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Interest in global missions high despite Sept. attacks

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon haven’t frightened Southern Baptists away from career missions. If anything, missions candidates have a greater sense of urgency than ever.

The International Mission Board consultants who work with people considering career missions report that interest in international missions is as high as it was before the attacks.

Almost a year after the attacks, missions interest remains strong, said Kenn Shirley, who works with prospective missionaries in Alabama, Florida and Puerto Rico. “What I have heard is an increased level of being serious about this calling to missions, perhaps even a bit somber,” he said.

“We have even had some who have said, ‘These events have helped me decide I want my life to count,'” added Jim Riddell, leader of the board’s personnel consulting team.

Despite the apprehension many Americans feel about Muslim countries, candidates do not seem to be avoiding any particular people groups. Since Sept. 11, missions candidates have reserved 29 positions for service among Muslim people groups in South Asia, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

“We continue to appoint people to areas dominated by Islam,” Riddell said. “We have a number of people who were serving as two-year personnel and were relocated [last fall] who now have been appointed to return to their regions.”

Although some people fear that Americans living abroad might face increased danger, prospective missionaries seem undaunted.

“Everyone I have worked with has stated that they trust God with their lives,” Sutton said. “If he calls them to serve overseas, [they believe] he will either protect them or use perilous situations for his glory.”

“Rarely do folks express fears concerning being attacked or hurt. There might be some concern over safety of children, but it is not an overriding concern,” Shirley said. “The concerns we hear are much more in line with what most North Americans have: schooling for their children, friends for their children, aging parents and things of this nature.”

Family members of prospective missionaries, however, do seem more concerned about safety issues than they were before the attacks, he noted.

“Since Sept. 11, I just remind people that we are called to be obedient, not to be safe,” Shirley said. “I said that before the attacks, but perhaps people are more ready to listen now.

“The realization seems to be that this is a much more serious task and it has to be done now,” he said. “There is certainly an increased sensitivity to the shortness of time and that nothing in our lives or ministry is promised to us.”
Is God calling you to overseas service? http://going.imb.org.

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  • Tiffany Monhollon