Phil started attending church at Baptist Temple in Springfield, Missouri through the bus ministry when he was three years old. He grew up under the ministry of Dr. W.E. Dowell and gave his heart to the Lord when he was a freshman in high school. Soon after, he surrendered his life to full time ministry while at a summer youth camp. After a year of college, Phil joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Presidential Guard in Washington D.C. He completed one term in the Corps and then returned to Springfield, MO to complete his education at Baptist Bible College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Missions and Bible in May, 2003.
Phil served on staff at Baptist Temple in Springfield, MO while completing his education at Baptist Bible College. During this time, he served in a variety ministries; from youth to young adult, and the bus ministry. Phil surrendered to the mission field in the fall of 2000. He felt the Lord burdening his heart for missions while attending the Missions Emphasis Week at BBC. Vala was saved when she was nine years old at a small church in Texas. When she was nineteen she joined Bellview Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri by baptism. A few months after joining Bellview, Vala surrendered her life to the Lord. Phil and Vala were married in February 1996. The Lord has allowed them to serve side-by-side in ministry throughout their marriage. As newlyweds they served in the youth ministry as lay leaders and have continued to work alongside each other in whatever the Lord calls them to do. In 2003, after graduating from Bible College, the Longs began deputation to go to Scotland. They moved to Scotland in April 2006. Shortly afterward, the exchange rate for the British Pound rose sharply. The Longs continued to serve in Scotland until they finally had to return home in order to raise more support to counteract the ever-increasing exchange rate. In September 2007, Phil and Vala arrived in Lee’s Summit, MO to stay in a missions house while Phil traveled to raise additional support. To their dismay, the Lord closed the door for them to return to Scotland. However, God had a plan; He opened the door for Phil to join the staff at Abundant Life Baptist Church as the Outreach Pastor. Phil began his new position in March 2008 and Vala joined the staff in 2009. The Lord used the time at Abundant Life to teach and prepare Phil and Vala to better serve Him in ministry. What a privilege it has been for them to see so many people accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and be discipled in their new faith! Phil’s passion is preaching and teaching the Word of God. He has had the opportunity to teach adult and children’s classes as well as preach on several occasions, but one of the biggest joys for Phil and Vala is the two young marrieds classes that they have led on Sunday mornings. It has been a tremendous blessing to see the Lord mold and shape these couples as Phil and Vala have walked through some very difficult challenges with many of them. As the Outreach Pastor, Phil has also been blessed with the opportunity to build bridges from the church into the community through partnering with the public school system, ministering as a chaplain with the police department, and leading many special outreach events.
Vala served on the staff at Abundant Life for over four years. She enjoys serving people whenever needed, but her heart’s desire is teaching ladies about her Savior and their true value in Him. She has also enjoyed being involved in the Worship Ministry and coordinating several short term mission trips for the church. Phil and Vala have four children: Tabitha, Phillip, Gabriel, and Deacon. It is has been the biggest joy of Phil and Vala’s lives to see their children use their gifts to serve the Lord.
In November 2013, the Lord began stirring in the hearts of Phil and Vala to return to missions work, and specifically to Africa. As they began to pray about where they should serve, the Lord impressed upon them that His desire was for them to serve where there is not a large missionary presence.
As they began to study and dig into the missions work on the African continent, they discovered that Madagascar has very few missionaries working there. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, it’s about the size of Texas, and it is home to over 22 million people. The scientific community of the world pours millions of dollars into studying the plant and wildlife on the island while the people have been all but forgotten.
But they have not been forgotten by God! He has given a call for people who will take the message of Life to the Malagasy people, and the Long family have answered that call. They are willing to go where God leads and tell the people of Madagascar that there is one source of Life! It cannot be found in worshiping their ancestors or in the Baobab tree; the only true source of Life is Jesus Christ!