News Articles

Missionary adoption excites Texas church about missions

DIANA, Texas (BP)–Pat Campbell was tired — tired of sitting in her Bible study group and reading missionary names from a list.
She knew there had to be something more First Baptist Church of Diana, Texas, could do for the missionaries. She wanted a way to get to know the missionaries better. She wanted to know more about their families as well as their ministries. But how to do that?
It wasn’t long until the answer came to her in an advertisement for the International Mission Board’s new “Adopt A Missionary” program, another way the agency is encouraging Southern Baptists to be on mission with God through their local churches in missions support and involvement.
The Adopt A Missionary emphasis encourages churches to develop personal relationships with a missionary. Through the partnership, churches know more about what’s going on in different parts of the world. With an adopted missionary, churches have a personalized stake in international missions because there is someone they know and have prayed for by name.
After a call to the IMB, Campbell sat down with the Bible study group to pick a missionary. More than 570 names were on the list — all needing adoption.
“We looked at that list and we couldn’t bear to think there were 579 missionaries from Texas who needed our support,” Campbell said. “So, we decided to adopt them all.”
The ladies vowed to contact all missionaries on their list at least once during the year, primarily through birthday cards. Once a month the ladies gather to sign cards and take a love offering to pay for postage.
The group will choose a few missionary families from the original 579 to be their permanent adopted missionaries later this year, Campbell said.
Other ways churches can be involved include naming a missions group or Sunday school class after the missionary, praying specifically for the missionary or the people group he or she works with, said Bill Morgan, a former missionary to Brazil who directs the program. Some churches help their missionaries distribute newsletters, while others offer housing assistance while missionaries are in the States.
Some adoptions have resulted in churches sending volunteers to help their missionaries with special projects. Sunday school classes also have paid special attention to the missionary kids. Children or youth classes can become pen pals with missionary kids who are the same age.
More than 250 Southern Baptist churches already have adopted 187 missionaries through the new IMB emphasis, Morgan said. Many churches adopt a missionary called from their own congregation, city or even state. Some choose missionaries who work with people groups the church is currently praying for.
This adoptive relationship does not stop once the missionary is home for stateside assignment (formerly called furlough). In fact, the Diana church set a date for one of their adopted missionaries to speak. Their invitation to the missionary resulted in a full-fledged world missions day at the church with two more missionaries coming as well.
“It’s amazing to see the excitement. It’s like Christmas every time we meet to put the cards together and talk about our missionaries,” Campbell said. “Our group, as well as our church, has become so excited about missions — it’s just incredible.”
Campbell attributes this excitement to their personal contact with the missionaries. Many of the missionaries have responded to the Bible study group through e-mails and personal letters. The church even has reserved a spot on the bulletin board for missionary prayer requests.
“These missionaries are no longer just names in a magazine to us,” Campbell said. “They have become our friends. We are a part of their ministry and they are a part of ours.”
To find out how your church can adopt a missionary, or to secure a list of missionaries from your area, contact the IMB’s Creative Access Networks by e-mailing [email protected] or calling toll-free 1-800-362-1322.