SNELLVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Kenny Grant was a new U.S. Marine Corps recruit about 22 years ago when he learned his young girlfriend was facing an unplanned pregnancy. But God used those circumstances and the witness of a fellow soldier to lead him to faith in Christ.
He called his mother first and told her the news, then his girlfriend. “I said, ‘I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I know our life is going to be different,'” he recalled “‘We’re going to raise our baby. We’re going to get married.'”
Grant and his wife, Shirley, gave evidence of that difference on Feb. 7. They were among 77 missionaries of the North American Mission Board commissioned during a service of worship and celebration at First Baptist Church of Snellville. Grant now serves as the pastor/director of the Savannah Baptist Center, an inner-city ministry reaching multihousing communities in downtown Savannah.
Their testimony was among the highlights of a service that also included videotaped descriptions of the work of all of the missionaries; words of challenge from NAMB President Robert E. Reccord; and even a visit from respected missionary advocate Annie Armstrong, portrayed by South Carolina actress Freddie Neel.
Another testimony of God’s transforming power came from Amy Mitchell, a US/C-2 missionary serving two years with Baptist Collegiate Ministries in Dayton, Ohio.
Nine years ago, Mitchell said, she was a bitter young teenager with a background of physical abuse who had never known genuine love. But then a friend invited her to church, where she heard a sermon about the love of God.
“I told my friend … ‘I want to know about this God,'” Mitchell said. “‘I want to know about this love. And I want to know about somebody who would love me for who I am without me having to change for them.’
“She said, ‘I can tell you about him,’ and she led me in a prayer,” Mitchell continued. “Ever since then my life has been so full of blessings. I can walk around with a smile on my face, because I know there’s a heavenly Father that is wrapping his arms around me every day of my life.”
Reccord challenged the congregation — both missionaries and laypeople — to consider their commitment to God’s calling in their own lives. He told of one instance in his own life when simple obedience was used by God to make an impact that is only just beginning.
Reccord said he and his wife, Cheryl, started a neighborhood Bible study in their home after they moved to the Atlanta area. The night they were supposed to begin, he was tired after a stressful day and briefly considered calling off the first night’s study. But the doorbell rang early, and a woman at the door said she had seen a flyer advertising the Bible study and had been waiting outside for an hour and a half.
“I need God,” she said. “I’ve been to 13 churches and no one can tell me where to find God. … Can you please tell me how to find God?”
Within the next 24 hours, Reccord said, the woman accepted Christ. And over the next year, after being discipled by Cheryl, she led six family members to Christ. Her mother-in-law and father-in-law, both Jewish, are now in Bible studies.
“She called us a month ago and told us, ‘I just wanted to call and say thanks. The first thing I did here is open a Bible study in my home,'” Reccord said, “‘And I’ve got 20 mothers praying every morning for our kids in my living room.'”
Freddie Neel, speaking as Annie Armstrong based on her writings, issued her own advice to the congregation on how to ensure the Holy Spirit will continue to work through their lives.
“If we want the Spirit, the fire of God falling on this place, we must have a sacrifice on the altar,” she said. “That sacrifice? Repentant hearts. No repentance, no sacrifice, no fire. Oh God, may you light the fire here tonight.”
(BP) photos to be posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: COMMISSIONED IN PRAYER, PRAYING AT THE OUTSET, JOINING IN PRAYER and ACTING AS ANNIE.