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Mohler cited for missions vision; pastor notes ‘tragic’ global

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Like so many professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Thom Rainer has a prolific pen. And at the outset of a March 18 chapel service, Rainer dedicated his 11th book, titled “High Expectations: The Remarkable Secret to Keeping People in Your Church,” to seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. in honor of his commitment to training workers for evangelism and church growth.
“As the Billy Graham School approaches the conclusion of its fifth year of ministry, it is fitting that the one with the vision for missions and evangelism in theological education should be recognized and honored,” said Rainer, dean of the Billy Graham School for Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at the Louisville, Ky., seminary.
“You recognized that a theological seminary must first have as its foundation a belief, a conviction and a commitment to the inerrant Word of God.”
Rainer recalled Billy Graham’s description of Mohler on the eve of his inauguration as president. “Recognizing the significance of your vision for a school that would bear his name, Billy Graham spoke of you as a man ‘with tremendous vision, not only for the future of this theological seminary but for the future of evangelism and missions in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the world,’” said Rainer, who then presented Mohler with a framed copy of the book’s cover.
After applause subsided, a surprised Mohler responded, “If ever there was a title that reflects the spirit and substance of what the Lord has done through the Billy Graham School, it is ‘High Expectations.’ To God’s glory, the book is well-named.”
Al Jackson, the morning’s chapel speaker, continued the missions theme by posing a question: “How can a man serve as pastor of a church and have no one come forth and say, ‘God has called me to the nations?’
“If there were no one from my church on the mission field, I don’t believe I could rest at night until God raised up at least one.”
Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church, Auburn, Ala., challenged the seminary audience not to be satisfied with the current number of missionaries: “How can we be content when there are only 4,500 International Mission Board missionaries while there are 40,000 Southern Baptist churches?”
Some pastors do not pray for missionaries to be sent forth from their churches because they cannot pray with integrity, he contended. “They themselves are unwilling to go,” Jackson said.
Jesus commanded Christians to petition the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the harvest field. “Why do we have so few missionaries today? You have not because you ask not,” said Jackson, whose church has 44 missionaries on the field already and has set a goal of 200.
Preaching from Matthew 9:35-38, Jackson identified three reasons to pray for a mission harvest: because of the suffering of humanity, because of the potential for a plentiful harvest and because of the lack of missionaries.
That many in the world suffer spiritually and physically like sheep without a shepherd should send Christians to their knees, Jackson said.
Each day, 34,000 people will die of hunger or hunger-related illnesses Jackson said. Yet, despite the reality of famine, homelessness and poverty, a more pressing need exists for much of the world: “People live without the knowledge of God’s saving grace, and they’re lost. Unless someone tells them of the Savior, they will slip into eternity without Christ.”
Because of these needs, Jackson said Christians live in a day of unprecedented opportunity: “The Spirit of God is at work in the world, turning the hearts of men and women to see their need of God. But we do not know how long these doors will be open to us.”
Yet even in the midst of ripe harvest, Jackson said the number of missionaries remains relatively low.
He mourned as “tragic” the statistic that 95 percent of vocational Christian workers minister in a part of the world where 5 percent of the people live.
After asking the audience to sing a verse of the hymn, “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go,” Jackson challenged seminarians to not only pray, but also become harvest workers. “I have said, ‘Lord I’ll follow you wherever you go. I’ll put no geographical limitations on my service for you.’”

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  • Bryan Cribb