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61 new IMB missionaries appointed

CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP)–As “Jennifer” held the hand of a dying man in the intensive care unit of a hospital, she knew God was calling her to a career in missions.

A nurse for the past five years, Jennifer had already felt God’s call to missions. As she watched that particular encounter with eternity, she realized that people are dying every day without a relationship with Jesus Christ. She is unable to share her real name because soon she will be traveling with her family to an area resistant to the Gospel.

“I knew it was now time to tell an unreached people about the Great Physician,” Jennifer told a crowd during an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary appointment service March 3 at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

Jennifer and her husband were among 61 missionaries appointed that evening. The total number of IMB missionaries now stands at 5,413. And many like Jennifer and her husband are working in areas that are resistant to the Gospel.

“It’s our job to go to the world,” said Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church.

“It’s not our job to tell the world to come to us.

“One day we’re going to make it to heaven and … we’re going to see people of every nationality, every tongue, every skin color, every kind of person you can imagine … so many different kinds of people and yet all people created in the image of God,” he said.

One new appointee shared how her work with international students while attending college confirmed her heart for the nations — especially those in South Asia.

“They heard about Jesus for the first time,” said the woman. “I became burdened for all nations to know Him.”

Another shared how her trip to the gym in a Muslim country confirmed her call to career missions.

“While exercising, a woman approached me,” she said. “She whispered that she’d seen me in a dream, and God told her I could explain how to be saved. When she accepted Christ, God confirmed His call on my life to be a light.”

Many others around the world, like that Muslim woman in the gym, are discovering that God speaks their language, said Gordon Fort, IMB’s vice president of overseas operations.

Fort, who served 11 years in Botswana with his wife and children, told how some of the villagers reacted when they saw the “JESUS” film translated into the language of Setswana.

“Those people were startled and astounded that Jesus spoke their language,” he said.

“As people around the world discover that Jesus Christ died on the cross for every language, every people, every tribe, every nation, they are being transformed.”

Fort told about a Muslim-background believer in Bangladesh who was tortured by a group of Muslims and told to recant his faith or they’d cut off all his fingers.

The man replied, “You can cut my body into a thousand pieces, and every piece will cry out the name of Jesus.”

Fort asked, “Why would a man do this?

“Jesus spoke their language,” he added. “[God] knew their heart and their longing for spiritual truth, and they were putting their faith in Jesus Christ.”

During the past three years, IMB missionaries and their Baptist partners have baptized an average of 500,000 people a year, Fort said.

Jerry Rankin, IMB president, challenged those in the crowd to join God’s work overseas.

“The call to missions is not just for an elite few such as these sent by the International Mission Board,” Rankin said.

Too many people are not going to the mission field because they claim God has not called them, Rankin said. But the Great Commission was given to every church and every believer, he added.

“Many times we have a stereotypical idea of what a missionary is — a pastor, church staff or seminary graduate,” he said. “Did you hear those testimonies tonight? … A businessman, doctor, teacher or coach.”

“How grateful we are that we’re able to send out these 61 new missionaries,” he added. “But how many more will it take? How many more until the whole world knows Jesus?”
Alan James is a writer for the International Mission Board, online at www.imb.org.

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