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It’s time to ‘va e conte!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions, Nov. 30-Dec. 7, centers on the theme of “GO TELL the story of Jesus.” The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, with a goal of $170 million, will support the ministry of more than 5,300 missionaries worldwide appointed by the International Mission Board.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)—”Vá e conte!” This simple Portuguese phrase has taken me to places in the world I would never have dreamed possible. It means “go tell.”

I first learned Portuguese many years ago as an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Brazil. Now, as president of our North American Mission Board (NAMB), I may have fewer opportunities to speak Portuguese, but that one phrase, “vá e conte,” still carries me to places in my walk with Christ that I would not have dreamed possible, even though I now live out that command to “go tell” in English.

Having obeyed that command in an international setting, and now doing the same here in North America, the Lord has given me a unique perspective on how the two phrases are related. Yes, we serve the same Lord. Yes, we obey the same Great Commission. But there is more to it than that, and I believe the story of Justin Garrett* is a perfect example.

Justin was an agnostic student at a major university in the Northeast. Four years ago, he met one of our North American missionaries as he was walking to class and the missionary led him to Christ. As time went by, Justin grew in his faith and became an important part of that missionary’s campus ministry. Justin led many of his family members and friends to Christ. He later went to a nearby college campus and planted a church. And now, as you read this, Justin is preparing to go overseas with the IMB to share Christ as part of their Journeyman program.

You prayed for and gave to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Through your support, God placed a North American missionary on that college campus in the Northeast. That missionary led Justin to the Lord and helped him grow in his faith. Justin led countless others to Christ here in North America. God is now blessing your initial investment in North American missions by sending Justin to help reach the world.

I cannot think of any better example of how NAMB and the IMB help Southern Baptists partner together to reach the world for Christ.

Our task is huge, and some might say it is overwhelming. There are billions of people in our world today who are lost and dying without the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. But for a God who is raising up people like Justin, surely nothing can be too hard. I urge you to pray for and give to the cause of Christ as never before. As we do, I am confident that God will raise up more and more people like Justin to “go tell.”
*Name changed. Geoffrey Hammond is president of the North American Mission Board. Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to support Southern Baptists’ global outreach can be made at www.imb.org/offering.

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  • Geoffrey Hammond