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Missions unfaithfulness thwarts U.S. churches, strategist says

KANSAS CITY, MO. (BP)–In an emotional address to future Southern Baptist workers, International Mission Board strategy associate Rodney Hammer pleaded for them to heed the call to missions.
“The Great Commission wasn’t given to the International Mission Board,” Hammer declared Nov. 25 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The Great Commission was given to the body of Christ. There are no surrogates in the body of Christ. It’s given to all of us.
“So the Lord asks us, ‘Will you take part?’ God is raising up incredible mission forces from around the world, and he wants to still use Southern Baptists. The question is, are we going to get to be a part or not? He will simply move on if we don’t.”
Hammer is one of two strategy associates on a regional leadership team overseeing Southern Baptist work in Southeast Asia, including the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Speaking at Midwestern’s Kansas City, Mo., campus, Hammer described how God is working in these countries to fulfill his promise in Mark 13:10 — that the gospel will be preached to all nations before the end times.
As an example, Hammer told how in Cambodia he met a spiritist who came to Christ through the witness of a Southern Baptist-trained national and now pastors a church of 50. Elsewhere in the country, Hammer said, a retired missions couple has returned to teach English and, in the process, have led a Buddhist monk to Christ. In Indonesia, Hammer said, there is currently a spontaneous movement of Muslims to Christ, and messianic fellowships have formed.
In Cambodia this past summer, Hammer said, political unrest forced Southern Baptist representatives to evacuate for a time. These workers heard that some of the most intense fighting was in the northwest, so when they returned to the country, they asked believers from the region about their plight. The Cambodian believers then explained they had gone to a new region and planted 10 new churches during the summer. When questioned if there had been fighting in this new area, the Cambodians responded, “Oh, yeah. It was really ripe soil for the gospel.”
“I have got to tell you, God is at work in Southeast Asia, and he’d love for you to join him there,” Hammer told the chapel audience. An M.Div. and D.Min. graduate of Midwestern, Hammer went on to link fulfillment of the seminary’s vision for prairie fire for the U.S. Midwest/Great Plains with obedience to the Great Commission.
“I believe in prairie fire,” Hammer said. “May God bring fire upon the prairies of the United States. And I believe that God wants to break out in revival among his people, but I’ve got to tell you this: There’s got to be a reason why half of our churches are plateaued and declining. There’s got to be a reason why 25, 30, 40 percent of our churches aren’t baptizing anybody in a year. There’s got to be a reason for that.
“I think one of the reasons is because we have been unfaithful to the Great Commission,” Hammer said. “Why in the world would God want to pour out the fires of revival on a people that cannot simply obey that which they have been told all their lives?
“There won’t be prairie fire revival in Missouri and Montana and Indiana and throughout the Great Plains until we become an obedient people. Our obedience is what God asks. He says, ‘I don’t want your sacrifices, I don’t want all your meetings, I want your obedience.’ We’ve not been obedient, and so therefore we lack fire.”
Hammer urged Southern Baptists everywhere to heed the call to missions.
“We have 15 million Southern Baptists. We have 4,000-plus on the field. I was not a math major, but that is a lousy percentage,” Hammer said. “I can’t believe, that when there are these equal components in Acts 1:8 for us to be witnesses around the world, that God would only have those few to go.
“God is using others who are being obedient, and he is using a remnant of Southern Baptists, but he wants to use all of us,” Hammer said. “Wouldn’t that be exciting, if God were able to use all 15 million Southern Baptists? Now, that would be something I would like to see. That would be an exciting thing to be a part of.”
Weakness and inadequacy doesn’t excuse any Christian from missions service, Hammer reminded.
“You know the great thing? It is not contingent upon us,” he said of the Great Commission. “I am weak and pathetic, but God can use me in my weakness when I’m obedient.
“Sometimes people will say, ‘I can’t do what you’re doing,’ and I say, ‘Why not?’ And they’ll come up with a laundry list of things.
“And I say, ‘Man, I am just like you. I am just like you! Because it does not have anything to do with me. Those 4,200 on the foreign field are just like you. They simply lay their lives before the Lord and say, I want to be obedient. Please use me.'”
To those who do not go abroad, Hammer challenged them to give increasingly to world missions causes.
“We can pray, we can give and we can go,” Hammer said. “About 3 percent of all the moneys we give as Southern Baptists ever make it to the International Mission Board. We have a couple of billion dollars coming into our churches each year. Three percent of it makes it to the mission field.”
Hammer gave a personal challenge to students serving in local churches while at seminary.
“I know the heartbeat of this seminary is to see revival sweep across this nation,” Hammer said. “And guys, I’ve got to tell you, if God is calling you to plant a church in Montana, you’d better do it. But if you don’t put a burn and a fire and a passion across your people that burns for the lost, you’ll have no fire. If you’re not burning for the lost in Montana and the lost in Cambodia, then there won’t be any fire and any passion and any prairie fire revival in the Midwest. It won’t happen. He wants our obedience.”
Growth in the local church, Hammer said, is linked to obedience in missions.
“Guys, when you go out there, and ladies and women, when you’re out there, if there’s not this obedience to the Great Commission, there’s not going to be any fire among our churches. We’re going to continue to have plateaued and social clubs and dying churches that aren’t baptizing people.”
Hammer concluded with an impassioned prayer for the seminary.
“God, I pray for fire to fall upon this school, and to fall upon all of us, your fire that would cleanse us and make us usable in your hands,” Hammer prayed. “God, don’t quit on us yet. Have mercy on us. We are a stiff-necked and disobedient people.”

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  • Clinton Wolf