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114 journeymen commissioned for ‘front-line’ IMB assignments

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (BP) -In one of the largest journeyman commissioning services yet, 114 college graduates accepted a challenge from the Southern Baptist International Mission Board to take their callings and talents across the world to spread the gospel.
Located near the sprawling national capital and historic home of the IMB in Richmond, Va., First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., was filled to capacity for the June 27 commissioning service.
“Who knows what God’s aim is for you?” said Avery Willis, senior vice president of IMB overseas operations in the charge to the journeymen. “He’s claimed you, he has a name for you, and he’s going to reclaim you so you can proclaim his name.”
Willis exhorted the journeymen to remember the Apostle Peter, whom Jesus used in spite of Peter’s failures. In times of discouragement or personal shortcoming on the field, God can still use a faithful witness, he said.
“We’ll be surprised afresh how God reclaims us,” he said.
All 114 journeymen circled the sanctuary singing “Song for the Nations” as the closing hymn, and the congregation joined hands for the prayer of dedication and benediction.
Rob Darnell, from Raleigh, N.C., said he became interested in missions after a project in Africa. “It was the hardest six weeks of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said. “A fascination for missions just began to grow in my heart. … It has become my heart’s desire.”
Darnell, who pulled out of seminary temporarily to become a journeyman, plans to serve in refugee camps in the Netherlands.
“Refugees are dying for friendship,” he said. “It’s hard for Americans to understand because there are no refugee camps here. You can see it in their eyes. They’re begging for hope and a different life than the one they just left.”
Not all journeymen had been expecting God’s call, including two who will serve as strategy coordinator interns in Asia.
“It was a lot of breaking of myself and breaking of my will,” said one journeyman, while another said, “God changed my heart and my desire for the area. He has been faithful to show me his hand in all of it.”
These and several other journeymen cannot be identified because they will be serving in areas that are not open to Christian witness.
Journeymen are commissioned twice a year following a four-week orientation at the board’s Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Va., where they study cross-cultural relations and spiritually and emotionally prepare for their departure. Most of them will be leaving for their overseas assignments in the next few weeks.
Robert Shehane, who helps coordinate journeyman orientation, said the new workers are going more places and doing more direct missions than ever before.
“We have all sorts of very creative ways in which journeymen go into restricted-access countries as teachers, agriculturists, language students and more,” he said.
These “Indiana Jones” assignments, as Shehane called them, have opened doors for evangelism overseas in such a way that IMB strategy relies more and more on their productivity.
“Journeymen are going to continue to perform more front-line missions assignments,” he said.

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  • Jenny Rogers