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IMB missionaries to integrate Crusade grads into strategy

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ and the Southern Baptist International Mission Board have penned an agreement to combine the enthusiasm of one of the world’s largest Christian student movements with the church- planting expertise of Southern Baptist missionaries.
They say the new level of cooperation will result in an era of tremendous growth in unreached areas.
“We’re entering a new era (in Christian missions), where we are coming to realize that there is so much left to do and that no one organization can hope to accomplish it all,” said Bailey Marks Sr., vice president for Campus Crusade for Christ. “It is a necessity for us to find partners.”
Marks led a team of Campus Crusade leadership to Richmond, Va., Nov. 5 for a daylong meeting with International Mission Board leaders. As a result, IMB missionaries will integrate into their local church-starting efforts college graduates in overseas countries who had been involved with Campus Crusade during their schooling.
IMB President Jerry Rankin called the agreement “one of the most significant evangelistic developments in recent years.”
International Mission Board representatives already cooperate with Campus Crusade to produce and use the evangelistic film, “Jesus,” estimated to have been viewed by more than 1 billion people and to have helped lead 57 million to follow Jesus. The film has been translated into 420 languages, with plans for more as funds become available. The two organizations agreed earlier this year to cooperate in production and distribution of new versions of the film.
The new agreement, however, goes well beyond that. Through a new level of cooperation, the two agencies will combine their energies to foster Baptist church movements in cities overseas where Campus Crusade already has a college campus presence. They also agreed to cooperate in creating mechanisms to take the gospel into hard-to-reach areas. An attempt to expand usage of the “Jesus” film also was discussed.
There have been few ways college graduates who had participated in Campus Crusade programs overseas could find a place of Christian service in their homelands. “By working with International Mission Board missionaries, we can take the … 99 percent who never assume roles of leadership with Campus Crusade for Christ and integrate them into the local church community,” said Marks.
“People in the pews have been asking, ‘When are you folks going to start working together?'” said Jerry Sharpless, Campus Crusade director of international missions. “When they hear news of this agreement, they will applaud and be more involved than ever in missions. I strongly believe that the spirit we witnessed in that meeting will accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission one-hundred-fold.”
Those who implement the new strategies will benefit immediately, Rankin said. “We have had a wonderful partnership and times of dialogue at an organizational level, but this will push the cooperation to a practical field level,” he stressed. “Our respective field personnel are already working together in many places. This agreement will strengthen and expand those relationships.”
Campus Crusade’s eight-member team also met with the 14 regional leaders in the IMB’s newly reconfigured overseas sector. The leaders were in Richmond to discuss how missionaries and strategy coordinators from their regions might more effectively plan to match Baptist resources with God’s plan for the nations.
“Just sitting and hearing from the new regional leaders and their strategies for reaching the unreached was a high point,” Marks observed. “All of our hearts beat in the same way … to spread the gospel and to plant churches. Southern Baptists are very good at doing both.”

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