My name is Anthony Phillips. My wife, Niki, and I have three beautiful children: Kylie (17), Joshua (16), and Taylor (13). We live in southern France in the city of Carcassonne where we are serving the Lord as missionaries sent by Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Orlando.
Niki and I both grew up in Southeast Arkansas. She was raised in the city of Pine Bluff, and I was raised behind a cow pasture somewhere between Pine Bluff and Star City, AR. Niki and I both also grew up in ABA churches from birth, but never met until we were in our late teens. I was saved when I was 8 and baptized by Bethlehem MBC in Palmyra, AR. My Dad surrendered to the ministry when I was 13. I was always active in church, our youth group, and was even president of the Youth Rally for a while. On November 6, 1998 (nine days before my sixteenth birthday), on the way to the Arkansas State meeting, I answered God’s call to the ministry. When we got home from the meeting, I spent the rest of the weekend preparing my first sermon, which my dad would have me preach the following Sunday evening. The title of my first sermon was “Fear Not,” which I preached for a whole 8 minutes. I closed the service and turned It over to my dad, who offered an invitation. A girl from our youth group walked the aisle and gave her heart to Jesus. Her name was Niki.
A few years later, we began dating. After graduating high school from Star City, I moved to Columbia, Missouri where I worked as an understudy with a missionary. That, I felt, was my calling. I moved up in May of 2001. That August, I drove back down to Pine Bluff, married Niki, and brought her back to Missouri (stopping by Springfield, MO on the way to visit the BassPro shop for our honeymoon). We lived and served there for 4 years. Kylie and Joshua were both born during our time there.
I began to feel the itch to set off on my own and do mission work, but the Lord sent a missionary on deputation whom God used to send me a message. I needed to get an education first. I am not saying that every preacher or missionary has to do that, but I did. The missionary who mentored me was one of the founders of Oxford Baptist Institute (OBI) in Oxford, MS. So, that was naturally where I went to seminary. My grandpa brought his pickup and cow trailer, we loaded it up and move to Mississippi. After about 6 months, I was hired on as the promotional director for OBI. During my travels, I stayed with an elderly pastor who asked me what I intended to do after seminary. I told him, without hesitation, that I was called to be a missionary. I did not know where, of course, but that was my goal. He very wisely told me that, if I was serious about being a missionary, that I may want to get some pastoral experience
first. God made it very clear that this man was speaking the truth. Again, I am not saying that every missionary has to have pastoral experience, but I did.
A few months later, I got a call from New Prospect MBC in Colt, AR. They wanted me to come “in view of a call.” I did. The church and I both knew that was where I needed to be. At that time, Niki was 8 months pregnant with Taylor. For insurance purposes, I needed to wait until she was born before moving. So, I drove from Mississippi to Arkansas every Sunday for a month or so until Taylor was born. Then we moved into the church parsonage. I continued my classes at OBI and got my Bachelor of Bible Languages.
After 3 years at New Prospect, God led us to Calvary MBC in Orlando, where we served for 8 wonderful years. We love Calvary, love Orlando, and love Florida. I loved being a pastor there. But, eventually, that original calling to mission work came back. I tried to play it off for a while. I attempted to up our ministry endeavors at Calvary. I thought about us becoming a sending church for another missionary. I even tried starting a Spanish ministry where I preached, and someone translated. Nothing stopped that calling.
During this time, the calling moved from being a general call to “missions” to being a very specific calling to a very unexpected place: France.
The calling to France had been introduced to me earlier that year at the ABA meeting, where I met Jason Clark who was working in France at the time. He and I had a conversation that would not let go of me. That spark grew into a flame, which grew into a fire that I could not ignore any longer. At 1am, January 1, 2017, I answered God’s call to go to France as a missionary. Six weeks later, we announced that calling to Calvary. I resigned, asking the church to allow me to stay on until the end of April while they searched for a pastor. In early April, they called Steve Rutherford as pastor.
Two weeks later, they voted to become our sending church. May 1st, 2017, we went on full time deputation. June 13, 2018, we moved onto the field. We spent one year in language school near Paris, and we have spent a year here in our field of labor at Carcassonne.
We are working right now to get English courses started for locals, through which we hope to build connections and lead people to Christ. We are in the process of getting a building right now which we will use to host our English courses and French Bible studies. Kylie is a student at the Agricultural high school just outside of town. Josh will also begin classes there this fall. Taylor is in middle school (collège). Everyone is adjusting well I believe. We have all had our struggles and setbacks, but the Lord has blessed Tremendously August 10 of this year, Niki and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage.
Thank you for all you do.
In His Service,