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IMB appointments increase despite Satan’s opposition

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Satan will try to use every means available, including recent terrorist attacks in Egypt and Pakistan, to discourage new missionaries, warns Southern Baptist International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin.
Rankin’s comments and the appointment of 55 new missionaries came Nov. 21 during a first-ever service on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, in conjunction with the school’s Global Mission Week. Veteran missionaries and IMB staff were on campus all week.
The appointments brought the number of new missionaries this year to more than 600, continuing a five-year upward trend. Nearly 4,300 IMB missionaries are now under assignment.
Using the seminary’s chapel for the appointment service was a reminder to the 80-year-old school that “it is our duty to spend our lives changing the world,” said seminary President Chuck Kelley.
The new missionaries will soon head to mission fields spanning the entire globe, including places in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa that once seemed permanently closed to Christian work, where now, IMB leaders say, God is moving in unprecedented ways to draw lost people to himself.
For instance, appointee Dianne Williford, who will serve in Russia with her husband, Robert, told how, at age 16 before the Soviet Union collapsed, she stood in front of a map of Russia and heard God say that someday he would open that country and send her there as a missionary.
Others said God called them to overseas service while they were engaged in such wide-ranging activities as serving in Operation Desert Storm; sitting in a Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center auditorium darkened by a fierce summer thunderstorm; helping their church adopt a people group to support with prayer; and looking for ways God could use athletic talents.
Appointee backgrounds include the pastorate, medicine, law, businesses, sports, education and public relations. Such fields, and others, are reflected in appointees’ overseas assignments.
Rankin warned the new missionaries Satan will do anything he can to derail their ministries, and he urged them to persevere against whatever forces of evil they face.
Preaching from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, he explained how Jesus commissioned 70 people, sending them two by two with the admonition, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
“Remember, you are of God, but the whole world lies in the hands of the evil one,” Rankin said.
He cited recent terrorist attacks in such places as Egypt and Pakistan as examples of how Satan tries to scare off Christians seeking to spread the gospel into satanic strongholds. Satan also seeks to use closed borders and cultural barriers to discourage missionaries, he said.
In addition, among missionaries, he sows seeds of doubt, causes conflict in marriages and between peers and brings on illnesses and difficulty for children, Rankin said.
“But also remember, because you go in Jesus’ name and with his power and authority, he goes with you,” Rankin said. “You will find the demons are subject to you, and the gates of hell will not prevail against you.”
“God is sending you to the lost people of the world because it is his plan to bring all the peoples of the world to him. Walk in faithfulness and obedience to your Lord Jesus Christ.”

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  • Louis Moore