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Don and Eunice Coffman

Retired missionaries to Honduras
"I Gave the Lord My Cows and Found the Victory"
By Kristi Schweitzer, Intern, May 2014

From ordinary farmers in Iowa to extraordinary missionaries in Honduras, retirees Don and Eunice Coffman followed the Lord into an exciting adventure of service.

Don was born in Madison County, Iowa, on September 11, 1936, in a four-room remodeled log cabin. His family attended church regularly, and he was saved at the age of 10 during Vacation Bible School in 1947. In his teen years, he was involved in 4-H work, youth fellowship of the church, and high school band, along with helping his father on the farm.

Eunice Wakefield was born in a farm home in Adair County, Iowa. Although Eunice’s parents didn’t regularly attend church, her mother encouraged Eunice and her brother and sisters to go. After they moved to a farm just down the road from where Don lived, a neighbor would come by and take them to church. Eunice was saved as a teenager in 1952 at a revival meeting.

Having grown up in the same community, Don and Eunice knew each other most of their lives and were married on May 1, 1958. They farmed for 10 years, raising some dairy cows but mostly beef cattle and hogs. Don served on the Board of Directors of the Madison County Breeders Co-op and was president of the Madison County Shorthorn Association and the Madison County Farm Bureau. They were both active in church and Sunday School.

About five years after Don and Eunice were married, God started directing them toward missions. He had softened Eunice’s heart and was working on Don’s during revivals at church.

“I just felt the Lord call me and I went to the altar and prayed,” Don said. “The first thing the Lord asked me is if I’d give him my cattle.” He had started a herd of purebred shorthorn cattle when he was in 4-H. Now some were doing well in cattle shows, even as far away as Kansas City. Don struggled to accept the Lord’s calling, but asked God to open his heart. One Sunday, a guest speaker preached on Romans 10:15 about the need to share the gospel, and Don surrendered himself to missions. “That Sunday morning, I gave the Lord my cows and found the victory.”

To prepare themselves, they sold their farm equipment and livestock and rented the farm while they studied at Vennard College (Iowa), graduating in 1971. While still in college, they applied to World Gospel Mission and were appointed to Bolivia. Don went first for a short trip in March 1969, and in the summer of 1970, they went together as WGM Summer Career Corps workers (now Volunteers In Action). As volunteers, they served alongside the missionaries and practiced preaching and witnessing.

After graduating from college, they were redirected to Honduras. They studied at Spanish Language Institute in San José, Costa Rica, for one year before arriving in Honduras in 1973. They were based in Juticalpa, teaching lay training in the surrounding villages. In 1974, they helped rebuild houses after Hurricane Fifi devastated coastal areas.

In 1976, Don and Eunice were reunited with their love of farming when they transferred to Escuela El Sembrador (School of the Sower), a boarding school for underprivileged Honduran boys, which teaches general education, farming, vocational training, and Bible. The school’s goal is to break the cycle of poverty by equipping and educating boys and young men to be skilled workers and leaders in their communities, while being witnesses for Christ.

Don and Eunice spent most of their 32 years of service at the school, caring for the boys and the surrounding community. They frequently had visitors, students, and neighbors in their home. Their door was always open to boys who wanted to come over and watch a movie, play games, or just talk. Their greatest joys have always been seeing their students accept Christ. They were able to lead many to the Lord, and several students have come back to share how they found Christ later in life because of Don and Eunice’s impact.

Don’s primary jobs were directing the cattle department and serving as the general director of the school. He also taught classes in the Bible institute and Sunday School and did village evangelism.

Eunice taught in the Bible institute, Sunday School, and spiritual growth classes; was the assistant treasurer and hostess for guests; worked in the school’s store; assisted work teams; and did motherly duties, such as laundry, for the boys.

“Missionaries need to be willing to do whatever comes their way,” said Eunice. “There are a lot of things you have to do, even if it’s not in your job description.”

Over the years, they faced various challenges, including land squatters attempting to seize their land in 1992, frequent cattle thieves, and the destruction from Hurricane Mitch in 1998. “We had all kinds of challenges, even to the point of being threatened,” Don said. “The Lord blessed us and we were able to work there and looked at it as a privilege to be there. There were always challenges but the Lord was always in control.”

“He always provides and gives you peace,” Eunice said.

Don and Eunice continued to serve at El Sembrador until their retirement on October 31, 2003, after 32 years of service.

After retirement, they became Member Health representatives to WGM retired missionaries, staying in touch through correspondence, phone calls, and visits. They host visitors in their home and travel around the western U.S. visiting retired missionaries. They’ve also been to Mexico and have made trips back to Honduras to visit El Sembrador.

As Don and Eunice look back on their years of service, they are thankful they accepted the Lord’s call. “Someone asked us the other day if we have to sacrifice a lot to go down [to Honduras]. We never thought of it as a sacrifice but more as a privilege,” Don said. “We gained so much more than if we hadn’t gone.”

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