Forty years of ministry

Joy Dickens began working as a ministry assistant for Goshen Baptist Association in 1981. In the 1990s she helped start the association’s RuraLove ministry, which collects donated items that churches can use to meet families’ physical needs. 

This year marks Joy Dickens’ 40th year as ministry assistant with Goshen Baptist Association. Inspired by the moderator, Paul Hepler, Goshen decided to rent a small cottage in Mineral to house a central office. Dickens was called as the ministry assistant in July 1981 and in 1988, Goshen called the first director of missions.

When Dickens began her ministry the only thing done on a computer was the list of newsletter recipients, which printed out in a long continuous line. The old Apple computer was slow and often gave her a big headache. All other work was done on a typewriter. Computers still give her a headache.

In 1995, Joy and Tommy Dickens went to a conference in the Norfolk area and visited a ministry there that Goshen used as a model for RuraLove under the direction of the Director of Missions, Murphy Terry. RuraLove  collects donated items that churches can use to meet the physical needs of families, with the hope of also building a bond and meeting spiritual needs.

Dickens said she appreciates the aid she has received from reception area volunteers since the group’s move into the Goshen Ministry Center in 1997. The volunteers help answer phone lines and questions, handle mailouts, and take applications for RuraLove, allowing her to concentrate on administrative work.

Working with Goshen has afforded Dickens the flexibility to serve on 22 foreign mission trips and to also work closely with local missions through RuraLove by not only doing administrative work, but also by doing manual labor in the warehouse until 2019. Joy continues to do administrative work with RuraLove and is in the process of training the new coordinator.

Her foreign mission trips have taken her to England, Scotland, Estonia, Russia, Austria, Ukraine, China, and Mexico. Joy has also been blessed to have traveled in the footsteps of Lottie Moon while in China, journeyed to the Seven Churches of the Revelation Tour, and has traveled throughout the Holy Lands.

For State Missions, Joy has been to Blackstone, Virginia several times to help rebuild a church which burnt down forging a relationship with the pastor and wife which continues to this day.

Joy is also constantly traveling locally, visiting with all the Goshen churches and forming relationships which she says has been a huge blessing.

Ministry Assistant of Goshen Baptist Association, Joy Dickens “I have come to realize that the only thing that will keep Goshen a thriving and vital organism for the furtherance of the Gospel is our focus on missions and sharing God’s word faithfully.” Joy continued, “You have blessed me more than you will ever know by allowing me to serve my call among you. Each Director of Missions has brought his God given gifts to us and blessed my life and ministry. It has been my pleasure to serve alongside the excellent men of God. I look forward with great anticipation to what wonderful things God has in store for Goshen in the days ahead as we share in the Kingdom’s work.”

Joy plans to continue to serve as Ministry Assistant as long as God gives her the ability to continue her ministry.

Note from the author: On March 15, Joy celebrates her 80th birthday. It would be a wonderful gift if people would share their favorite memory in a card or letter.

 If you’d like to also give a gift in her honor to missions, please make a donation to the Goshen Missions Offering. Send your memory to: Joy Dickens; Goshen Baptist Association; P.O. Box 296, Mineral, VA 23117.

 If making a donation, please make payable to “Goshen Baptist Association” and note in memo, “GMO in honor.”


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