ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–If one out of eight of Southern Baptists’ 43,000-plus churches would “adopt” a North American Mission Board missionary, all 5,000 of NAMB’s missionaries in the United States and Canada would receive much more prayer, encouragement and support.
Under NAMB’s new “Missionary Encourager” (adopt-a-missionary) initiative, Southern Baptist churches can personalize their missions commitments by adopting a North American missionary and his or her family.
“Everyone loves to cheer for the home team,” said Carol Baker, NAMB’s church relations consultant. “Southern Baptists’ home team is made up of 5,000 NAMB missionaries across North America. They are committed to winning North America for Christ. Southern Baptists’ encouragement and support will motivate them to continue the excellent but challenging work to which God has called them.”
Some NAMB missionaries need continual encouragement and prayer simply because their jobs not only are challenging but potentially dangerous.
“Jason” (name changed for security reasons) is a church-planting missionary in the San Francisco Bay area jointly supported by NAMB and the California Southern Baptist Convention. He ministers to Afghan Muslims, who number about 40,000 in the Bay area.
“It’s really helped me for my church partners to come in here and do prayerwalks, sports camps and other events,” Jason said. “It has opened their eyes to what ministering to other cultures is all about. It’s not only changed the lives of the Afghan refugees, but also of the churches’ members themselves.”
The Missionary Encourager program gives churches the opportunity of “not only praying for me, but actually working alongside me, learning another culture and what missions is about,” Jason said. “It gives them a face to go with a missionary.”
A church’s size doesn’t matter when it comes to adopting and encouraging missionaries, Jason added.
Four churches –- ranging in size from a 5,000-member church in Florida to a church of only 30 in Texas -– have adopted Jason, who hopes to travel to Afghanistan this coming summer with a former Afghan diplomat.
Bill Johnson, a 30-year-old single missionary in Georgia’s Stone Mountain Baptist Association, understandably appreciates the support of churches through Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
But financial support “doesn’t allow me to do all what needs to be done,” said Johnson, who works in community evangelism and volunteer recruiting. “That comes from you [church members] being a part of what I do.” Johnson also works with internationals in east metro Atlanta, including 52 language groups who worship in 10 different languages each Sunday.
“We’re not meant to be Lone Rangers out here,” Johnson said. “We’re very much in need of the church’s support. By partnering with us, they come on mission with us. We can’t do what we do apart from them. We are collectively working together to change the world and build the Kingdom of God.”
Partnering with Johnson in his ministry are a Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., and a women’s ministry group at Heritage Hills Baptist Church in Conyers, Ga.
Among the ways to provide encouragement to missionaries are making plans for regular prayer support; notes of encouragement, whether via e-mail, cards or letters; “care packages” with items and goodies the missionary and his/her family; mutual partnerships to send volunteers and mission teams to the missionary’s field of service; and missionary speaking invitations at worship services, mission fairs, conferences or during Annie Armstrong Easter Offering/North American Missions Emphasis during the first week of March each year.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. For additional information on how to adopt and encourage NAMB missionaries through NAMB’s Missionary Encourager initiative, go to www.namb.net/encourager or e-mail [email protected] To contact Carol Baker, call 1-800-749-7479, ext. 6357, or e-mail [email protected]