JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–Sixty-eight new missionaries were commissioned before thousands of onlookers at First Baptist Church, Jackson, in what is believed to be the first such North American Mission Board service in Mississippi.
In a Sunday morning worship service May 20 that reverberated with prayer and celebration, the missionaries were challenged to be soul-winners by Frank Pollard, First Baptist’s senior pastor, and NAMB President Robert E. Reccord.
“Never lose heart,” Reccord told the missionaries in his sermon from Hebrews 12. He praised the missionaries for answering God’s call to make a difference in the world.
Illustrating the analogy of running a race as described by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 12, Reccord said the race is “only for those who have come to the point of saying, ‘Jesus I need you. I surrender my life to you.’
“Those are the ones in the race,” he said.
Reccord encouraged the missionaries to look to the great cloud of witnesses described in the first verses of Hebrews 12.
“The writer is talking about those who have already run the race” and are present to cheer on the runners, Reccord said, mentioning such biblical figures as Noah, Moses, Nehemiah and Peter.
“My job as a Christian is not to outrun you; my job is to finish alongside you,” he said.
Reccord also urged the new missionaries to stay the course when the going gets tough.
“Belief in the Word of God, no matter what the circumstances look like — that’s what faith is all about,” he said.
The commissioning service included a number of musical pieces, including an inspirational version of the song, “Carry the Light,” with the combined voices of First Baptist’s sanctuary choir, Promise Choir for young people and children’s ensemble.
Randy Wood, NAMB director of missionary personnel, read Scripture just before Reccord presented each new missionary with their commissioning certificate as they introduced themselves to attendees.
New missionaries Jorge Melendez and Ted and Carolyn Stephens offered their testimonies of how God had led them to become North American missionaries.
A special feature of the service was the presentation by Pollard of a check for $103,000 to Reccord, signifying the church’s record gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. The church has a strong history of setting giving records in support of Southern Baptist missions.
At a luncheon held in honor of the new missionaries, Reccord presented Pollard with a tabletop exhibit of the flags of all the countries and territories for which NAMB has responsibility for reaching people with the gospel.
At the luncheon, Reccord used a more personal tone to exhort the new missionaries not to lose touch with themselves, their spouses and their families when the pressures of ministry surround them.
“Guard your heart. Be careful what goes into your heart through your eyes and mind,” he said. “The adversary is looking for whom he can destroy. Fan the flames of your marriage; when the last spark goes out, it is very hard to start it up again. Do the work of evangelism, and model what you are asking other people to do. Start in your own home.”
Information about NAMB programs and opportunities for service can be obtained by contacting the board at 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30202; phone, (770) 410-6000; website, www.namb.net.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: RECORD OFFERING, CONGRATULATIONS, TESTIMONY GIVEN and SPECIAL PRAYER.