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IMB trustee to follow missions call to Guatemala

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BP)–For Laurelle Stoudenmire, there is no question that an International Mission Board appointment service is meaningful.

“It was at my first board meeting in Glorieta, N.M., that Allen and I went forward at the invitation time and said, ‘Yes, Lord, we will go wherever, whenever and whatever,’” Stoudenmire told her fellow IMB trustees in their meeting prior to the missionary appointment service Nov. 15 in Huntsville, Ala. “It’s taken about six years for Him to get us there. But we are thankful, and we’re grateful that there’s a program that would allow us to go. We are just thankful that we don’t have to be on the shelf after 50, or after 60 years of age.”

It was at last November’s appointment service in Oklahoma City that she and her husband, Allen, realized it was time to put feet to the calling to overseas missions that they had both felt for some time.

“We had never pursued it, but it had always been in our hearts,” said Stoudenmire, who has served as an IMB trustee since 1999. “At the appointment service, we decided to go ahead and pursue it, and we began the application process.”

As an IMB trustee, part of Stoudenmire’s role has been to help make decisions concerning Southern Baptists’ 5,000-plus overseas missionaries, as well as interview those who apply to join their ranks.

She had played a part in sending those who were appointed at the Oklahoma City service as well as serving on the committee that approved 89 more for appointment at the service conducted in Huntsville in conjunction with the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

Attending the Huntsville service and its related meetings was one of Stoudenmire’s last acts as a trustee, in stepping down from that role a little more than a year before her term was to expire in order to go to the mission field.

Though they weren’t being appointed as career missionaries at the Huntsville service, Laurelle and Allen Stoudenmire – 65 and 67, respectively -– have been accepted in the IMB’s Masters Program, a short-term service assignment for those age 50 and above who want to serve on the international missions field.

The Masters Program -– introduced during Stoudenmire’s first year as trustee with the IMB -– offers two- or three-year terms. The Stoudenmires’ assignment in Guatemala City will be three years. There they will strategize how to reach some of the least-evangelized villages and share the Gospel door to door.

“We did not realize that Alabama was partnering with Guatemala until after we were matched with the job request there,” Stoudenmire said, referring to the partnership the state convention will be kicking off with Baptists of that nation in 2006. “One of my responsibilities on the field will be coordinating missions trips coming from the States to Guatemala.”

Serving in this type of consultant role is nothing new for Allen Stoudenmire, a retired insurance agent who has served alongside his wife as a North American Mission Board consultant to churches in Alabama’s Clarke and Choctaw counties.

“I always thought missionaries were either preachers or were in the medical field, and those were not my calling,” he said. “Only later in life did I realize that God calls people from all walks of life –- and all ages.”

As they prepare for their own assignment –- which they will leave for next March 16 –- they observed as others were appointed at the Huntsville service to join the ranks of IMB career missionaries.

“There are six appointment services each year, and each one that I have attended is so heart-touching,” Laurelle Stoudenmire said. “Dr. Jerry Rankin [IMB president] always gives an inspiring message to those being appointed as well as to the audience. Each one challenges believers to be involved in missions.”