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NAMB commissions 108 for service

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Declaring “you have been sent by the Father,” North American Mission Board President Geoff Hammond and other NAMB leaders commissioned 108 missionaries and chaplains to the North American mission field during a celebration service at First Baptist Church in New Orleans.

In 1845, Southern Baptists created the Domestic Mission Board in large part to reach and minister to people in the city of New Orleans — at the time, the largest city in the South. “We were the city singled out in 1845 because we were so special,” said David Crosby, senior pastor of FBC New Orleans.

In this city where 2005’s Hurricane Katrina still hovers as a prominent backdrop to so many things, Crosby thanked NAMB and Southern Baptists for the many ministry efforts that have focused on the city in the last three years.

“New Orleans is still a mission field,” he said during the Oct. 6 service.

David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, echoed Crosby’s remarks. “There is no better example of partnership than the efforts we have seen here in Louisiana since Katrina,” he said. “We are grateful that you came to our rescue. We are seeing thousands come to Christ who otherwise might not have, had it not been for this crisis.”

Some of those commissioned, like Shani Holland, Julia Parker, Stacy Rains and Debbie and Phil Smith, serve on the mission field in New Orleans or elsewhere in Louisiana. Others are serving as far away as Nome, Alaska, and Alberta and Newfoundland, Canada. Several commissioned are serving in and around NAMB’s current Strategic Focus Cities — Baltimore and San Diego.

Jeff Christopherson, a national missionary for urban church planting in the greater Toronto area, said 10 million people reside in the region. “We have a goal of starting 250 churches by 2020,” he told those in the congregation, asking for their prayers.

Church planter Matt Smith of La Jolla, Calif., told of his efforts to share Christ among the intellectual elite. “We are boldly challenging the false faith of an unbelieving world,” Smith said. He shared the story of the son of a prominent leader of a Middle East terrorist organization who has recently joined the church and is boldly speaking out against Islam. Smith asked for prayers as pressure and persecution from radical adherents to Islam are sure to come in the days ahead.

The ministries of the missionaries commissioned were as diverse and widespread as their ethnicity and geographic location. Lois Sylvia points women to Christ at a crisis pregnancy center in Merced, Calif.; Hannah Schofield resources Hispanic pastors in Raleigh, N.C., helping them more effectively reach the community for Christ; Perry Robinson serves as a chaplain with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction in Little Rock; Stacy Rains leads children and teen Bible programs at the Rachel Sims Baptist Mission in New Orleans, the oldest Baptist mission in North America; Erica Mickels shares Christ through life coaching in Philadelphia; and Christopher Ortiz is reaching the urban area in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Danny Ray, a hospice chaplain in Tifton, Ga., told the service, “I don’t teach people how to die. I teach people how to live.”

Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director Wanda Lee led the congregation in prayer for the missionaries.

In his commissioning message, Hammond told the missionaries, “We are celebrating your calling tonight, but we also want to confirm that you have been sent by the Father.”

Jesus’ ministry on earth was to “do the work of the Father,” Hammond said in speaking from John 4.

“Our prayer is that His plans become your plans and His work becomes your work,” Hammond said. “It is an act of obedience,” he noted. “You are not just called, you are sent. Your greatest challenge will be to do the will of Him who sent you. Not just what you want to do.”

Hammond reminded the missionaries “we cannot reap without sowing,” challenging them to keep sowing the Gospel even when they don’t see a harvest. “If we sow in tears, we will reap with joy,” he said.
Mike Ebert is publications and media relations coordinator for the North American Mission Board. Visit www.namb.net for a complete photo gallery of the New Orleans missionary commissioning service.

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  • Mike Ebert