John Yarbrough knows about power — the electrical kind and the spiritual kind.
By profession Yarbrough, the 2018 Outstanding Missions Volunteer of the Year, is an electrician at Goodyear in Gadsden. But throughout the year, he puts his skills to work on a variety of missions projects in his community and beyond.
“John is a deeply devoted Christian who is a highly skilled craftsman, a strong leader, a planner, an organizer and a man’s man with an incomparable servant’s heart,” said Lookout Mountain Baptist Association Director of Missions Lloyd Borden, who nominated Yarbrough for the award.
Terry Burke, Yarbrough’s pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Collinsville, said Yarbrough’s heart is with missions work. He noted the multiple trips Yarbrough has made to Honduras since 1999.
“He has spent his vacation time in Honduras every year for several years with a medical missions team,” Burke said. “John isn’t a doctor but he makes sure they have power and does crowd control as well as evangelism along the long lines during the waiting period for medical and dental treatments.”
Another annual project is a two-day work trip to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home in Oxford. Over the years, Yarbrough and his team have cleared brush, built fences and completed other jobs on the campus.
Yarbrough assisted in disaster relief work following Hurricane Katrina, where his electrical skills came in handy, just as they did on construction projects in Kentucky, Georgia and Alaska. Locally, Yarbrough has helped out around his church through the years, repairing lighting, servicing air conditioning units, adding lights to recreational areas and generally maintaining anything that requires electricity. Yarbrough is a deacon his church depends on greatly, Burke said.
Yarbrough also serves as men’s ministries director for Lookout Association. In that role, Yarbrough “encourages youth and young adult men to participate and mature as volunteers, based on their Christian obligation to help others,” Burke said.
And Yarbrough sets the example. Over the years, his list of missions projects in northeast Alabama include repairing an air conditioner for a local widow; working with several different Carpenters for Christ groups on church buildings and fellowship halls; and helping build and wire a home for a mother and her son whose mobile home had been destroyed by fire.
The criteria for nomination for the annual award given by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions is to have served in each of the four fields that are mentioned in Acts 1:8 — Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth, said Scotty Goldman, director of the office of global missions. Goldman noted that Yarbrough’s work mentioned more than human accomplishments.
“For every one of those journeys, it was mentioned the number of people who were led to Christ,” Goldman said. “It’s not just a missions trip, it’s a missions experience with people coming to know the Lord as a result of faithful volunteers.”
For Yarbrough, every missions experience is a joy, Borden said. Whether walking the roofline of a house, squirming around a crawl space or riding a bus for 12 hours along a bumpy dirt road in Honduras, Yarbrough is always smiling.
“All because he loves God and loves serving people. And because he values the sharing of the gospel of Christ above any other life experience.”
Yarbrough said he was humbled by the award, and he encouraged others to see the opportunities God has put in their lives to serve Him through missions work.
“What better could a person say when you die than he served God during his generation with his abilities?”