“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’” — Isaiah 6:8 (ESV)

If you grab a coffee with David and Donna Hoover and hear their testimony, you might find yourself booking a mission trip flight before the conversation’s over. The Hoovers’ story is defined by the Lord’s faithfulness and provision amid intense struggle, and consequently their trust and willingness to go where He leads.


Donna and David have been married for 19 years. Donna is a former technologist who performed and oversaw CTs and MRIs for Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and David is a 767 Captain at FedEx. They met at a hot air balloon festival in Taylor, Mississippi, where they’d attended separately with their respective groups of friends. David made his move and asked if she wanted to go on a motorcycle ride. Later, numbers were exchanged, and the rest is history…in the making!

One of their favorite activities they used to do together was sailing. Many a time they’d fly on down and rent a boat in the British Virgin Islands, which Donna dubs the “Disneyland of sailing.” The two have been attending Fellowship Bible Church together for roughly three years.

After nearly two decades of marriage, David reflects on what he admires about Donna. “She’s funny, beautiful, a good friend, and she’s been willing to follow me in things she wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to do on her own.” What he values most, though, is her presence. “If you’ve been married for very long,” he says, “you learn that it’s not just one thing that makes a person special to you. It’s a lot of little things put together. And over 20 years, that becomes, you know, the presence of the other person.” The Hoovers’ lives changed dramatically and permanently on November 18, 2020. Donna suffered a hemorrhagic stroke of the Middle Cerebral Artery (MCA), leaving her wheelchair-bound. Due to Covid restrictions, that meant there was a period when he was not allowed to be with her in the hospital for large pockets of time — so, her presence is not something he ever takes for granted.

Coincidentally, the attribute of God dearest to Donna is His presence, “that He’s always there… Like, in the morning, I wake up, I could talk to Him; or when I’m [stressed out] or something, I can always talk to Him. He’s always there.”

As for David, Donna says she most admires his courage and patience. “I was always scared of anything. You know, ‘I can’t do that. I’m too scared of that.’ Scared of hot air balloons. Scared to sail. Scared of everything, I was scared of everything. I still am. I’m scared of a lot of things. David’s not scared of anything, or, that he doesn’t show. So his courage to go do things; he kinda, he brought me out of — he brought me out of being scared… ‘You can do it.’… I started doing a lot of things I never would have done before.”

Too, Donna is grateful for how David’s commitment to her reminds her of the Gospel. “I really never knew somebody that loved me, loved me just for me. And my parents loved me because they had to, they’re my parents, you know… but David loved me just ‘cause he chose to. So it kinda reminded me, it actually taught me a little bit more about the love of Christ, because He loved me, loved me no matter what. And even though I made some mistakes, He still loved me even after those mistakes.”

Speaking of God’s love, that’s what resonates most with David about Him. “Well, if it weren’t for God’s love, we would all fall short and have to pay the price of our lives. You know, our sins. Evil is born into the heart of man, unfortunately. And if you read the Bible as just a continuous letter, it’s basically a description of how man falls short continuously. But God’s grace, love, and mercy, is everlasting. His desire is for us to repent so that we can have eternal life with Him. So naturally, that’s my favorite piece of it, because without His love, I’m nothing.”

It took maturing in his faith to come to that realization. David says he’s been “immersed” in the church his whole life. His grandfather was an elder in Tennessee, and his Christian high school actually met in a church when it first started out. He says that over time, though, he became distracted — consumed with his career. Unfortunately, that meant he’d left his time at church and his walk with the Lord on the backburner.

God, in His mercy, brought David back to Himself soon after he married Donna. “… I would say that that’s when I really started, you know, a personal looking in and developing a real relationship, you know, with the Lord,” he says. “I feel very, you know, strongly that Fellowship has helped, you know, cultivate my relationship with the Lord.” 

Donna’s faith journey shares similarities with her husband’s. She grew up going to church with her family as well. When she was on her own, though, she found herself wandering in life. 

It wasn’t until a providential encounter with a stranger that she was reminded of church. One day, she went to get the newspaper in her apartment complex. At the mailbox, she saw a gentleman in a suit and tie. She asked where he’d been, and he replied: church. “And I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I hadn’t been to church in forever. I think I’ll start going to church again.’” So began her return journey; and although she describes that later on she would experience another wayward period (as many of us do) where she treated her faith like a checklist and wasn’t making the best choices, God in His grace continuously pursued her throughout her life. 

One of the ways He did so was by stirring her affections for missions.

Donna recalls the story of when a few of her good friends had gone to Guatemala. There, they met a woman whose hands were dry and brittle. She’d never had lotion before. They told Donna that when they gave the woman lotion to try for the first time, she cried. That moved Donna and sparked a desire. Too, she’d always loved the song “Here I am, Lord,” which was inspired by Isaiah 6:8. Donna says, “That always touched my heart to think, maybe, ‘is it me?’ That’s actually what led me to want to do missions.” She was willing and ready for whenever the time should come. “I’d always hear it and think, you know, I’d always think, ‘I’ll go Lord, if you lead me…’”

David’s first brush with missions in 2016 — which led him to do several short-term trips in subsequent years — was the result of a simple invitation. A few of his coworkers at FedEx knew a woman who’d saved up money to buy land and open a girls’ home in Haiti. The home was facing some infrastructure issues, and his coworkers told her that Hoover was the man for the job. “I’ve always been the person that fixes things. I kind of grew up doing that. And, uh, put myself through college and flight training, doing construction work.” 

He added that the request really opened his eyes to what the Lord might have for him. “So when they approached me about going, it really made me kind of look around and go, ‘Hey, am I being called by God to go do something?’ So naturally I was like, you know, ecstatic, because it was the first time that I’d felt called.” He says joining someone’s effort to “be a light in the world” was “a real inspiration.” He was blown away by the founder’s vision and commitment, and He’s since completed various projects for the campus as needed. 

Once at Fellowship, David learned about a construction mission trip to Belize with World Gospel Outreach (WGO), an organization that facilitates medical, construction, and feeding outreaches, as well as the spreading of the Gospel, in both Belize and Honduras. David says that Belize has now “become, you know, what I feel like is my personal mission.” 

But life as they knew it was harshly interrupted in 2020. After the stroke, the doctors had to temporarily remove 50% of Donna’s skull, as well as keep her sedated for approximately a month and a half, to prevent her brain from swelling and bursting against it. They would wake her once a day for tests. In total, Donna was in the hospital for three months for recovery. 

For the first month and a half, David was only allowed in for two hours a day. Morning or afternoon visitation. “It was awful,” Donna says. The recovery and physical therapy process was long and grueling. Meanwhile, David hit the ground running on remodeling the home to be accessible for Donna for when she returned. His skills as a handyman were an extension of God’s provision, since they’d lost all of Donna’s income, plus half of his. You see, David dropped flying trips in order to spend more time with Donna. Not only that, but also, they eventually hired a full-time caregiver, Alana, to assist David.

Even still, the Lord continuously provided. 

“… there’s been a couple of times when I didn’t know how I was going to pay a bill, and the money would show up,” David says. One example comes from when he was able to buy back his vacation time at a 1.5 rate. Another occurred after the Little Rock tornado in March of 2023. Since it proved difficult to get ahold of his insurance provider during that time, David wasted no time. He got right to work sawing and removing a tree from his roof — and then began repairing it! Not only that, he also cleared the street of a tree that had taken out a telephone poll. Once the adjuster came out, David ended up receiving compensation for the work he completed on his house. 

The Hoovers also describe Alana as a “total God-send.” If Donna can’t find Alana, she knows where she is — back in her room, reading the Bible. Donna says she’s a wise sounding board who always points her back to the Lord whenever she gets stressed or anxious. “She’s been really good to me.”


Three years post-stroke, the Hoovers have found a new normal and rhythm for their lives, and Donna revisited the topic of missions. The couple approached Fellowship’s missions team about their desire, as well as their concerns, for Donna to go. Since the Belize trip’s purpose was construction, she asked, “‘what in the world can I do for construction?’” Pastor of Missions Rick Everswick replied, “‘Well just pray, Donna. Pray and talk to people.’” Donna thought, “‘Well, I can do that!’”

Against the odds, in May of 2023, the Hoovers went to Belize. 

Even though Alana was unable to accompany them, they decided that since the Lord had been so faithful to provide throughout Donna’s recovery, they would just go and trust Him. Donna had fears and concerns, to be sure, but in spite of all that, they went. 

David says that the trip down there showed him how much progress Donna had made since 2020. “Donna has flown three times since the stroke. And it was a real, you know, refresher for me, because I’ve been with her each time. Things that you see each day, you don’t notice as much progress,” he explains. “But when you do something once a year or once every six months, you can see a difference in the amount of strength and speed, you know, the ease at which it happens. So she was able to, you know, get on and off the airplane pretty easy this time, which was really, really nice.”

The Hoovers were also touched by the servant-heartedness of their trip companions to help Donna maneuver the city, carrying her in her wheelchair up staircases and the like. “Without the Lord and those people, the Lord working through those people, I couldn’t have made it,” Donna says.

The trip itself was lifegiving. For Donna, one highlight was sitting and talking with the kiddos who would come up to her and eat their lunch at recess. A moment that stood out in particular happened during a classroom visit. She recited Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Without skipping a beat, the teacher snapped, and the children started singing “This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made” in unison. 

Donna also experienced a shift in her walk with the Lord. It was, of course, no coincidence that this occurred in an area known as the Valley of Peace. “We had a service there at their church one night… I hate to say it, but… I don’t think that I felt the Holy Spirit in a long time. I really felt when we were in that service, and the people were singing and dancing and, you know, clapping their hands. And I really felt the Holy Spirit in that building.” The fact that that service helped his wife’s faith feel “filled” when it had been “running low” was incredibly uplifting and encouraging for David as well.

For his part, he was able to continue using his construction skills and expertise to bless the people there. The work primarily consisted of pouring and building concrete sidewalks for a local elementary school, which has several hundred students. Without sidewalks and proper shoes, it becomes difficult for the students to walk to their different buildings during the rainy season.

On David’s first trip to Belize in 2018, he and his team began construction work on a church in the Valley of Peace. Five years later, in May of 2023, the Hoovers and the team led vacation Bible school in that very same church. In spite of COVID and other difficulties, it was completed. “And that was the highlight for me, you know,” David recalls.

Of course, meeting those physical needs is critically important, as emphasized in James 2:16–17 (ESV): “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” Of paramount importance, though — and what meeting felt needs is meant to pave the way for — is sharing the Gospel. “It is our goal for everything we do to be done with the objective of building the Kingdom,” says Mike Ferguson, Executive Director and Chair of the WGO Board. “Although we are still re-building our teams from the devastating impact of Covid, we have seen our Serve Teams begin to grow back. In both Honduras and Belize, we saw over 1,000 first-time decisions for Christ.” 

Donna says that after coming home, she’s felt much better in the day-to-day. Between the enormous blessing of her full-time caretaker and profound impact of the Belize mission trip, she says her relationship with the Lord has been made stronger. “Seeing how faithful they are with the little that they have, seeing how faithful they are. It’s encouraged me to remind me what I do have.” She adds, “I might not be able to walk, but I have a whole lot of other things to be thankful for.” God willing, the Hoovers plan to be back in Belize in May of next year. As David puts it, “the Lord is at work in Belize. There’s no doubt.

In light of her experience, Donna offers a word of encouragement to believers who may be reticent about mission trips or are putting the idea off in their minds: “Do it now. Don’t wait and think, ‘I’ll do it next year.’ That’s what I found with this stroke, if you think, because I was laying on my couch that afternoon, and I thought, ‘I’ll go walk the dog, as soon as…’ — I’d had a headache, and I thought — ‘As soon as this headache goes away, I’m gonna go walk the dog.’ That never happened. Don’t think, ‘I’ll go on a mission trip next year.’ ‘I’ll go on a mission trip in two years,’ because you never know if you’re going to have a year or two years. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“I remember when Donna came in and mentioned she wanted to go. I was truly humbled by her obedience and trusting the Lord to use her,” Rick says. “It’s easy to find reasons we can’t go, but Donna’s story reminded me what God can do with someone surrendered to Him.”

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’” — Isaiah 6:8 (ESV)