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7/31/97 New journeymen will use 2 years to alter eternity

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Two years can seem like an eternity, especially for young people recently graduated from college. Often careers are begun, weddings are planned and momentous decisions are made during this time.
For 82 young adults commissioned July 20 as the first class of journeymen under the recently renamed International Mission Board (IMB), the next two years will be a great time to make a difference for eternity.
The group comes from colleges and universities all across the United States. Some have seminary degrees and some are considering missionary service. Others are unsure of their future plans.
They will work as English teachers, language students, youth ministers, evangelists and church planters, and in a variety of other positions. But they all have this in common: a desire to serve God and spread the gospel around the world.
While all of them soon will be apart from their natural environment and making the transition to another culture, many will be serving in unstable and newly opened areas. Tim Berry of Royal, Ark., decided to forego seminary to serve in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; he and five others will join six journeymen already working in the nation that, not too long ago, was a war zone.
Twenty-three journeymen will serve in “The Last Frontier,” among people groups with little or no access to the gospel. They say they sense the excitement of participating in the first mission work in these areas.
“Why you, and not others?” asked IMB President Jerry Rankin in a charge to the journeymen during the commissioning service.
He contrasted them with others of their generation, saying their decision to serve shows they have put obedience to Christ before success and personal fulfillment. Their decision, Rankin said, was a result of God’s grace in their lives — the same grace that will empower and sustain them through trials and uncertainties that will inevitably appear during the next two years.
To prepare for their assignments, journeymen spend four weeks at the IMB’s Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Va. They attend classes on spiritual formation and aspects of cross-cultural ministry, while learning more about their specific assignment and region. It is an important bonding time as they develop a network of new friends who can identify with their unique concerns.
Some concerns journeymen mentioned in recent interviews include fear of the unknown, missing events at home (holidays, weddings, birthdays, etc.), language study, safety and loneliness. They were quick to point out they are just Christians who have decided to become part of something larger than themselves.
“A lot of times, people put missionaries up on a pedestal,” said Cherilyn Amick, who will serve in Kobe, Japan. “We’re real people, with real struggles.”
Nearly 3,000 young adults have participated in the journeyman program since its inception in 1965.
This group contains a set of identical twins: Carter and Clayton Hemphill of Dallas. Carter, a graduate of Baylor University, will be teaching English as a Second Language in Hakodate, Japan. Clayton, a Samford University alumnus, will use his accounting skills in central Asia.
“It’s exciting for both of us to be doing this together,” Carter said. “But it’s important that we’ve each come to this decision independently.”
Participation in the program has grown recently. The addition of this class increases the number of journeymen on the field to more than 200. In his message, Rankin expressed the desire to send 1,000 journeymen in the near future.
The times also have changed — many journeymen said they hope to use e-mail to keep in touch with friends and family.
During the service, groups of journeymen demonstrated through music and drama different aspects of the call to missions they have felt. A combined choir expressed their commitment as they sang, “Here I am … I will go … If you lead … I will go with your people in my heart.”

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  • Andrew Black