MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Jerry Rankin, president emeritus of the International Mission Board, told 175 people attending Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s 50th annual Missions Conference to beware of an enemy of the Gospel.
“We have an enemy that is dead set in defeating us in our Christian life. This enemy attempts to influence us to have a mediocre Christian life so that we never have an impact on the world,” Rankin said.
“It’s all about reaching the lost people of the world. For God so loved the world — not just our world of shopping malls and materialism, but the world of refugees, of unreached people groups living in darkness and alienated from God.”
Rankin, who has written two books on spiritual warfare, told those at the conference — with the theme “Engage! Spiritual Warfare & Missions” — that God’s people are to carry the Good News to the ends of the earth, regardless of spiritual warfare.
“The enemy speaks into our minds to rationalize away the urgency to go to the mission field,” Rankin said. “Satan tries to convince us that witnessing to missions, to a particular people group, is an option. But God called us to declare the glory among the nations.”
Rankin encouraged attendees to “be willing to risk the dangers, challenges and the discomfort to walk in faith and utilize the weapons of victory we have been provided in Christ. Awareness of the enemy and understanding his tactics will enable us to avoid defeat, diversions and distractions in fulfilling our mission.”
In addition to Rankin’s three lectures, the Feb. 18-19 conference included six breakout seminars on topics such as human trafficking, folk Islam, spiritual opposition on the mission field, opportunities with the IMB, ministry to California’s migrant farm workers, and sports to reach the lost in restricted access countries.
Crystal Lewis, a Golden Gate student, particularly was interested in the human trafficking seminar.
“I recently formed a women’s support group in Marin City, Calif., and we’re seeing a lot of spiritual warfare to this group. They are unchurched, unsaved, struggling with addiction and prostitution. I’m so glad the seminary is talking about this topic,” Lewis said.
Saturday afternoon’s activities included an Urban Excursion. Accompanied by Golden Gate students, attendees went to several areas in the city to pray, observe and engage people.
Simultaneously, a women’s prayer tea was hosted by Bobbye Rankin and focused on prayer for Muslim women. This people group makes up one-10th of the world’s population yet has less access to the Gospel than anyone in the world.
A two-unit course, “Spiritual Warfare and Issues on the Mission Field,” was held in conjunction with the conference. Laura Reynolds, a missiology student who enrolled in the course, said having Rankin as the main speaker at the conference “made the event motivating.” Reynolds leads a college group with her husband at San Francisco Mandarin Baptist Church.
“Dr. Rankin has so much knowledge to share and is very encouraging to all of us. I appreciate the valuable information I’ve learned about missions and spiritual warfare,” she said.
Wing Lem, pastor of San Francisco Mandarin Baptist Church and a recent Golden Gate graduate, brought eight people from his church to the conference, including six students from the college group.
“I thought the workshop on Islam was very informational,” Lem said. “It was helpful to learn how to become effective in our ministry to Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
A workshop titled “Islam: The Spiritual, The Powerful, The Occult” was led by Abigail Davis, a regional director for The Crescent Project. Davis noted that Muslims are spiritual people, and she encouraged her listeners to “tell your Muslim friends about Jesus’ power over demons. When you’re dealing with spiritual warfare, there is power in the spoken name of Jesus.”
Eddie Pate, director of Golden Gate’s Kim School of Global Missions, said Rankin’s messages on spiritual warfare “challenged our students and other participants to see the enemy’s role in keeping the nations in darkness.”
Phyllis Evans is director of communications at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Ca.