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Courage, commitment noted of new missionary appointees

HOUSTON (BP)–Riding the crest of historic increases in missionary appointments, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board’s first appointment service of 1999 spotlighted the obedience and courage required to serve God in the far-flung corners of the world.
More than half the new Southern Baptist international missionaries appointed in the Jan. 26 service at Houston’s First Baptist Church will go to locations around the world that only a few years ago seemed by human standards impossible to penetrate with the gospel.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and surprising recent windows of opportunities in Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and remaining communist areas, however, the new missionaries will join the growing IMB missionary force that in recent years has become truly global in scope.
Nevertheless, because of security issues involved in many of these new areas, many of the new missionaries will join the growing list of IMB workers who can never be listed on traditional SBC missionary birthday lists or written about in news releases. To do so could jeopardize their ministries or possibly even their lives.
Twenty-eight career and associate personnel were appointed and 27 new International Service Corps workers were recognized in the service.
“Many of you are going as teachers or through business platforms to join others in restricted countries that have succumbed to godless teachings that have brought despair,” IMB President Jerry Rankin told the new missionaries.
Rankin used the metaphor found in Romans 10:15 to describe the commitment and courage of missionaries who are willing to go wherever God leads: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
“We don’t normally think of feet as being beautiful,” Rankin said. “In judging a person’s appearance, we may observe that a lady has beautiful hair, or hands, or even a guy may have a beautiful complexion or beautiful eyes, but not feet. To the contrary, our feet may be everything but beautiful.
“But in God’s perspective these feet are beautiful, because they are obedient feet, going where God has called them,” the IMB president said. “They are beautiful because they are going to proclaim the gospel, the good news of peace.”
Rankin said missionaries today deserve to win the “most beautiful feet” award because of their willingness to carry the gospel literally to the ends of the earth.
“Some of you are going to unreached people groups that, amazingly, have never heard the name of Jesus,” he said. “They have been isolated culturally and geographically in places where missionaries have never been allowed. They are lost in sin, not because they have rejected Jesus Christ or because they don’t want to be saved, but they have never heard of him on whom they must call.
“Some of you will be going to villages in the Andes Mountains of Peru or to isolated valleys in the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia to bring the good news of salvation,” he said. “Some are going to do medical work or agriculture and development, but as you minister to people, never forget that you are going to tell them how they can have peace with God, a peace that eradicates differences and discrimination, but primarily a peace that bridges that chasm of sin and reconciles them to God.”
Turning from the new missionaries to the Tuesday night audience of about 1,200 people, Rankin urged Southern Baptists everywhere to consider walking the same paths.
“You may rejoice in these who are being commissioned and think what a blessing this service has been. You may say, ‘I’m going to pray for them and support them, but these feet are staying right here.’
“If you are unwilling for your feet to walk through the sands of the African desert, or through the war-torn streets of Bosnia, or on the jungle trails of the Amazon, then how will they hear? How will they know? How can they call on the Lord?”

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  • Louis Moore