JACKSON, Miss. (BP) – Residents of the welfare state of Denmark are apt to tell international missionaries Casey and Scott Tuminello that there’s no need for Christ.
“We’ll get in a conversation with them about just the spiritual need for the Lord in our life and they say, ‘No, I don’t need anything. My life is set. I’m good,’” Casey Tuminello said. “Ministry is difficult in that sense.”
The Tuminellos were among 20 international missionaries who participated in the Lottie Moon World Missions Weekend Dec. 3-5 at First Baptist Church of Jackson. Sponsored by the church’s Woman’s Missionary Union, the fundraising, educational and motivational event engaged 20 international missionaries and hundreds of Jackson residents and guests, Jackson First Baptist women’s minister and WMU leader Cindy Townsend said.
“This church for decades has celebrated the Lottie Moon World Missions Weekend extraordinaire,” Townsend said. “Some years it has been a full week, and it involves 3- to 103-year-olds in our church,” including Royal Ambassadors, Girls in Action, Acteens, and 15 Women on Mission Groups spanning single adults, young married women and older adults. The event launched the church’s Lottie Moon giving season with a goal of $600,000, about the amount of past goals Townsend said the church has surpassed.
The Tuminellos are able to spread the Gospel in Copenhagen, Denmark, without government persecution, but the Gospel message is not easily received in the nation Tuminello describes as post-Christian and unreached.
“The government meets all the needs of the people there. Their jobs are provided, everyone has a home, they’re not hungry and so there are not physical needs we can meet,” Tuminello said, a drastic change from their previous ministry in a nation where humanitarian aid could drive evangelism. “And that makes it difficult to help people understand that they have a spiritual need when there are no physical needs.”
About 75 percent of Danes are officially evangelical Lutheran, with less than 1 percent of residents identifying as Baptist, according to the CIA 2021 World Factbook, but Tuminello said the majority of residents are not practicing Christians. She and her husband build relationships to gain opportunities to share the Gospel.
“If you listen well enough, they start to reveal different struggles that they’re having in their lives,” she said. “And at that point, we’ve just found that we can speak into how we deal with those struggles and how we lean on the Lord during those hard times … when something is going on that is beyond what the government can take care of.”
The LMCO is critical to the couple’s ministry success.
“The giving to Lottie Moon is just so instrumental in everything we do overseas working with the IMB,” Tuminello said, including reaching college students, working in the local church and caring for their own family. “We couldn’t do any of that without the way Southern Baptists give to Lottie Moon.”
First Baptist Jackson senior pastor Chip Stevens appreciates the Tuminellos and the more than 3,500 International Mission Board personnel spreading the Gospel globally.
“Lottie Moon World Missions Weekend is important to First Baptist Jackson because it reminds us to think of God’s global mission,” Stevens said. “It also allows us to get to know some of God’s choice servants. This allows us not only to hear how God is at work around the world, but helps us to know how to best pray.”
Townsend describes the excitement of the weekend. While the Tuminellos are stateside until the spring, other missionaries flew into Jackson Dec. 3 to participate in the event that included missions gatherings in neighborhoods around Jackson and was preceded by Royal Ambassador and Girls in Action fundraising events. Five missionary couples who participated serve in high security countries.
“Tonight, on every side of our city we’ll be celebrating God’s compassionate heart for the world, through the missionaries,” Townsend said Dec. 3. The event drew guests from other states, including five women from the Hmong people group living in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The weekend included personal counseling from missionaries for those sensing a call to international missions, sermons, fellowship and times of targeted prayer. A “Passport to the World” event on the closing night allowed individuals to hear from missionaries who showcased the cultures of countries where they serve.
“Many of our single adults, I could see this being a changepoint in their lives as they began to pursue God’s call on their lives for missions,” Townsend said in advance of the event. “These missionaries that are coming are going to be spending personal time with those in our church who are feeling God’s call.”
First Baptist Jackson honored Tuminello for her work in international missions with a $2,000 special love offering, highlighting the annual Little Feet consignment sale she founded a decade ago that has raised nearly $1 million for missions.
Townsend appreciates the work the church can achieve cooperatively as a member of the Southern Baptist family of about 50,000 congregations.
“We feel like as a downtown church, located across the street from the Capitol… (First Baptist Jackson) has been strategically placed here to give out as much of God’s light to as many people as possible in our state, in every direction, because we’re a regional church,” Townsend said. “Our church realized a long time ago that in order to be that light, we’ve got to be focused beyond ourselves. Missions is the avenue for that.”