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Mexican Baptists mobilize for international missions


MEXICO CITY (BP)–Mexican Baptists embraced their responsibility to take the gospel to the ends of the earth during a historic international missions congress in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
A total of 44 Mexican Baptists — almost a fourth of the participants — publicly committed to international missions service during the February congress, the first nationwide global missions conference sponsored by the World Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention of Mexico.
The three-day conference marked “the first time that a full-blown, multifaceted presentation has ever been made to Mexican Baptists on God’s missionary heart and the fact that the Great Commission was given to Mexican Christians, not just to North American and European Christians,” said missionary Lloyd Mann. Assigned to Mexico by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, Mann is strategy coordinator for Mexican Baptists’ four-year-old World Mission Board.
Keynote speaker Edison Queiroz, a Brazilian Baptist global missions leader, challenged the 200-plus participants — including 43 pastors — to broaden their missions vision to encompass the entire globe, not just Mexico.
“The conference was just the beginning of something God’s doing here in Mexico. It opened Mexican Baptists’ eyes to a new vision about God’s mission for the world,” said Mexican Baptist missions educator Gloria Bustamante, one of the conference speakers. “But the vision is just a first step; we need to keep on feeding that vision.”
“Many (participants) were visibly moved by the enormity of the ’10/40 Window’ statistics,” added Mann, referring to an unevangelized part of the world sweeping from North Africa through the Middle East and most of Asia.
Several Mexican Baptist missionary candidates are preparing for service in the 10/40 Window. They will join Mexican Baptists’ career missionary force of three: one couple who serve in Honduras among a people group with mixed African and indigenous origins and a single female physician who works in a Muslim country.
In addition, since 1980 about 250 student summer missionaries have served overseas and in Mexico through the convention. Since 1991 Mexican Baptists’ National Youth Organization has sponsored about 400 short-term missions volunteers, mostly to work in Cuba. Convention seminaries also offer summer missions programs in Mexico and Honduras. Within Mexico, Mexican Baptists work among 18 of the country’s 56 indigenous people groups.
But Baptist missions leaders in Mexico believe these efforts don’t come close to the capability of Mexican Baptists — with nearly 83,000 members and 1,200-plus churches. “Mexican Baptists are just beginning to wake up to their worldwide missions responsibility,” Mann observed.
During the recent conference, Queiroz made that point by comparing the missions history of Baptists in his native Brazil to that of Mexican Baptists.
When the Brazilian Baptist Convention was established in 1907, its home and international mission boards were formed at the same time, Queiroz noted. Today the Brazilian Baptist World Mission Board supports 158 Brazilian missionaries and 311 other Baptist workers in 44 countries.
The National Baptist Convention of Mexico, on the other hand, was begun in 1903 but didn’t organize mission boards until 1994.
Missionaries in Mexico “are just now beginning to realize that we haven’t really discipled the (Mexican) people we work with until we’ve instilled in them the same missionary vision for the world that brought us to this country,” said Mann, who lives in Mexico City.
“Pray that Mexican Baptists will truly grasp the vision of Christ’s Great Commission — because in the past the vision in Mexico has been something like, ‘OK, we’ve received the gospel now, and that’s it,'” added Bustamante, director of a training facility for evangelical missionaries in Mexico.
“Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict pastors to share the vision with their churches and then get the churches involved in the whole process — because it’s from the local churches that God is going to raise up Mexican Baptists to send all over the world.”

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  • Mary E. Speidel