HAMPTON, Va. (BP) — David Taylor never imagined himself on an overseas mission trip. But when his Bible study leader at North Carolina State University asked him to pray about a summer mission trip in 2002 to Asia, Taylor agreed.
Taylor subsequently made the trip, and it changed the direction of his life.
“I assumed I would get a job, get married, make a lot of money and raise a family,” said Taylor, one of 65 new missionaries appointed by IMB trustees at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va., on Aug. 28.
“God had different plans,” said Taylor, who will be serving in Southeast Asia with the mission board.
Belinda Oakes*, who will serve in Central Asia, went on a mission trip nearly every year from the time she was 12.
“God began stirring up a deep desire in my teenage heart to share the Gospel around the world,” Oakes said. “When I was 21 on a mission trip to the Americas … God called me to serve Him among the nations.”
After college, Oakes spent two years in Africa as an IMB journeyman. For Oakes, her appointment is simply the next step in obedience to God’s call to international service.
The implication of stories like these is not necessarily surprising — exposure to missions as a student is a first step toward long-term service. Of the new missionaries, 27 indicated that mission trips during high school and college sparked their initial passion for global outreach. Five others previously served with IMB through the Journeyman and ISC (International Service Corps) programs.
The appointment service comes as classes resume across the United States and hundreds of student missionaries begin sharing their summer international missions experiences through IMB.
Kirk Jefford*, a junior majoring in physics at Washington State University, ventured in his first international trip to East Asia where he taught English on university campuses. For Jefford, who served through a new IMB initiative called Face2Face, it was his first time to grasp “the true joy of sharing Jesus.”
Because of his experience, Jefford is rethinking his career goals. He plans to return overseas for six months as an IMB Hands On worker when he completes his undergraduate degree.
“I’ve got the bug,” Jefford said. “I need to go back. Those few months were awesome but they weren’t enough to cultivate relationships. I wish I could have stayed longer.”
Allison Partinton*, who grew up as the daughter of missionaries in Japan, served with a Nehemiah Team in remote villages in the central Philippines along the Oras River.
While her experiences in the villages were much different from her life as a child in Japan or as a college student in the United States, Partinton’s work taught her the importance of embracing the unreached. That message echoes the consistent call sounded by IMB President Tom Elliff, one he reiterated in the Aug. 28 service.
Preaching from Ephesians 6:18-20, Elliff challenged the audience to pray Spirit-initiated and Spirit-informed prayers — reminding them to pray that missionaries will be “faithful in the message and bold in the mystery of the Gospel” among the world’s hardest-to-reach people in the hardest-to-reach places.
Like many students, Partinton understands the challenge.
“Unreached people groups are real. They are out there,” she said. “I realized that where I want to be and what I want to do is to go where other people aren’t going or can’t go.”
If this group of recently appointed missionaries is any indication, the future of world missions is promising. One day Jefford and Partinton may also stand in the place of Taylor and Oakes, commissioned as career missionaries for the sake of reaching the nations.
“Whether it’s back to the river or somewhere new,” Partintin said, “I want to be where people haven’t had a chance to hear the Gospel.”
*Names changed. Tess Rivers is a writer with the International Mission Board. For more information on IMB student opportunities, visit imbstudents.org. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).