GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–All God’s people — not just an elite few — are called to missions, and when God calls, the proper response is to obey, International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin told a capacity crowd Aug. 2 at Glorieta.
The appointment of 47 new overseas missionaries capped a week of seminars, Bible studies, missionary testimonies and worship at the Southern Baptist conference center near Santa Fe.
Rankin challenged the crowd to not let Satan deter them from fulfilling God’s call for their lives.
“Some people want to hold on to comforts and security here in America,” Rankin said. “They say, ‘I’ll pray for the missionaries. I’ll give more generously. I’ll go on a short-term mission trip.’ But all the time God has a place to which he is calling them.
“The call to missions is not a mystical call for an elite few. It’s a call for all God’s people. When God touches our lives, he can do with us what he wants. Our responsibility is to obey.”
The new missionaries echoed that theme time and again.
One new missionary, who will minister to an unreached people group in Asia, said God began speaking to her about missions when she was a member of a Girls in Action missions group.
“God first called me as his missionary when I was 10 years old and in GAs,” she said. “Throughout my life, he has proven that he is able to accomplish all that he’s called me to do. I trust him completely. We’ve learned there’s no greater joy and no greater peace than being where he’s called us to be.”
“God called me later in life when we went on a short-term mission trip to Sri Lanka,” her husband added. “I, too, have learned to trust and obey him. We will gladly go wherever he leads us.”
Beverly Vick, a schoolteacher and pastor’s wife from Mesa, Ariz., recounted, “For the past few weeks, I’ve been busy dismantling my happy and stable life, contemplating leaving behind my children, my family, my friends and my dogs. The question kept popping into my mind: Why am I doing this? And the answer is: Because God called me to missions.”
Understanding God’s burden for the world’s lost multitudes will make a person uncomfortable with life-as-usual in the United States, said Sam Taylor, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Va.
“After the fall of the Soviet Union, our church became involved in a number of missions projects in Eastern Europe,” Taylor said. “But the time came when I could no longer be content collecting offerings and participating in occasional short-term missions projects there. God has so burdened my heart for Eastern Europe that I have to serve him there full-time.”
But the lostness of the world and Jesus’ command to go are not the main reasons Southern Baptists send out missionaries, Rankin said.
“We are not sending you out just because of the nations’ lostness and need. It’s not just because our Savior and Lord has commanded us to go,” he said. “It’s because he who alone is worthy of all praise and glory is being deprived of that glory and praise.”
Speaking from 1 Corinthians 16, Rankin promised the new missionaries they would find God creating amazing opportunities, but he also warned them to expect opposition.
“You are going out into a world where God has opened a door of unprecedented opportunity in witness and service,” Rankin said. “But as [the apostle] Paul explained, you are going to encounter many adversaries and opposition.”
In southern Asia, a handful of churches in one people group has grown to more than 900 in just 10 years, Rankin said. A neighboring people group that had no churches six years ago now has 150 Baptist congregations. Another nearby group that had no churches two years ago now has 69 Baptist congregations.
When the gospel begins to make such tremendous progress, it often is met by intense opposition from religious leaders, government officials and others bent on persecuting new believers, he said.
The missionaries’ response must be to be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous and give themselves in love, he said.
“Jesus reminded his disciples to be on guard,” Rankin continued. “He knew they would encounter ceaseless attacks from the evil one, seeking to draw them away from God’s perfect will.
“Stand firm in your faith, believing God, claiming the promises of God, trusting in his sovereignty,” he told the new missionaries. “And remember that only love will enable you to die to self and give your life in a sacrifice for the people to whom God has called you.”
All that keeps multitudes of people from finding salvation in Jesus Christ is that no one has ever told them about God’s love and forgiveness, Rankin said.
“Multiplied millions of people are dying and going to hell, not because they have rejected Christ, but because no one has gone and told them,” he said. “Like David wrote in Psalm 142, they cry out, ‘No one cares for my soul.’
“Do any of us care enough to say, ‘Maybe I could be the one to go. I don’t see how God could use me. I don’t feel qualified. But I care. I’ll be the one to go.'”
The International Mission Board is a Southern Baptist Convention agency supported by the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: WILLING, TESTIMONY, NEW MISSIONARIES, PRAYER OF DEDICATION, COLOR GUARD, A CHARGE TO KEEP, and IT’S OFFICIAL.