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Journeymen conquer fears to join God in every continent


RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Missionary journeymen considered the possibilities of experiencing loneliness in an Asian metropolitan city; dining on monkey brains in India; failing to learn a new language in Europe; remaining forever single in Africa; encountering piranhas in South America; and other fears that might accompany a young adult’s commitment to serve two years in international missions.
But 71 college graduates pushed such fears aside: They committed to take the gospel to a lost world during a commissioning service in late February at Cool Spring Baptist Church, Mechanicsville, Va.
The missionaries comprise the first journeyman group to be sent from the International Mission Board in 1999. A journeyman is a single college graduate who is at least 21 years old, but under 30 prior to journeyman training.
The journeymen, who will work on each continent, will be joining a missionary force already in place: career missionaries, International Service Corps workers, previously commissioned journeymen and others. Some will serve in support roles, teaching missionary kids or nationals; some will serve as coaches, nurses or veterinarians; some will be involved in direct evangelism and church planting; some will go into the Last Frontier, that area of the world with little or no access to the gospel.
“It’s really humbling that God could use us to spread the gospel to a group of people who have never had it presented to them before,” said a journeyman who will be backpacking into unreached areas in East Asia. He and several others cannot be identified because they will serve in countries that are not receptive to Christianity.
Bill Bullington, IMB vice president for overseas services, encouraged the journeymen to embrace Jesus Christ as their model, their master, their message and their might in all things.
“Everything that you want to see happen during your journeyman experience, everything you want to see God do during your journeyman experience, everything that you hope he’ll do in and through you is dependent on the depth and daily freshness of your walk with him,” Bullington said. “And I’m confident that he is going to do wonderful things through you.”
He charged the new missionaries to cling to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
The commissioning service culminated a four-week orientation at the board’s Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Va. There, the journeymen learned how best to adapt to the new culture and language where they are going. They studied about the religious beliefs of people to whom they will go and how best to share the gospel with those people. They honed themselves spiritually with a desire to go deeply committed to God and the task to which he has called them.
“I’m over-awed,” said one journeyman who will be serving in The Last Frontier. “God’s shown me this month how big he is, and it’s so big I can’t imagine. We may only be 71 people, but God’s power in that is amazing.”
Most of the journeymen will be leaving within the next two weeks for their overseas assignments.
“In two years, we trust that they will come again, rejoicing and bearing precious sheaves,” said Robert Shehane, the board’s associate director of missionary orientation. “And they come not only to share that, but to challenge us, other Southern Baptists, to be involved in God’s great missionary plan.”

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  • Julie McGowan