ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (BP)–At the foot of Albuquerque’s snow-capped Sandia Mountains at Hoffmantown Church, 128 new Southern Baptist missionaries and chaplains were commissioned for service by the North American Mission Board Feb. 25. It was the second-largest missionary commissioning in NAMB history.
During the service, which also was sponsored by Hoffmantown Church and the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, 116 missionaries and 12 SBC-endorsed chaplains introduced themselves following a processional featuring flags from each country, state and territory. Flag bearers were volunteers of different ages from Southern Baptist churches in the Albuquerque area.
The missionaries and chaplains represented 66 ministry locations in 29 states and one Canadian province.
Roy Fish, NAMB’s interim president who once served as an interim pastor at Hoffmantown, delivered the commissioning sermon.
“In the many things I’ve done in serving the North American Mission Board over the last year, the most thrilling and gratifying thing of all is to participate in one of these commissioning services,” Fish said.
Using “Advancing the Kingdom” as his sermon theme, Fish told the missionaries, chaplains and about 2,000 Hoffmantown members they can best advance the Kingdom through a renewal of desperate passion for the lost.
Looking squarely at the missionaries seated in the front rows, Fish told them to say to God, “God, if You’re truly calling me, I want my passion for souls deepened. God, I want You to show me what hell is like.”
“Advancing the Kingdom also requires a release of divine power,” Fish said. “Where you are ministering, things are going to happen that can’t be explained in terms of mere human activity. They’ll only be explained in terms of God’s release of divine power.”
Fish reminded the missionaries that they will be caught in the crossfire of warfare between God’s Kingdom and Satan’s kingdom.
“Sometimes you will be tempted to grow weary and lose your vital concern for people,” Fish said. “Your compassion gauge will fall to a terribly low point. You’ll be tempted to major in minors and give first-rate loyalty to second-rate causes. You’ll be tempted to become discouraged and depressed. Just remember you’re in a war and must resist the enemy.”
Two of the missionaries commissioned were Brian and Suzette Wood of Orlando, Fla. Suzette is resort ministries director for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association, where Disney World and other attractions make Orlando one of the top tourist destinations in the world, with 50 million visitors a year.
“It’s the culmination of your whole life, and how God has prepared you for this moment,” Suzette said in regard to being commissioned. “To be chosen to do the Lord’s work and to be sent out to represent all Southern Baptists is an honor and a privilege. It’s an awesome, awesome thing.”
Suzette said she gets a little teary-eyed every time she flies back into Orlando from a trip.
“I seem to sense Jesus telling me, ‘Look down, that’s your city.’ It’s neat to be able to touch the whole world without going outside the United States,” Suzette said, referring to the dozens of countries represented by the millions of visitors to Orlando.
Wayne A. Barber, senior pastor of the 55-year-old, 5,500-member Hoffmantown Church, said, “We have a lot of people out here who don’t know what a Southern Baptist truly is, and who are learning what a home missionary is. To most people, missionaries are all in Africa. They don’t realize that we have a home mission field here and that, in fact, New Mexico is a tremendous mission state.
“In hosting the commissioning service, we wanted to expose our people to what’s going on, to see Baptists at their very best, and to see what missions is really about,” said Barber, who has served at Hoffmantown for five years.
Each year, NAMB appoints hundreds of new missionaries in partnership with the 42 Baptist state conventions and the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. NAMB and the conventions work together in recruiting, selecting, appointing, training, funding and supporting missionaries.
NAMB also is the SBC entity charged with processing and endorsing chaplains for service in healthcare, prisons, law enforcement, the military and corporations.