A Sidewalk Encounter that Led to Missions

God raised up a missionary couple after they briefly met each other while crossing Liberty’s campus.

From Message magazine issue "2020 Candidate Issue"

“You see that girl,” Austin commented to his friend as Kaleigh strode across the room. “I’m going to marry her.”

Unfortunately, despite his confidence, Austin didn’t get the chance to meet Kaleigh that night. But, by the Lord’s providence, the pair happened to cross paths one day on the sidewalk at Liberty University. Knowing that he might not have another opportunity like this—as over 15,000 students populate Liberty’s campus—Austin quickly introduced himself and exchanged numbers. They were married 16 months later.

In Austin and Kaleigh, God had brought together two servants with strikingly similar faith journeys. Both grew up in Christian families and were saved at young ages, wrestled with secret sin into high school and felt unworthy due to an unbiblical fixation on good deeds, and were freed from their bondage when they confessed their struggles to trusted Christians and surrendered their lives to the grace found in Jesus. And both attended Liberty in the hopes of entering ministry following graduation.

But there remained one major difference—their attitudes toward overseas missions.

Kaleigh went on her first missions trip to Mexico when she was in middle school and continued to participate in ministry to South America throughout high school and college. In 2011, she combined her passions for missions and education by helping Christian Peruvians learn English so that they could translate for American missionaries. And although Austin would happily serve wherever the Lord called them, he thought it would be stateside.

However, during Liberty’s Missions Emphasis Week, they were presented with an opening from ABWE missionaries to serve as teachers at the Santiago Christian Academy (SCA) in Chile. Equipped with graduate degrees in teaching Bible and other subjects, Austin and Kaleigh knew an irrefusable offer had been set in their laps. Since 2016, they have been serving at SCA and in youth ministry at local churches.

By 2023, they hope to return to Chile and continue their roles of teaching and discipling a younger generation of Chilean believers.

Learn more about the Bowdens’ ministry here.

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