Open doors and open hearts
From the street, Duane and Linda Cross’s house looks like the other two-story homes you’ll see in its subdivision and many others off Piney Grove Road in Kernersville.
But step inside and listen and you’ll hear different languages, experience different cultures and quickly realize that the doors of this home aren’t just open to the owners in Kernersville. They’re open to missionaries and ministries Triad Baptist Church supports all around the world.
Opened Sept. 10, the Cross’s home is officially the “Triad Baptist Missions Ministry House.” Just as they did with their own home overseas during their missionary service, the Crosses hope to use their house in Kernersville to share Christ’s love and encouragement through open doors, open hearts, tasty cooking, comfortable beds, and dinner table conversation.
“God always pays back what you invest in other people’s lives for Him,” said Duane, who served as a missionary from 1989 until 2015 in service that took him to Colombia and then Chile.
“When you sit at the table and eat with people, you know their hearts, minds and they open up about their needs — spiritually, physically, and emotionally — and have a contact person.”
Added Linda, “We have done this for many years both at the church where we served before we were missionaries, as well as in Colombia and Chile. Our hearts are to meet the needs of people here too within a home setting.”
Duane found out that’s exactly what the missionaries Triad supports want versus a hotel stay so, after his retirement in 2015 from Chile and return to the U.S., both began praying for the opportunity to create such a place.
For a while, it looked like the brick house on the land Triad bought to expand its campus might be an option.
“When we bought that property, we considered having it renovated for the Mission House,” recalled Lead Pastor Rob Decker. “But when we looked into it, it would cost us $80,000 to $100,000 and was too cost-prohibitive.
“Duane kept at it and kept praying, and God provided in an incredible way,” Decker said. “I’m very proud of them and their hearts to be used of God this way in their retirement and twilight years and God’s clear provision to support their ministry.”
To the Crosses, seeing their home itself as an open door to ministry isn’t new and goes back to the days Duane was on the staff of High Point Baptist Chapel in Geigertown, Pennsylvania.
In addition to serving as music director, school teacher, and baker in the church camp, Duane and Linda had a Children’s Home Ministry in their home for 13 years under High Point Baptist Chapel. They kept missionary kids who needed to go to high school and college in the States, as well as other needy children and youth. In those years, 46 children came through the home.
One of their guests — a 14-year-old who came to know Christ and who they opened their home to when his parents kicked him out of their home — went on to become a successful businessman.
Three months ago, he called the Crosses with an offer, said Duane.
“He asked me, ‘Do you want a house? Your ministry is not over.’ And he gave us a price range and said, ‘You have this amount. Go find a house.’ ”
And that’s just what the Crosses did.
They closed on the property in August and moved in Sept. 10 — into a house furnished in part with beds, furniture, and other items arranged by Joyce Yates, Miriam Stanley, and other Triad members.
The five-bedroom home is currently housing a young couple from Chile who are in Kernersville for a few months to learn from Triad how to run an Awana program and take that knowledge back to their church in Chile. A young man needing a home and family while he finishes up his high school years is also with them. But there’s still plenty of room to have visiting missionaries over for lunch or dinner or several night’s stay.
“People are our most valued and important asset,” Duane said. “Investing into others’ lives will reproduce itself. It’s not something you do for an hour or two a week but 100 percent of the time, and that’s what we do with people who come to our home.”
Concludes Linda, “Some people can’t handle using their home like this and that’s OK. God uses each of us in different ways. But, for us, it’s what God has us do — being sensitive to people’s needs and not being afraid of jumping in and meeting those needs.”