News Articles

IMB’s emerging missions force reflected in background of appointees

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Fueled by the vision that someday people from every tribe, nation and tongue on the face of the earth will sing praises to God in heaven, Southern Baptists’ 69 newest missionaries were challenged to overlook the hardships that lie ahead and instead concentrate on the goal.
“You are going to encounter a world of suffering, of poverty, of overwhelming need,” International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin told the missionaries, appointed July 29 at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center.
“Like the disciples, you also will encounter hostile religious traditions,” he said. “You will be subjected to threats and restrictive government policies.”
Yet, despite those obstacles, Rankin said the IMB is sending them forth with the prayer and hope that “you will be so filled with the love of God and his passion for all the peoples of the world to know him and worship him that, like the disciples, you cannot help but speak the things which you have seen and heard and know of Jesus” (Acts 4:20).
The appointment of the 56 career and associate missionaries and 13 apprentice missionaries was the crowning moment for the first-ever International Missions Week at the Glorieta, N.M., conference center, which drew 1,815 people registrants, including the largest-ever assembly of missionaries in one place — 222 missionaries on stateside assignment (formerly known as furlough), plus the 69 appointees.
It also was the largest appointment of apprentice missionaries — a new category established two years ago for people who meet all the criteria for career missionary appointment except sufficient ministry experience. Apprentices gain their work experience overseas, and four years later are appointed as career missionaries. Thirteen apprentices were appointed.
As the new missionaries each shared his or her testimony, they collectively painted a picture of the IMB’s missionary force today: multiethnic, multigenerational, multi-talented.
One is 60. Others barely reached the age of 24, when appointment as a career missionary is first possible. One is a former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. One flew a helicopter in Operation Desert Storm. Another once owned a pizza restaurant. Others included a doctor, pastors, homemakers, a veterinarian, ski enthusiasts, videographers and teachers.
They all credited God as the source of their calls to serve overseas, but actually meeting and interacting with international missionaries on stateside assignment stood out as each shared his or her testimony in the service.
“In 1978, I was discussing with my great-great-uncle, Bailis Orrick, his call to missions,” said Larry Singletary. “Knowing that I couldn’t be happy unless I was in God’s will, he discreetly slipped me a piece of paper, which said, ‘Seek God, not happiness.’ Today, I am very happy to be a part of the Karamojong team in Uganda, still seeking God.”
For Bob and Rhonda Besco, returning to Glorieta for the appointment service carried special meaning. In 1996, they made a public commitment to overseas missions service at Glorieta during a Jericho missions conference.
Each new appointee shared a passion exemplified by a comment made by one couple: “We are called to do whatever it takes to reach a people group in Central and Southern Asia.”
The appointment service began with a stirring video presentation of “They Sing Glory,” performed by the Stone Brothers at the recent Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta. Interspersed in the video were photos from dozens of people groups throughout the world.
The video impressed upon the audience of more than 2,000 the fact that someday people from every nation, tribe and people group on the face of the earth will sing eternal praises to God in heaven.
“That’s why God has called you to the ends of the earth,” Rankin said at the conclusion of the video. “That’s why you are being sent to the nations: So that the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 22:27) will be fulfilled: ‘All the ends of the earth shall turn to the Lord, and all the families of nations shall worship Him, for the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations.'”
Joined by the audience, the 69 appointees shouted, “Amen.”

    About the Author

  • Louis Moore