DENVER (BP)–During a trip to Peru, Tony Llorens looked into the eyes of the people and knew without a doubt this was where he needed to be. But his preparation for missionary service at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary brought hardship to his family.
“Because of the limited job opportunities in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, my wife and children had to remain in Florida while I earned money for lodging by cleaning toilets in the campus dorm where I stayed,” Tony recalled.
With his master’s degree completed, he returned to his family in Milton, Fla., in 2008. He and his wife then began the application process for appointment as Southern Baptist missionaries.
Tony and Tammy Llorens were among 101 missionaries appointed by the International Mission Board May 20 at Riverside Baptist Church in Denver. This service was the fourth-largest appointment in the organization’s history. The appointees will join more than 5,600 others already on the field.
“It is our intention, with the help of the Lord, to serve Him by taking the Gospel to those who have never heard,” Tammy said.
Chuck and Vikki Franks of Jonesboro, Ark., have the same purpose. They knew the Lord was calling them to the mission field; however, both were content to wait until retirement. The Lord had other plans.
While serving together in Poland on a short-term mission trip in 2008, God used a father and child praying before an icon to show Vikki that the world could not wait. So, well before retirement, the Franks are packing up their things and “joyfully, obediently going to Eastern Europe,” Chuck said.
Yong and Lois Wang, another couple headed to the mission field, moved from Korea to the United States in 1998 so Yong could prepare to serve overseas in a university setting. In 2006, he earned a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. Eleven years after their journey began, the Wangs are finally on their way.
“I … want to live by obeying the Great Commission … wherever I go,” Lois said. “I learned that mission is not a special thing but a natural life at the place that God calls.”
And that place is Central America, where Yong will teach at a university.
JONAH AND THE WHALE
The story of Jonah and the whale is at times overshadowed by its uniqueness, IMB President Jerry Rankin told the new appointees, noting that the story’s message is not about the whale swallowing Jonah, but rather of a “rejected call, a second chance and God’s compassion being revealed.”
The message of this Old Testament story is still relevant today, Rankin noted. And it is a challenge to those who go in obedience to God’s call. His urgent concern for Nineveh is the same He has for the cities of the world today, Rankin said.
Some people who sense God’s call to overseas missions try to bargain with God, saying they’ll serve Him in America by being faithful church members and witnesses, Rankin said.
“The only problem is, God was calling you to Nineveh,” he said. “Meanwhile multitudes of unreached people groups perished without anyone to tell them of the hope they would find in Jesus Christ.”
According to Romans 10:14-15, “But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?”
“That is why we are appointing you and sending you out — to answer that call,” Rankin said. “Like Jonah, not to save the nations through your efforts, through anything that you can do or through your advice, but as Jonah, to proclaim the Word of the Lord.”
FUTURE APPOINTMENT SERVICES
Because of an anticipated shortfall in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and a decrease in Cooperative Program giving during the current economic downturn, the IMB will limit the number of new missionaries appointed for the rest of the year after a July appointment service in Lebanon, Ohio. (See “Troubled economy causes IMB to scale back missionary appointments” at bpnews.net, May 21, for more details.)
Emilee Brandon is a writer for the International Mission Board.