WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry. Martin and Gracia Burnham. Veronica and Charity Bowers.
All these missionaries — the first four who have endured captivity, the latter two who were killed in the mistaken downing of a plane – have known how dangerous spreading the gospel can be, Jerry Rankin said as he challenged students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to follow God’s plan for world outreach.
Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, spoke at Southeastern’s chapel service on Global Missions Day, which is set aside each semester to encourage students who feel called to take the gospel overseas.
Southeastern President Paige Patterson said that while an unprecedented 20 percent of Southeastern’s students are training to be international missionaries, having a special foreign missions emphasis each semester — and bringing missions leaders like Rankin to campus — “keeps it before our people.”
Binkley Chapel’s altar was filled with students during the Feb. 28 chapel service committing to go, as Rankin exhorted, “wherever the Lord leads.”
The reason that some parts of the world are so dangerous to Westerners in general and Christians in particular is that the church has not been diligent in praying for and reaching those areas, Rankin asserted.
“It’s not really likely that the tragedy of Sept. 11 would have occurred if the people of God had been lifting before the throne of God the nations … who have been responsible for such attacks,” Rankin said. “The reason so many people have failed to trust Christ is that Christians have failed to go.”
Rankin noted that only a few years ago it seemed inconceivable to most missionaries that Russia and other former communist states would ever be open to the gospel.
Now, it’s the barrier of the Muslim world that seems impenetrable, Rankin said, adding it is no match for the good news of Christ.
“God is shaking the nations and that Muslim barrier is beginning to crumble,” Rankin said. “There is no government regulation, there is no cultural barrier that can keep a sovereign God from making himself known to a people.
“When will they hear the joyful sound that we’ve heard so often and take for granted?”
International Mission Board missionaries came to Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus for the missions emphasis to answer students’ questions about life on the field. Mark and Pam Grumbles, 20-year veterans of mission work in Middle America, are Southeastern alumni who said Global Missions Day gave them an opportunity to see firsthand the excitement about missions on Southeastern’s campus.
“It’s exciting to share what’s going on,” Mark Grumbles said. “We hope that some will come and join us.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ZAMBIA & THE WORLD and ASIAN POSSIBILITIES.