ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Jonathan Derbyshire grew up as a missionary kid in Thailand. But he never thought the missionary life was for him.
His parents have been missionaries for three decades, and they’re still on the field. Even though he saw their calling modeled well, he had other plans for his life.
While studying the film industry in college, he heard a sermon from Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Akin said, “Don’t ask, ‘God should I go?’ but instead ask, ‘Why should I stay?’”
After serving overseas with the International Mission Board’s Hands On student program, Jonathan was convinced reaching the nations was his calling.
Jonathan and his wife, Bethany, were two of 52 IMB missionaries participating in the Sending Celebration June 14 in conjunction with the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. IMB’s board of trustees approved the appointment of the new fully funded missionaries in their May 18-19 meeting in Orlando.
Bethany became a believer in middle school. Soon after, “the Lord began breaking my heart for the nations,” she said. In high school, she met missionaries to Papua New Guinea, and the encounter ignited a broken heart for the unreached. Her college years served as a “spiritual greenhouse” for this passion.
The couple met at Southeastern Seminary, and now, they’re channeling the passion for the nations that developed while they were students into equipping and discipling students in Thailand. They will be mobilizing national students to take the gospel to other parts of Asia.
The Derbyshires with their infant daughter, Micah, were sent out by Pillar Church in Washington, D.C.
Patient prayer of wife answered
Lindsey Ward knew God was calling her to be a missionary since she was in middle school. When she and Ben began dating, she told him that if God called them as a couple, she needed him to be open to that calling. He was, but as their marriage began, God had not yet called them overseas. Still, Lindsey kept praying.
Ben served on staff at Highview Baptist Church and at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. One day, “things just kind of changed.” Ben felt a conviction that they were “doing the right thing in the wrong place.”
Ben sat at a table with Lindsey and asked, “Lindsey, what do you think about starting an application with the IMB?”
She replied, humor apparent in her voice, “I’ve been praying about it for about 12 years, but I think we could give it a try.”
The Wards are following God’s call to bring the Gospel to the nations. Along with their three children, Judah, Ava and Cora, they are headed to Santiago, Chile, to serve in theological education and church planting.
Mission trip proves transformational
It has taken Bobby and Brittany Spinks years to get to the field, though they have felt God calling them for quite some time. Brittany felt the call for years. Bobby “wanted to do his own thing,” he said. But a pastor of their church invited them on a mission trip to Nicaragua.
“I went to Nicaragua to get God off my back,” Bobby said. “We landed in Nicaragua, and I realized I had been telling God ‘no’ to something that I didn’t understand. He knew a whole lot more than we did.”
Because their pastor provided this opportunity to experience missions firsthand, the calling to the nations was ignited.
After they surrendered as a couple, challenging life circumstances got in the way. Life-threatening health issues abounded. Family tragedies were prevalent. Bobby had a thriving career in a state police crime lab.
“In every obstacle, God just brought us through it,” Bobby shared. Eventually, the Spinks family arrived in Hungary in 2019 – just in time to begin to acclimate to Hungarian culture before COVID-19 forever changed the world. They, along with their daughter, Samara, were serving through International Service Corps. Missionaries serving through ISC join IMB church-planting teams for two- to three-year terms.
Even though the Spinkses’ ministry had to pivot, they fell in love with the people of Hungary.
Now they’re returning as career missionaries to serve among the European people they’ve grown to love. Both Bobby and Brittany are excited about the prospect of working with a Hungarian believer, learning the language and culture from him, plugging into student ministry at the local university and learning more about how Hungarians share the Gospel with each other.
Missionary presence among the nations – ‘Why we must stay together’
“Today, we get the honor and privilege of sending IMB missionaries to be present among the nations to share the Gospel with peoples and places where Jesus is not known or named,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said in introducing the missionaries at the Sending Celebration.
Chitwood continued, “Today, amid sin and darkness, devastation and pain, many are focused on the worst of our convention, we get to be reminded of why we, as believers … as Southern Baptists, exist.”
Chitwood shared that over the IMB’s 177-year history, Southern Baptists have sent, through the IMB, 25,000 missionaries to the nations. Those missionaries have had an “impact that will only be measured by eternity.”
“They need us, Southern Baptists. They need you,” Chitwood said, as those in attendance stood and applauded. “This is why we came together, and this is why we must stay together.”
He continued, “Every day, 157,690 people will die apart from Christ and spend eternity in hell. It’s daunting – maybe even entirely overwhelming to absorb the reality of lostness. The reality of that number is heartbreaking and almost paralyzing.”
“Thankfully we do not shoulder that number by ourselves,” Chitwood added. “What we do, we do together, or we do not do it at all.”
“With God, all things are possible, including the fulfillment of the Great Commission,” Chitwood said, reminding the audience of the IMB’s Revelation 7:9 vision.
Chitwood asked former IMB missionaries to stand as the messengers recognized their service. To those God is calling to the nations now, “I implore you, go,” Chitwood added.
The Sending Celebration concluded with a time of prayer and corporately singing a prayer of blessing over the new missionaries.