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Get ready before you go to Rome, Kammerdiener urges seminarians

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–“It is a dangerous thing to try to do something before you are prepared,” said Don Kammerdiener, executive vice president of the International Mission Board, in the opening address of Global Missions Week at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A graduate of Midwestern, he once served as a Southern Baptist missionary to Columbia and Argentina and as area director for Middle America and the Caribbean.
“One way or another we are all headed for Rome,” Kammerdiener said April 13 at the Kansas City, Mo., seminary as he referred to Paul’s statement in Romans 1, “As much as is in me I am ready to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”
Kammerdiener said, “If we are obedient to the Lord’s commandment to be involved in what he is doing around the world, some of you will go physically to the Romes of this world, but others of you will stay and you will support what God is doing in Rome by leading your people to be faithful in that mission.”
He urged students not to go to Rome before they were ready, outlining what is involved in preparing for the task of missions. Spiritual self-understanding and awareness is the first step, he said, referring to Romans 1:14.
“Paul had self-awareness of who he was spiritually,” Kammerdiener explained, noting the contrast to the tendency of Americans to think “we don’t owe anything to anybody.” A person will never be ready for Rome until he all he understands about himself is that his life is a gift of God’s grace, he said.
Secondly, those preparing must become learners before trying to teach anybody anything, Kammerdiener said. “The missionary who goes overseas with the idea that as an American he has got the answers to all the questions and he is going to share those answers is not ready for Rome,” he said, noting Paul’s example in learning about the faith and culture of those to whom he was going.
“You are going to find your faith challenged as it never has been before,” Kammerdiener said, referring to hundreds of millions with no knowledge or regard of Christ and others who think they have the way to God. “They are going to look down on you as the representative of a decadent society. And how are you going to say otherwise?”
By having gospel conviction, Kammerdiener said candidates discover the power of God to salvation. He cautioned against missionaries thinking if they had enough American dollars they could transform the world. “The Scripture says that it is the gospel that is the power of God to transform the world.”
Kammerdiener blamed the western world for transmitting a lack of belief in absolute truth, prompting today’s Romes to adopt cultural relativism. As a result, they have become hostile to the gospel and often dismiss those who present the claims of Christ, he said.
“Firemen have a habit of going where the fire is,” concluded Kammerdiener. “Missionaries who are ready for Rome go where there is hostility toward the preaching of the gospel of love. Don’t think you can go to Rome if you are not ready to face Rome as it is. Once you do, get ready — some wonderful things will happen.”

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  • Larry B. Elrod