ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Calling the United States the fourth most “unchurched” nation in the world, Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, spoke March 5 during a commissioning service for 143 new missionaries and chaplains at First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C.
The missionaries and chaplains will serve in 31 different states, in four Canadian cities -– Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Okotoks — and in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Addressing a packed sanctuary of some 1,800 in First Baptist’s third worship service of the morning, Reccord said the United States is no longer a Christian nation.
“The United States has gone from being a Christian nation to a mission field,” he said. “The U.S. is now the 13th largest country receiving missionaries from other countries. Some 224 million people in North America claim no relationship to Jesus Christ.”
Reccord also said that the world “is coming to our doorstep.”
“On average, our Anglo churches are not growing, but Asian and Hispanic churches in the U.S. are growing by double digits,” he said.
“One out of 10 in the United States today is foreign-born. One out of five kids has a parent who is foreign-born. America is becoming more diverse all the time.”
Two of the missionaries — Luc Aube and Karina America — addressed the congregation, while all were introduced following a processional featuring the flags of the U.S., the 50 states, Canada and the Canadian provinces.
Aube, a US/C2 missionary in downtown Montreal who serves as pastor of a bilingual university church plant in partnership with the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists, described how challenging Canada is as a mission field.
“Less than one percent of the population of Quebec claims to be evangelical Christians,” said Aube, who was called as a missionary at age 17. “It’s a four million person mission field.”
Spartanburg native Karina America, another newly commissioned missionary who serves as assistant director of the Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, told of the challenges of working as a missionary since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area last August.
“Please pray for those in New Orleans who lost everything and are trying to rebuild their lives,” America said.
Challenging the Spartanburg congregation, Reccord told members that just like the missionaries and chaplains commissioned, “each of you is a missionary right here in Spartanburg, right in your own cul de sac. Either you’re a missionary or a mission field. You are one or the other. Which is it for you? You can’t love Jesus Christ and be a secret agent Christian.”