PORTLAND, Ore. (BP)–Just being around international missionaries can be vocationally contagious.
Take, for instance, the case of one International Mission Board trustee from a pioneer state. For the past three years, this trustee has helped write policy and voted on budgets and other matters for SBC missionaries serving overseas.
But after attending 20 missionary appointment services in which she voted to send hundreds of others overseas, the trustee and her husband were appointed Nov. 7 in Portland, Ore., to serve among a people group with little or no access to the good news of salvation in Christ.
Or take the case of Julie Bannert from Texas. She grew up in a pastor’s home in which visiting missionaries often stayed.
“God put a love for missions in my heart through their stories and testimonies,” she says.
Bannert, too, was appointed Nov. 7, in Portland. She and her husband, Karl, will serve in Bosnia.
Such exposure to missionaries is one of the numerous reasons why the International Mission Board holds appointment services for new missionaries in various parts of the United States every two months or so. By rotating coast to coast, north to south and different areas in between, the board provides Southern Baptists an opportunity to “reach out and touch” its missionaries.
On the night of the nation’s Nov. 7 elections, the IMB appointed 33 new missionaries in the opening service for the Northwest Baptist Convention in Portland, Ore. An additional seven missionary apprentices also participated in the service. (Apprentices lack the experience required for career missionary appointment and are sent overseas for three years to gain on-the-job training.)
While Americans nationwide stayed glued to their television sets for the cliffhanger presidential election, Northwest Baptists turned out in record numbers to witness the appointment service, which included yet another of their own for missionary service overseas.
In the service, audience members watched as one of their own became the 151st person sent overseas from the Northwest Baptist Convention, often thought of as a pioneer region outside more traditional Southern Baptist locales. The new missionary will serve in an area where traditional missionaries are not welcome.
Audience members beamed with joy at sending yet another of their number overseas. To find a facility large enough to hold the crowd, estimated at 1,900, a large nondenominational church in the area was rented for the services.
Another new missionary, Diane Marsh, linked serving in a pioneer area in the United States with serving overseas.
“Twenty years ago I served as a summer missionary to the Northwest Baptist Convention,” she told the audience. “During that summer, God made clear to me that I was to teach.
“Content in this career, just 16 months ago I had no idea what the Lord had in store. Then one day in the middle of a crowd of thousands, God spoke quietly to my heart and called me to full-time service in missions.
“Knowing that I had no choice but to follow his lead wholeheartedly, I did wonder how he would use me overseas. He responded that he would use me overseas in the same way he uses me here.”
Marsh was appointed to serve in education in Central and Eastern Europe.
In his message to the new missionaries, IMB President Jerry Rankin reminded the appointees, “Your task is to proclaim the gospel in life and witness.
“Let them see in you a living Savior. Proclaim a God who loves and redeems by grace. Lift up Jesus who died for them, and believe that through the truth and power of the gospel God’s Spirit will open those blinded eyes to the truth.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: WILLING TO FOLLOW, SENT OUT, LIFTING THEM UP and TESTIFY. See related photos at