Pictured Above: David and Krisztina McDowell at the IMB Sending Celebration. Photo provided by IMB.
NEW ORLEANS–Theirs is a love story and a missions commitment that has spanned two continents for years. Now David and Krisztina McDowell are heading from their central Florida home in Umatilla to Warsaw, Poland, to serve as International Mission Board missionaries.
On Tuesday, June 13, David and Krisztina McDowell, along with 77 other individuals, participated in the IMB’s Sending Celebration held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2023 annual meeting in New Orleans.
David, who grew up in central Florida, first met Krisztina, who was born and raised in Hungary, when they were both serving on different mission teams at a citywide outreach event in Budapest, Hungary. Afterwards, David continued his missions service in Romania while Krisztina stayed in Hungary.
The two then kept in touch through video calls and visited each other occasionally. They became engaged four months after meeting one another, and they were married another five months later.
After getting married, the couple served together in Romania and Hungary a few years before moving to Florida in 2010 to be near David’s parents as they started their family, which today includes 12-year-old twin daughters and an 8-year-old son.
‘God calling us …. now’
The couple long thought that they might return to the mission field after their children were grown, but God had different plans. In 2021, the couple sensed “God calling us back now,” David said, and they began the IMB missionary application process which took a year and a half but helped prepare the couple and their three children spiritually, physically and mentally, he said.
James Gardner, executive pastor of the McDowell’s home church, First Baptist Church of Umatilla, “has been our mentor through the process and very supportive,” David said. Pastor Gardner, David added, has been on short-term mission trips and also served for a year in an Asian country with his family.
Gardner said that the “steadfastness” of the McDowells through the application process “makes it even more apparent to me that they know this is God’s plan for their lives.”
The couple, he said, “are faithful servants here at FBC Umatilla and have continued to serve, even during this time of approval with the IMB. They love the Lord and are compassionate thinkers and planners.”
The next step for the McDowell family is to spend a seven-week orientation in Richmond, Virginia, which David believes will be “a great time of learning, fellowship and preparation. Then in early fall, they will head to Poland, where they will focus on learning the Polish language.
“We hope in time we can speak and be understood in the heart language of the Polish people,” David said.
Even as they are learning the language, David said, “Of course we are going to share the gospel with people we meet and build relationships as well.”
Poland, David shared, is just over 120,00 square miles, which is a bit smaller than New Mexico. It is the fifth most populous country in the European Union. Today about 90% of Poles are Roman Catholic, and about .3% are evangelical Christian. In the nation’s capital, Warsaw, there are two Polish Baptist churches.
As they begin serving in Poland, the McDowells will join an IMB church planting team that is already there.
'Please pray that we follow God’s plan for our lives in Warsaw.'
“We are hoping to build meaningful relationships with the people in our sphere of influence. We also hope to see the birth of a new Polish church in Warsaw that can be instrumental in planting other churches in other towns in northeast Poland,” he said.
The McDowell’s three children, David said, “are excited about this new chapter in our lives. They love God, and He is very important in their lives, so they understand why we are going. They know that people need Jesus.”
During the June Sending Celebration, Krisztina shared the family’s prayer request: “Please pray that we follow God’s plan for our lives in Warsaw.”