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Nigerian is first missionary recipient of African Americans’ missions award

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–For the first time, a career missionary was named recipient of the award given annually by the African American church relations component of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

The 2000 Simmons Award was given to Isaac Durosinjesu Ayanrinola for his mission work and his contributions in raising missions awareness among Africans and African Americans.

The award is named in honor of Willie Simmons, the first African American employed by the Foreign Mission Board (now IMB) to promote missions awareness and involvement among black Southern Baptist churches.

Ayanrinola received the award at the annual luncheon of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention June 12 at the Omni Rosen Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

Born and raised in western Nigeria, Ayanrinola attended Baptist schools in the region and eventually accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Sensing a call to full-time Christian ministry, Ayanrinola enrolled in a Baptist seminary and later became a pastor in Lagos, Nigeria. After a time in pastoral ministry, he accepted a call to the mission field and served as an appointed missionary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention for eight years in the West African country of Sierra Leone.

A resident of the United States for the past eight years, Ayanrinola recently earned a doctor of missiology degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

In presenting the award, David Cornelius of the IMB lauded Ayanrinola for his “invaluable” assistance in missions involvement among African Americans. Cornelius, a former career missionary, now serves as IMB director of African American church relations.

In accepting the award, Ayanrinola lamented the fact that out of the 150 years that Southern Baptist missionaries have been appointed to Nigeria there have only been three African Americans — Sue Thompson, Cornelius and his wife, Elwanda.

“What are you waiting for?” Ayanrinola challenged luncheon attendees concerning missions involvement and service.

“Can’t you see the ripe harvest in Nigeria? In Sierra Leone? In Ghana?” and other African nations.

Ayanrinola and his wife, Comfort, will return to Nigeria with their children in August when he will assume a position in the Nigerian Baptist Convention’s missions department.

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  • Olivia M. Cloud