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"I Pound Nails for Jesus": an Interview with Scott Bowman

Scott "Bo" Bowman is the head of Misfits on a Mission. He was interviewed by Hannah Hargraves on August 16, 2022

[Bo and a Dominican girl]

How did you get started in missions?

At Norwin Christian Church, before I was even saved. I was standing in the lobby. Guy taps me on the shoulder and says ‘You need to go on a mission trip with me.’ I said 'what?' He said 'You need to go on a mission trip.' I said 'yeah, I don’t care.' Fella’s name was Tom Hickson. He called his ministry “Hope Missions”. I went to Katrina Relief Effort, that was my first mission trip. It happened in August 2005 and we were there in January 2006. It’s actually where I made my decision to get saved. From there he talked me into a Dominican Republic trip for the first time.

After that, I’m probably somewhere around 80 mission trips since 2006. I always tell people, I’ve got nothing else to give God, except this. I can’t evangelize. If I joined the praise team at church I could clear that building faster than a bomb threat. I pound nails for Jesus.

How many trips do you usually go on in a year?

Most years we’ve done six or 7 trips in a year. I’m starting to slow down a little bit now but I still do at least the Dominican and two more every year. We’ve been going to the Dominican Republic at least 15 years. I have fun doing it. I don’t want to go to Myrtle Beach and sit and look at the ocean. It’s not what I do. I really enjoy taking people on their first mission trip. They really got no idea what they’re getting into. Our trips might be a little louder and crazier than some others, but it’s still all about Jesus and those who come with us know that.

Did you receive any formal mission training?

No, baptism by fire. They threw me in there and we had a ball.

What was your life like before you started attending church and going on mission trips?

I always believed in God, I just never had a relationship with him. I owe it to my wife and daughter mostly, but even a next door neighbor who was a Deacon in the Presbyterian church, a secretary in an office I worked in was a Christ follower since birth. I remember my neighbor saying to me one time “Even if the Bible’s not true, even if it were just a big fantasy, wouldn’t you like to live your life that way anyway?”. Being kind. Being considerate. Doing for others. That kinda hit home and it’s amazing the transformation in my life. I was never a criminal element or stayed up all night partying. I didn’t have any churching growing up. We went to Catholic church on Christmas and Easter, you know, to cover our bases. We threw a dollar in the collection plate and that mean we’re going to Heaven. Before I was saved I went golfing instead of going to church on Sunday morning. I think it’s very insulting to Jesus to treat His kingdom like that, but I didn’t know any better.

Do most of your trips go to the Dominican Republic?

We go there every year. We take usually 25 people to the Dominican. But we’ve been to PR [Puerto Rico] 5 or 6 times. We’ve been to WV 5 or 6 times. We’ve been to 14 states on mission trips. We’ve been to Joplin, Missouri, we’ve done Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and we’re leaving on September 10th 2022 and we’re taking a 40 ft. long trailer loaded with supplies like diapers, sheets and pillow cases, non-perishable foods and anything a person would need who lost everything in the Kentucky floods.

What people don’t understand is, they sit here and watch TV and think oh that’s terrible they lost everything. You really don’t understand what “everything” means until you go there and see it. There house is destroyed. Now they don’t have any place to work because their work is destroyed. Now they don’t have any health insurance anymore because they don’t have a job. They don’t have a car, so they can’t find a new job. They eat terrible food because there’s no stove to cook on. There’s no refrigerator to keep the baby’s milk cold. And it doesn’t last for 3 days like the coverage on your local news. It lasts for months and years like that. Some folks don’t get their house repaired for a year. A lot of the folks impacted are senior citizens and they’re living in FEMA trailers for extended periods. I remember a lady telling me when we were down for Katrina, that she wanted “to die in my home, not in this little tin can.” Nothing is better than being at home. Our mission work helps people get back to their homes.

What kind of work do you do in the US when there isn't a natural disaster?

Most of the time, our work in the United States is natural disaster related. There was a horrible flood in Charleston, West Virginia that washed out a lot of single family bridges. Bridges that crossed a creek between the road and the home. If you lived in one of those homes where the bridge washed out and you had a heart attack or medical emergency, the ambulance wouldn’t be able to get to you and you could die. We were down there physically building residential bridges. There was an F5 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri. Last year Hurricane Ida hit Lousiana and we took a 40 ft. truckload down there. Tornados hit Mayfield, Kentucky and we went there to help. We have a network of churches and partners and some are affiliated with World Vision. We are affiliated with Pastor Ken Stover in Alabama who I met through a disaster relief trip when we helped him fix hurricane damage in his community. He met us recently in Louisiana with some guys from his town and we partnered together to repair some storm damaged homes.

We do some non-natural disaster work. In Alabama when we visit there, there are two homes for addiction down there. One is for men and the other is for women. We basically go there and do repairs and help get the place fixed up. It is a wonderful, wonderful experience to go down there and get to know those folks and help them.

Me and a participant named Red and another fellow were working at the women’s home repairing a bathroom and talked all day back and forth about our lives. He said something that really hit home with me. He told me how there are some people that think that when addicts overdose they should just let them go. That addicts aren’t worth saving. Red said to me, “Listen Bo, every one of us was somebody’s little boy at one time. And everybody is worth saving. Physically and spiritually. Everybody is worth saving.”

I think Jesus puts marks on you. There’s little things that He puts in your head. He puts you in a situation to learn and you remember those lessons forever.

Don’t ever forget it’s all about Jesus. Your whole time on Earth means nothing if you’re not saved. You’ve wasted 80 or 85 years.

Can you describe the kinds of construction work you do in the Dominican Republic?

We do all masonry work in the DR as they use wood for almost nothing. The bugs down there will eat almost anything made out of wood. Between the weather, and the salt air and the bugs nothing made of wood works down there. We built some picnic tables at the church we built, and in just 3 years they are junk. They’re all rotted away. Last year we drilled our first well and it was an overwhelming success. We were able to drill a well for clean fresh drinking water for only $700 US Dollars. I posted some pictures of it up on social media, and before I even got home from the trip a woman back in the states was blowing up my phone. She told me she had already raised enough money for two more wells and was working on getting the money for the third! It’s a wonderful opportunity that Jesus put in front of us. When Jesus gives us an opportunity, my little band of Misfits on a Mission we seize it!

How do you fund all of the projects that you do?

I’ve got a large group of volunteers, probably a group of 30 people that I can pull from at any time to help with construction projects. We just finished a handicap ramp for a woman who is mother to a 36 year old severely handicapped child in Pennsylvania. The ramp they had was going to fall down and was unsafe. Me and the Misfits went over there and through donations, we were able to supply all the materials. There were four of us that went over there and worked on that to give them a nice safe way to get in and out of the home. We are blessed, so we like to bless others.

There’s two ways we fund stuff. Donations. People hear what we do and like what we do and send us donations. I also hustle contractors and friends and people that own their own businesses and will raise anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000. Funny thing is, many of the people who donate money aren’t Christians. They donate to me because they trust me, and know that I’ll put their money to good use. they know if they give me a dollar, I’ll spend a dollar on the cause. People, they see what we do on Facebook, and visit our website with a donate button. They see what we’re doing and feel compelled and led by God to hit the donate button and send us some money.

Also, I’ve been in construction my whole life. So let’s say someone needs a new kitchen. I’ll give them an estimate just like any other contractor would. Then I call the Misfits and we do the work. I recoup my money for materials, and I ask the customer to write a check to our non-profit organization to cover the labor and this goes into our missions fund. We then use that money to fund other projects. It’s a creative and tax-deductible way to raise money and people are happy to do it!

How do you recruit people to join the Misfits for mission trips?

Misfits on a Mission is just a name for a bunch of Christ-following sinners who love to serve. They see what we’re doing and they see that…it’s not work. We’re having fun but we’re getting the job done too. You have to experience it. You have to see it to believe it. It’s not your typical mission trip. We’re there serving Jesus, through those people. We let people know that we’re coming down there to spread the love of Jesus. The lady in Pennsylvania was taken aback and couldn’t believe we do this work for nothing. We love people because Jesus loved us first. Someone sees what we’re doing and jumps on board and decides to ride this Jesus train with us. Once you get on it, you don’t want to get off.

What are the benefits to becoming a missionary?

I’ve taken probably 300 people on mission trips. Overwhelmingly, they tell me the beautiful thing about going on mission trips is you’re surrounded by other Christians the entire time you are there. It totally recharges my spiritual batteries when you go on a mission trip. My everyday life is not like that and yours probably isn’t either. We all deal with friends and co-workers that aren’t saved. When you’re on a mission trip, you’re worshiping every day, you’re doing morning devotionals, you’re singing hymns, you’re hearing other people pray, you’re worshiping together. On a typical Monday morning back home, you’re not doing any of that. Fellowshipping with other Christians 24x7 for an entire week does something for you. It’s a no brainer. I’m kind of ashamed it took me 64 years to realize it.

What kinds of schooling or training do you need for mission work?

I don’t know that training is necessary for the short term mission trips that we do. If you’re going to be a long term missionary in a foreign country it would be a terrible idea to do that without training. Training is definitely needed for any long term mission work.

Do you think you have to be affiliated with a specific denomination in order to go on mission trips?

No. One of my least favorite words is “religious”. I’m a sinner and a Christ follower. I’ve traveled with Catholics and Methodists and Presbyterians and they’re all just wonderful people. As long as they have a personal relationship with Jesus, are kind to others, have a knowledge of the Bible and are following biblical practices they are welcome to join us and help spread the teachings of Jesus.

Your mission trips outside the US are in the Dominican Republic. Do you speak Spanish? Do you think it's important that missionaries speak the local language?

I speak just enough to talk somewhat on the construction site. I can go to the hardware store and order the materials we need. I probably sound like an idiot when I’m doing it, but I can do it. When I first started I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish but after an embarrassing incident where I spent 10 minutes trying unsuccessfully to tell a store clerk that I needed a blue wheelbarrow I realized I’d better learn to speak some Spanish. To this day, because of that incident, I can tell you a blue wheelbarrow is called an azule carretilla. The language barrier can be frustrating, but it can also be very entertaining.

Curious about Bo and the Misfits?

Want to donate or join?

Head to their website or check out their Facebook page!

[photos: one non-construction job the misfits do is passing out Operation Christmas Child boxes]


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