Garry and Kathy Eudy lived and served in Central American countries as Southern Baptist IMB missionaries from 1978-1996. During that time they shared leadership with national partners in planting 13 churches. Garry developed a church planting strategy called “Missionary Brigades” that used university and seminary student teams during the summer and on weekends to share the Gospel, disciple new believers, gather them into Bible studies, and eventually form new congregations. Later Garry served as Associate Area Director for the IMB (International Mission Board) Area that included Canada, Mexico, Panama and Central America. As AAD (Associate to the Area Director) he led missionaries and related to national Baptist leaders. Garry gained a valuable knowledge and understanding of Latin American countries and peoples during those years. This international experience is strategic to the E3V growing vision of expanding into multiple countries of Latin America and eventually other parts of the world.
In 1996 they returned stateside and Garry pastored in the USA until 2011. As pastor of Central Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA, he led the church to be aggressively involved in volunteer missions with as many as 300 members going annually on a mission team, both stateside and internationally.
In 2009, Garry felt led to explore the possibility of starting an international missions ministry upon his retirement as Pastor of Central Baptist Church.
Garry made three trips to Central America to investigate the current needs and opportunities for volunteer ministry in Central America. Even though he was very familiar with the spiritual and cultural landscape in places like Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica, what he discovered amazed him. Garry learned that Southern Baptists through the IMB were deep into the process of redeploying missionary personnel and resources away from Latin America and toward other parts of the world in order to focus on penetrating unreached people groups. While the IMB strategy has great merit, it has left a near vacuum of Southern Baptist presence in a part of the world in which the Great Commission Mandate to disciple the peoples is largely left unfinished.
Garry returned home convinced that the only answer to this shrinking Baptist involvement in Latin America was to act on his belief that the pastors and lay people of Baptist churches can significantly and strategically fill the gaps left by departing missionaries. In 2010, Central Baptist, led by Garry as Pastor, conducted two projects in Guatemala involving 30 volunteers. One event was a pastors and leaders training conference in which 260 christian leaders attended. This event was the launch of the annual “The Summit,” training event which celebrated its tenth year in 2019.
Modest Beginnings, 2011-2013
In 2011, after Garry’s retirement, Central Baptist sent a team with Garry. They were joined by Liberty Park Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. They again conducted the pastors training conference and added two medical clinics held in the mountain regions of El Quiche.
By this time, Garry knew God was calling him to mobilize volunteers to help fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
Looking for a scriptural approach to do volunteer missions, Garry felt that the Apostle Paul’s phrase “fellowship in the Gospel” in Philippians 1:4 gave the key to a simple, sound, and successful approach for doing not only volunteer missions, but also any missions. After all, almost all of what Paul did could be described as “creating church to church fellowship in global Gospel activity!”
Up to this point, the mission trips were just “Garry’s retirement ministry,” but now he felt led to form a missions organization to achieve his volunteer missions vision. Thus E3 Volunteers was born! The three “E”s stood for Enlisting, Equipping and Engaging Great Commission Volunteers. And Garry was convinced more than ever that the best way to accomplish volunteer engagement in missions was through church to church, international fellowship in Gospel activity, ie., partnerships!
In 2012, Central Baptist and Liberty Park Baptist continued going and E3V added First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, GA; First Baptist Church St. George Island, FL; and First Baptist Church, Douglasville, GA. Projects included sports and medical evangelism, door to door evangelism, and construction at the Guatemala Baptist Seminary. Linda Weeks began doing our finances and team travel arrangements.
In 2013, The Tennessee Baptist Convention invited E3 Volunteers to launch their new evangelistic discipleship training program, More Life, in a Central American country. FBC Douglasville sent the largest group E3V has ever coordinated. Over 125 students, along with adult leadership, served in construction, music and drama, children’s evangelism, sports evangelism and medical missions. Rosemont Baptist Church in LaGrange, GA began a partnership with a mission church on the Pacific coast.
Incredible Growth, 2014-2017
In this period, our ministry exploded in number of church to church partnerships and in number of mission trips. E3 Volunteers assisted the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in forming a partnership with the Convencion de Iglesias Bautistas de Guatemala. Both conventions then asked E3V to coordinate their newly formed partnership. The first year, the TBMB sent 12 teams, doubling the number of E3V teams in one year.
There was also another kind of growth… we began to utilize longer term volunteers for the first time. E3V sent a one-year volunteer and 4 one-month volunteers to Guatemala. Later, Joe and Meagan Frye served as E3V regional missionaries for 2 years. Then Cindy and David Wynn came and are now Full-time Church Support Missionaries in the Atitlan area. Also, Jeff Powell joined us to manage our stateside finances and flight purchases.
Moving on to New Levels, 2018-2019
E3 Volunteers grew to facilitate over 50 church to church partnerships and some 60 plus team trips by 2019. We also deployed 25 summer missionaries and 2 semester missionaries during that time. And five full-time missionaries went to Guatemala under the auspices of E3V.
The Pandemic and E3V spreads throughout Central America!, 2020-2022
We began 2020 with 90 church trips on our calendar. We felt that we would easily have 100 teams by year’s end. BUT, on March 14 all travel was shut down as the reality of Covid-19’s impact began to hit us. We had two more teams in late fall.
It was a terrible and tragic time, in which we saw economies crash and friends and colleagues die. But God moved in His people’s hearts and we saw Stateside partners give with incredible generosity to provide for needs and suffering in Guatemala. And we saw Guatemalan partners courageously minister to hungry and sick people with those those funds. E3V and our partners fed thousands of families for over 6 months and provided medicines and other relief for hundreds more.
The other “But God…” of this period was that during the shutdown, we had time to rethink and re-dream Garry’s original vision of taking churches and volunteers to several countries in Central America. So in 2021, we hosted a missions summit for the presidents of all the baptist conventions of Central America. Then, we did follow up Vision Trips to each country. We now have budding partnerships with the baptist conventions of every Central American country. As of January 2022, we have teams and trips on the calendar in 8 countries! And other countries of Central and South America are next.
The Guatemala Baptist Convention-Tennessee Baptist Mission Board Partnership continues to grow. E3V is facilitating the Georgia Baptist Convention’s partnerships in several countries. We now have partner churches from 8 states… Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Over the years, phenomenal things have happened. The partnerships and the teams have continued to grow. Guatemalan pastors and E3V are moving into neighboring countries taking the Gospel to the unreached and starting churches. God is calling volunteers and translators and team mobilizers to missions! Because of these developments, we began adding new missionaries to our Guatemala national leadership team and to our stateside team.
Back in 2019, we felt a need to change our three “E’s”. Our first E is now “Equip.” The third “E” is now “Empower.” Empower indicates our commitment to seeing our national partners increasingly conduct local and global Gospel activity themselves!
E3V simply began as an idea for a retirement ministry. But God had a greater vision! He brought new young leaders, both stateside and overseas, into the E3V ministry. They have bought into the vision and they are enlarging it quickly and dramatically. And, honestly, Garry has been as surprised as anyone else! God wants our eyes to be on the unreached of the nations. His desire is that He be glorified in His church. So we will continue to make it our mission to connect churches in global Gospel activity. We will no longer be surprised, but we will be amazed