On Aug. 12, the senior pastor of University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte shared with the congregation his plans to serve in a different mission field. Fourteen years ago, Coye and Sherra Still left their work as Southern Baptist missionaries in South Asia to serve the University Hills church.
Coye and Sherra Still are preparing to leave their Charlotte church for ministry in Africa.
Now the couple plans to leave the strong bond of a healthy church. This time, when the appointment process is complete, they hope to serve in Botswana, Africa, through the International Mission Board (IMB).
“If the IMB approves us, Sherra and I will be serving with the Baptist Convention Seminary of Botswana,” Still said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. “It’s a new seminary that was a vision some leaders in Botswana have had for some time. It’s small but growing.
“The purpose is to train pastors and leaders for churches in Botswana – also to train and mobilize Botswanan believers as missionaries to unreached peoples of Africa and Asia. Evangelism and church planting are still the core task of IMB missionaries, wherever they are serving, so that will also be our primary work in Botswana.”
Still said many missiologists are convinced the next great sending wave of missionaries to unreached and unengaged peoples will be from Africa.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to be part of this wave to help cast vision, train in biblical theology and to send people out as evangelists, church planters and pastors who will have more ready access and cross cultural effectiveness than many of us.”
Still’s first pastorate was in Kentucky when he was a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), where he earned master and doctoral degrees.
After graduation he was called to pastor Sunset Avenue Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., where his father had served in previous years.
“Sunset Avenue became our sending church when God called us to serve through the IMB in Asia,” he said. “We served from 2001 to 2004 as a strategy coordinator in a major city in South Asia, working with church planters. It was a great experience, but we felt God was calling us stateside for the next chapter – however long that would be.”
At that time, University Hills was searching for a pastor and contacted Still while he was living in South Asia.
“We had already planned to return to the states when the church contacted us,” Still explained. “I had to be in Richmond to participate in a church planting conference, so the University Hills search committee arranged to meet with me. They extended an invitation to preach in view of a call when we moved back to North Carolina.”
The church called Still as pastor in May 2004. Charlotte became the new mission field for the couple and their five children. The children are now adults and will not be moving to Botswana with their parents. One son is a doctoral student at SBTS, one lives in Greenville, S.C., and the others live in the Charlotte area. All but one are married.
Reflecting on the family’s ministry in Charlotte, Still said, “It’s been a great experience here. University Hills has loved us so well and encouraged our family in so many ways. We’re going to miss these folks so much, but we are so glad they are going to be our sending church. That’s an honor for us.”
“It is a real privilege to be going on a team with Sherra,” he said. “When we served in South Asia, she excelled as a missionary. I am very confident that as the Lord works through her in our new assignment she will serve faithfully again.”
If the IMB approves the Stills, he will preach his last sermon at University Hills Sept. 16, and they will participate in a “Sending” service Sept. 26 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.
“We are profoundly grateful that God has chosen to give us this opportunity to be part of making Christ known to the nations. He’s been so good to us.”