Shannon and Joan Hampton have been to the mission field and back again, but their ultimate mission has never changed. They want to “make disciples of all nations” according to The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. They spent the early years of their marriage serving in their local church where Shannon was the associate pastor. Then they felt called to move to Argentina as missionaries. After four years there, they needed to come back to America to get assistance for their youngest child after he was diagnosed with autism.
But the mission remained the same. Over twenty years later, they're still making disciples through church planting and a Bible institute. Shannon is the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Camino Del Rey, a church plant that is about ten years old in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He also leads a Bible institute that gives lay people an opportunity to audit courses and ministry-minded individuals a chance to earn a degree. The 18 courses can be completed over a three-year period. Shannon often travels six to ten weeks a year to teach these classes in person when possible. He travels to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, and Chattanooga, Tennessee to hold classes.
Bible Institute students from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Bible Institute students from Santiago, Dominican Republic
Iglesia Bautista Camino del Rey near Charlotte, North Carolina
Of course, a lot of this changed during the pandemic. Online learning raised new challenges to the institute, and Shannon is working on how to make that transition smooth. However, the students still prefer face to face interaction. Shannon said, "If you have 9 or 10 people over Zoom it takes a tremendous amount of concentration, and most people don’t have that kind of attention span." He also said many of his students do not have laptops, so using their phones to Zoom is an additional challenge. Shannon is slowly resuming his traveling this year with a trip to Guatemala where he will work with several dozen pastors who are interested in additional theological training.
Whether Shannon is behind a pulpit or a lecturn, the Hamptons are continuing their mission to disciple the nations. Eventually Shannon would prefer to focus most of his time on the institute and assist with church planting instead of leading in that capacity. As he considers the last twenty-five years, Shannon recognizes that his love for Hispanic people and their culture has continued to grow. “He gives you a love for the people, even though they’re of a different culture and of a different language. I just think whatever you invest in, the Lord will give you a passion for the people and to help the people. If you love God, you’ll be able to love the people," he said.