TACOMA, Wash. (BP)–The diversity of Southern Baptists was exemplified May 5 when Tacoma First Baptist Church hosted the commissioning service for 46 North American Mission Board missionaries.
The Tacoma church had the honor of being the first ethnic church to host a NAMB commissioning service.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” Robert E. Reccord, NAMB president, said as he dipped his head slightly to the Korean congregation, the pastor and choir. “This is the first time in history a commissioning service has been held in an ethnic congregation.”
Pastor Chang Sun Moon and music director, Heung Yoo, humbly acknowledged the accolades given to them and the congregation, who hosted the special worship and celebration service May 5.
“We were honored to sing for the service,” Yoo said. “Our congregation is a mixture of many people — Koreans, Anglos, Blacks — we are all Americans.”
The American state flags, along with the flags of Canada and U.S. territories, waved as the youth from Puget Sound carried them briskly to the front of the worship center and past the 47 missionaries being commissioned.
Three serving in the Northwest, Buck Webb and Ken and Dondi Harmon, took special pride in the service being held in their convention.
Webb, who considers Springdale, Ark., home, serves as student evangelism strategist for Puget Sound Baptist Association establishing evangelistic clubs on high school and junior high campuses.
“I’ve always had a heart to work outside the Bible Belt,” Webb said. “God opened a lot of doors and led me here. People are real and genuine in the Northwest, and I want to be a part of the work.”
The commissioning service capped a five-day training and orientation session for the missionaries that featured both formal classroom training as well as an opportunity for the missionaries to participate in ministry on the streets of Seattle. The group joined members of The Sanctuary in a regular Friday evening walk along the streets of Seattle’s Capitol Hill area distributing hot soup, sandwiches and blankets to the homeless — many of whom are teens from across the country.
The Sanctuary is an outgrowth of The Fisherman’s Club, which for 15 years has ministered to the young people on the streets of Seattle. The Sanctuary began meeting as a new congregation on Easter Sunday of this year as part of the Embracing Seattle/Strategic Focus Cities church planting and evangelism initiative.
“I helped hand out blankets and talked to a man named John,” said Bill Yates, a church planter from Stockton, Calif. “He wanted to know why I would spend so much time with him. It was awesome.”
Tommy Hinson, associational missionary for the South Central Baptist Association in Winfield, Kan., said he had the opportunity to hear the sobering stories of several marginalized youth — and was able to share with them the hope in Christ.
“I thought it was important to not just hear strategy of ministry and missions, but to be able to touch several people in the name of Christ,” he said. “I am both challenged and blessed by doing a practical outreach ministry in the midst of the orientation process.”
Harmon, a regional collegiate evangelism coordinator in Portland, Ore., said he was impressed with the openness of the homeless youth.
“It’s refreshing to get out and be involved in ministry,” he said.
Reccord, in his message, emphasized that the work in Seattle is an example of the challenge all Christians encounter. He stressed the importance of finding pleasure in whatever mission God calls his servants and the need for boldness.
Dan Moon translated the message into Korean with the same fervor Reccord displayed.
“God wants to bless you and bless you a lot, and as He blesses, you will feel his pleasure,” Reccord said. “Don’t be afraid to speak out. Be active in sharing your faith.”
He relayed a recent event William (Bill) Fay, author of “Share Jesus Without Fear,” experienced on a United Airlines flight on Sept. 10. A flight attendant, preparing to serve beverages in the cabin, was having difficulty breaking up a chunk of ice. Fay hesitated to offer help, being busy and not wanting to intrude, but finally stepped forward.
In amazement, she asked why he would offer assistance when no one had ever helped before. He replied that the answer was in the tract he offered her and asked her to read it. He requested she talk to him later in the flight if she wanted to know more.
“When she returned to his seat later, she told him he was the sixth person that week to give her a Christian tract,” Reccord said. “Before the flight was over she had knelt beside him and prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior.”
The next day, Sept. 11, United Flight 93 slammed into the ground in Pennsylvania killing everyone aboard. Fay wondered if the flight attendant was among the dead. Several days later, the list of deceased was posted. The list included her name.
“What if he’d been too busy?” Reccord said. “He took the time and shared Jesus, so she’s in heaven today. Don’t be afraid to speak.”
The Tacoma First Baptist Church choir sang their confirmation to the message. Their song, “Here Am I, Lord,” represented the commitment made by the missionaries and others.
On response cards submitted during the invitation 74 people committed to pray for missions, 13 requested information on long-term mission service, 28 expressed interest in short-term missions opportunities — and one individual reported having prayed to accept Christ that night.
James Dotson contributed to this report. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SHARING FAITH, RECCORD TRANSLATION, MISSIONARIES SPEAK, S.D. MISSIONARIES and GATHER IN PRAYER.