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Missions ‘invasion’ penetrates Southern Seminary community


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–WARNING: It’s dangerous to your comfortable, status-quo church involvement to go on a volunteer mission trip overseas, to minister to international students in this country, to join an “Experiencing God” group or to pray for one of the thousands of unreached people groups.
Doing such things could do much, much more than dramatically alter your church attendance, financial contributions and prayer life.
Any of those things, in fact, could lead you to invest your whole life overseas as an international missionary in places where the gospel has never been preached before.
And it can be as equally dangerous to hear from others responding to the call to carry the gospel overseas, as students, faculty and leaders at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary learned this week during an international missions “invasion.”
Most of Southern Baptists’ 67 newest missionaries — appointed Sept. 15 by the International Mission Board in services at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — never dreamed they would be heading off for a lifetime on the mission field. Then a life-transforming experience changed everything.
“For three years, I have been a houseparent at a Christian school in South Carolina,” said a missionary headed to a restricted country in southeast Asia. “Most of the boys were Asian, and God gave me many opportunities to share his love with them. Our boys were the privileged few. I realized most Asians will never have a chance to travel to America or live with a Christian family. Therefore, God has called me to ‘go’ to southeast Asia.”
“In a church in Mexico, I viewed a statue of a bleeding, dead Jesus encased in glass,” said Carroll Golden of LaFollette, Tenn. “I thought, ‘My Jesus is alive,’ and with that God has taken my casual interest in missions and brought me to the point of opening my heart to answer the call of ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ with ‘Here I am, send me.'”
“While taking ‘Experiencing God,’ I sensed God’s call to a deeper love for all people,” said Gina Huff from Tulsa, Okla.
“At Ridgecrest I met Tom Smith, a missionary to the Susu people group,” said Dorothy Beddingfield of Hendersonville, N.C. “Through God’s grace, he’s leading me to this same people group that I have been praying for.”
It was one of the largest appointment services for new missionaries in recent years.
Business owners, school teachers, pastors, church staff members, seminary staff, an Air Force pilot, a county health inspector, a computer instructor, a registered nurse, and Southern Baptists engaged in other vocations all testified to the same sense of calling after being exposed to the spiritual needs spanning the globe.
And based on the testimonies the 67 offered Sept. 15 in the seminary’s chapel, the more than 1,600 people in the audience faced a similar warning. A sizable percentage of the new missionaries testified that just attending an appointment service or other global missions event — even years ago — and hearing missionary testimonies set off the dynamics in their lives that eventually led them to say, “Here am I, Lord. Send me, too.”
“As an MK (missionary kid) in the Philippines, I received a call when I heard Dr. Baker James Cauthen speak,” said Steve Anderson of Florence, Ala. (Cauthen was president of the board from 1953 to 1979.)
“In 1996 at the Southern Baptist Convention, the theme for the Foreign Mission report was ‘Carry the Light’,” said a missionary headed to central Asia. “During that service my heart broke as I considered the people around the world not hearing the gospel. We agreed that God was opening the door, and that we would go through it.”
International missions literally penetrated every aspect of Southern Seminary’s life. IMB personnel swarmed the seminary campus, reminding everyone they encountered that God is opening doors and doing miraculous things to redeem a world filled with teeming billions in need of the gospel. Missionaries spoke in classes, mission executives and trustees preached at chapel services and mission displays lined hallways in the student center.
The joyous celebration even spilled over into the Louisville community when a local cable channel carried the appointment service live. In addition, board officials met with local pastors, state convention leaders and others to share the international missions message.
Also, four employees of LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tenn., and their spouses were commissioned for International Mission Corps service that will last two or more years. In that new church development program, LifeWay provides personnel and financial support and the IMB guides and provides the ministry opportunities.
The Louisville event, called a “Global Missions Week,” included an International Mission Board trustee meeting, which itself helped to rivet the seminary’s attentions overseas.
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. called the event “an invasion” that harkened back to the seminary’s Great Commission roots. He called it a “high and holy privilege” to have IMB trustees, staff, missionaries and new appointees on campus much of the week.
In his charge to the new missionaries, IMB President Jerry Rankin said the board does everything it knows to prepare missionaries for service. But one of the things it can’t do, he said, is prepare new missionaries for the smells they will encounter.
The 67 new missionaries and the eight new ISC workers, like the board’s 4,424 other missionaries, are “to be the fragrance of Jesus Christ” in a world filled with the stench of a sick and dying world, he said.
In addition to routine business matters such as property and personnel transfers, trustees also adopted a strongly worded resolution urging the SBC Executive Committee “to fulfill the original intent of the ‘Covenant for a New Century’ and include the IMB among those SBC entities which will share in an increased percentage allocation of Cooperative Program funds which have been made available through greater efficiencies in the work of the convention.”
Though the resolution itself drew no discussion or debate, at a previous board meeting trustees criticized the Executive Committee for failing to increase the percentage of funds allocated to the IMB after cutting overhead costs by restructuring the convention.
Trustees also:
— appropriated $1.5 million from operating reserves for capital expenditures to improve computer technologies;
— appropriated $1.7 million from operating reserves for additional renovations and improvements to the board’s building in Richmond, Va

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  • Louis Moore