By Lilly Price | Reporter
Joan Barrett, a senior Spanish lecturer in the Baylor Modern Languages and Cultures Department, continues the legacy of her father as the executive director of Gloria al Padre (GAP).
The ministry’s website explains Gloria al Padre as a missions support organization which links churches and other volunteers to assist in project needs.
“We have a four fold mission, primarily medical … we have an agricultural base, a farm up in the mountains and the farm helps feed the local people,” Barrett said. “And then educational … the fourth branch is construction of buildings and facilities for use.”
She said that the ministry has built clinics, pastoral homes, educational buildings for churches and orphanages.
Barrett grew up attending mission trips to Mexico with her father, where she began to learn Spanish. While Barrett has been serving with the ministry since childhood, her role changed significantly in 2004 when her father Billy Ray Parmer died.
“The donors and the volunteers depend on someone to give direction. My job has been learning to coordinate with these people who worked with my father,” Barrett said.
She said her transition into the role of GAP executive director was not always an easy change.
“Some of the Mexican leaders quit because they did not want to work with a woman,” Barrett said. “The veterinarian quit because he didn’t want to be told what to do by a woman, and one of the missionaries left for the same reason.”
Beyond the adjustment of working with those from other cultures, Barrett said she had to work hard to assume the new roles that the title held.
“In 2004, I was a full time teacher, full time family person. I had to carve out this responsibility in my life,” Barrett said. “I was no longer just tagging along translating.”
Despite the adjustment, Barrett has been fulfilling the role for 16 years and has passed down the value of service to her son, Joseph Barrett, who grew up going on the mission trips.
Joseph Barrett recounted some impactful memories during his time in Mexico, ministering to the Tarahumara, a Native American people group of northwestern Mexico.
“We got a guitar and sang songs about Jesus, being able to open up pathways to them was a wonderful experience. This is what love is, seeing people brought to Christ in some really remote places,” Joseph Barrett said. “Legacy is all the people who’ve been apart of this the whole time, Dr. Yarbro and Dr. Irigoyen … to not highlight the various people who’ve carried this ministry would be a disservice,” Joseph Barrett said.