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Former missionary to help Saddleback reach unreached

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–A former Southern Baptist missionary to East Asia will help Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., launch a major new world missions initiative.

Curtis Sergeant, currently associate vice president for global strategies at the International Mission Board in Richmond, Va., announced Feb. 23 that he will join Saddleback’s ministry staff to help implement the congregation’s “P.E.A.C.E. Plan.”

The plan focuses on 3,200 people groups that still have no access to the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

“The International Mission Board has set a goal of engaging all unreached people groups with more than 100,000 population by the end of 2005,” Sergeant said. “That’s a wonderful goal that will require a God-sized stretch.

“Unfortunately, when we meet that goal, there will still be around 3,200 unreached people groups of less than 100,000 population that are not engaged by anyone. It would be many years before missionaries would be able to get the Gospel to these peoples,” Sergeant said of the plan to mobilize members of the Saddleback and other congregations to tackle the challenge of reaching those last unreached people groups.

P.E.A.C.E. is an acronym that stands for Plant reproducing churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation.

“Over the past year I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and praying about what God wants to do through our church,” said Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback, which averages about 22,000 in attendance each weekend, and author of two best-sellers, “The Purpose-Driven Life” and “The Purpose-Driven Church.”

“We’ve concluded that there are five great giants or problems in the world,” Warren said. “And we designed the P.E.A.C.E. Plan to help local churches address those problems. No government can or wants to handle them, and if you add together all the great relief agencies of the world, their sincere and committed efforts are still only a drop in the bucket compared to the problems in the world.

“Yet, the church is God-powered to take on these problems even as we proclaim the Good News,” Warren said. “There are more churches than any other organization in the world — with the biggest army of volunteers — and we have the longevity to get the task done. We’re the only entity on the planet that God has promised will last into eternity!

“Curtis Sergeant will play a key role as we implement the P.E.A.C.E. Plan and we are blessed he is able to join us,” Warren said.

A native of El Dorado, Kan., Sergeant is the son of Southern Baptist missionaries to East Asia. He and his wife, the former Debra Bowser of Springfield, Mass., were appointed by the International Mission Board in 1991. He served as a strategy associate on the board’s East Asia leadership team until 2002, when he resigned to join the agency’s home office staff in Richmond, Va.

Sergeant is a bachelor’s and master’s graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Prior to missionary appointment, he served on the faculty of a mission school in Taichung, Taiwan, and as associate pastor of Bowles Memorial Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas.

He will join the Saddleback staff in late June.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: CURTIS SERGEANT.

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