amanda told how God brought opportunities to connect to the very people they had prayed for.

There was a time in Mark and Amanda’s lives that neither would have sought nor cultivated relationships so intentionally. During Amanda's years in the workforce, she was intimidated at the thought of developing deeper relationships with coworkers. Even as a pastor in New Hampshire, Mark avoided homeless people because of how they might use the money given to them.

It was an internship in Boston with BMM missionaries Bill and Deb Edmondson that challenged their ideas about relationship-building and evangelism. The Edmondsons emphasized that all people are God’s image bearers. Mark and Amanda began seeing unsaved individuals as persons of inestimable value and not primarily as prospects for conversion.

* Names have been changed.

Seeing people through God’s lens has resulted in far more individuals being open to hear the gospel. But it does take time and care. When Kyle and Noah were toddlers, Amanda began taking them to the library and purposefully greeting the staff members. Both she and Mark make a point to ask people how they are doing and to build connections through common interests like plants, cooking, and dogs. 

Recently, a person they met through the library sought out Amanda: “I’m so glad; I was hoping one of you would come by.” She explained how her sister had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and asked if the Wilson’s church (where Mark is the missionary pastor) would pray for her. Amanda was honored to say yes, and the woman replied, “I knew you would pray and care about this.” Mark and Amanda say that relationships like this come about through deliberate prayer and compassionate interest in people’s lives. 

“Be super intentional about praying regularly. The Lord enjoys when we’re being obedient to Him,” says Mark. “Inevitably something will happen the day that we pray—either we see the person or have a conversation with them. It is exciting to see the Lord help us connect with our neighbors in ways we couldn’t have imagined in response to intentional prayer for them.”

“I can’t try to provoke or push too hard because that shuts the door pretty quickly. If I’m getting to know them authentically, the Lord opens those opportunities without us getting stressed about what to say or do.”


It is beautiful how the relationships turn into two-way streets. In January, Mark had hip replacement surgery. The library staff sent him a get-well card. And a neighbor stopped by to drop off a cake and bag of coffee, giving Amanda opportunities to tell him how God was caring for their family. Mark and Amanda both cried together and praised God for an opening to talk about the Lord with this not-yet-believing neighbor. 

Amanda says, “Sometimes it’s surprising that we’ll have someone we’ve talked with for a long time and all of a sudden they’ll open up and the door is wide open. I can’t try to provoke or push too hard because that shuts the door pretty quickly. If I’m getting to know them authentically, the Lord opens those opportunities without us getting stressed about what to say or do.” 

During Mark's recovery from surgery, their neighbor built a platform for their couch, making it easier for Mark to sit down. The neighbor refused payment for his labor, seeing it instead as a returned kindness for the ways the Wilson's have helped him through the years. He has attended several events at church, and he even recommends the church to others in the neighborhood. 

Mark and Amanda no longer see evangelism as an intimidating, pressure-filled pursuit: “There is a joy that comes from obeying God and intentionally showing His love. That joy is very satisfying, and we want more. It becomes a motivator and inspiration for doing more when you see God working through others’ lives.” Their mentor Bill Edmondson once said, “Can you imagine if everyone felt this way and did something about it?”

Related Pages

Sum23 Path2 Christ TN
The Path to Find Christ

Hikers on Spain’s Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route are on a spiritual journey of one kind or another. Our Spain missionaries regularly walk with them on their physical path so they can point them to the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ.

Sum23 Walter Korea Walter TN

A chance meeting in a store led a Korean War veteran toward Jesus.

Sum23 Big Fish TN
Don’t Miss the Big Fish

The critical role of church guest services

Continue browsing

Your cart is empty.

Browse missionaries and projects.

Choose an amount:

Between $5 and $250,000