August 14, 2019

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”  1 Timothy 6:6

Jeremiah Burroughs, a well-known Puritan preacher from the 1600s, once described contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

It is a description that reflects Donna Messenger’s (’78) life message as a godly testimony to those who know her and have been blessed by her ministry the last 40 years.

Donna was born in Johnson City, New York, and knew from a very young age that she wanted to go into missions. She committed her life to Christ specifically for missions as a teenager and chose to attend Faith Baptist Bible College after her graduation from high school in Plymouth, Indiana. She majored in Christian Education at Faith and became close friends with many of the Missionary Kids (MKs) on campus.

“I came to Faith intending to teach MKs overseas, so I was drawn to them and learned a lot from them about missionary life,” said Donna. “I’m not sure if they know what an impact they had on my life.”

After moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to work at Grand Rapids Baptist College (now Cornerstone University), Donna’s dream of working in missions was not fulfilled as quickly as she had always dreamed, nor in the manner she envisioned.

“When I share my testimony, I talk about the ‘when’ being just as important as the ‘what’ or the ‘where,’” said Donna. “I fully anticipated marrying a missionary and going to the mission field right out of college, but that is not the way God wrote my story.”

While at Grand Rapids Baptist College, Donna worked in a Christian school, in publishing, and then in student development. It wasn’t until 16 years after she graduated from Faith that God finally led her to the missions field in Ukraine with ABWE. After working there for nearly a decade, she returned to the United States to work in their home office as director of publications and editor of the Message magazine.

She hoped to return to the mission field in 2007, but God had other plans for Donna. She joined Barnabas International in Titusville, Florida in 2008, where she has worked with MKs and missionary families for over ten years.

“Life is a constant process of learning to trust God more and more,” said Donna. “It seems like He is always working on something in my life that He uses to draw me closer to Him. Part of that includes accepting the life He gives and not complaining about the life you wanted (the husband and family). While I would have loved to have had my own family, God has given me literally hundreds of MKs to love!”

Donna attends First Baptist Church of Mims, Florida when she is not traveling. She enjoys playing the organ, substitute teaching, and serving in the AWANA program. She notes that one of the biggest challenges in missions is her travel schedule, which prevents her from having a regular ministry and also trying to keep a support base. Donna considers the challenges of ministry as regular tests for her contentment.

“It seems like I am constantly learning a new level of faith and trust in our loving God,” said Donna. “I have come to know Him more intimately in the most difficult situations of life. No one would ever ask for the pain that goes with those experiences, but that is when the Lord’s presence is most sweet. I’m grateful for that growth in my life.”

Donna hopes that her message of contentment can be an encouragement to other young people considering ministry. She challenges students to delight themselves in the Lord.

“The conclusion is that if I’m delighting in the Lord, then I can trust the ‘desires’ of my heart. They are His desires planted in my heart so that I can love all that I do for Him and serve Him with joy!”