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God answers New Mexico church’s specific prayer for missions partnership

Lance Borden, IMB missionary to Vienna, Austria, preaches at First Baptist Church of West Albuquerque earlier this year on the church's Missions Engagement Sunday. Photo from Facebook

ALBUQUERQUE (BP) – In 2021, the staff of First Baptist Church of West Albuquerque began to pray about what God would have the church do about a mission strategy. Refusing to take a “shotgun” approach to missions or throw a dart at a map, the team at First Baptist sought to develop a long-term partnership with missionaries on the field.

Also in 2021, the International Mission Board began “Church Connections,” a program whose goal was connecting each Southern Baptist church with a missionary. The staff’s prayers were soon answered when they received an email from IMB missionaries seeking to connect with churches stateside. The email conversation led the church to take steps toward missions engagement and, ultimately, the idea of an international mission trip.

“We were just praying the day before about missions, and the next day I got an email from Lance and Carrie,” Stephen Baum, First Baptist senior pastor, told the Baptist New Mexican. Lance and Carrie Borden are IMB missionaries in Vienna, Austria. Originally from Amarillo, they reached out to churches in their region of the United States. As the relationship between the Bordens and First Baptist continued to grow via Zoom calls and emails, church members stepped up to pray about how the church should engage in missions.

Three church members approached Baum and asked to meet weekly to pray about missions. The group has since been meeting at the church almost every Tuesday evening since August 2022.

“We were talking about different ideas and ways to engage people. We talked about ways to get missions opportunities in front of the church,” Baum said. Members that attended the prayer gathering mentioned previous experiences with days or weeks on the church calendar devoted to missions.

“I liked the idea of putting actual faces to our prayers. But what if we do more than just meet them [missionaries]? What if we invite them to teach us something?” he said.

Soon, the church planned a “micro-conference” focused on local and international missions engagement. Church leaders invited outsiders to come and teach – Jay Liebold, director of the University of New Mexico Challenge (UNM Challenge); Justin Pearson, pastor of Restore Church, Albuquerque; and the directors of Casa de Mariposa were all invited to lead breakout groups.

The church searched for a fourth person/couple to lead a group, and it happened that the Bordens would be in town the weekend of the event. When Baum contacted them, they were excited about the idea.

“Our relationship with them [the Bordens] has continued to blossom,” Baum said. “It has been good in a lot of ways. I think pastor Danny [Marsh, pastor of music and media] and myself have developed a real friendship with them. Their philosophy of ministry is very similar to mine; there is like-mindedness between us as leaders.”

On March 5, 2023, the church hosted its Missions Engagement Sunday. Lance preached the Sunday service, and as the service concluded, church members were free to join the breakout groups they were interested in. The Bordens shared what doing ministry is like in a post-Christian society and how New Mexico Baptists can continue to share the Gospel despite the drift away from Christianity in the U.S.

Early in the Bordens’ relationship with First Baptist, Lance mentioned wanting a two-way connection with church – a partnership where First Baptist would send members to Vienna and the missionaries would send members of their church back to Albuquerque.

“Most of the time when you talk about missions partnerships in the U.S. it is sending missionaries to other parts of the world, not so much both ways,” Baum said.

After spending time with the Bordens when they were stateside and as they interacted in person with church members, Baum said he knew he had to find a way to make the partnership work.

“There is just so much commonality here, and the Lord seems to be giving us a lot of favor with each other,” he said. “I thought to myself that I had to find a way to visit them on the ground where they are.”

Days before heading back to Vienna from their trip stateside, Lance sent Baum an email mentioning the possibility of a trip to visit them in Austria.

Through a partnership with the IMB’s Go Experience program, First Baptist is now planning a trip to Frankfurt, Germany, where the team will learn evangelism and discipleship strategies at an international level and get the chance to put actions to the prayers they have been praying.

The trip is planned for Sept. 22-30, 2023. The staff of First Baptist hopes they will be able to visit the Bordens in Vienna during the trip to share what they will have learned in Frankfurt to assist the Bordens in their ministry.

“We want to develop partnerships that are more than just ‘this is where we go every year.’ We want to develop actual friendships, relationships that are mutually supportive. I mean really linking arms with those we work with,” Baum said.

“None of this would have happened if it weren’t for three faithful church members who asked to pray about missions.”

This story originally appeared in the Baptist New Mexican.

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  • Isaiah Unland/Baptist New Mexican