ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (BP)–Ninety-five Southern Baptists were appointed as International Mission Board missionaries during a May 23 service at Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, N.M. The service was part of an IMB trustee meeting also held in Albuquerque, May 22-24.
“Your (missionary task) is to bear witness to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and proclaim the Gospel,” IMB President Jerry Rankin told the appointees during the service. “But your mission is much more than just sharing the Gospel. It’s to open the eyes of peoples who are blind to the truth of God’s love and salvation. It’s to turn them from darkness to the light of the Savior –- from those who are in bondage to the power of Satan, to release them to the power of God. That’s what it means to do missions.”
Rankin warned Southern Baptists not to be blind to God’s truth: blind to the world as God sees it, blind to the work of God and blind to the will of God. The new appointees, he noted, have opened their hearts to follow God’s will.
“You are here tonight because God has opened your eyes to a world as God sees it -– a world that is lost in sin,” Rankin told the appointees. “But many have never seen the world as God sees it. Many Christians are still blind to a lost world.
“Your eyes have been opened to a world that needs Jesus, and (you) have said, ‘I am willing to go.’”
ACROSS MANY BORDERS
Rankin said the new group of international missions personnel proves God’s will exceeds man’s boundaries: Several of the new missionaries were born in other countries or received their call to share the Gospel in one place while serving in another.
The first international mission field for Clovis and Monie Pause was in Tennessee, where they planted the First Hispanic Baptist Church in McMinnville. The Pauses were born and raised in Brazil and moved to Tennessee to help evangelize Hispanic immigrants there. Now, God has called them to share the Gospel in Western Europe.
“Eight years ago we left Brazil –- our Jerusalem –- and came to plant churches in Tennessee – our Samaria,” Clovis Pause said.
Monie Pause added, “Now the Lord is calling us to go, along with our two children, Lisa and Otto, to Western Europe -– the ends of the earth –- to live and work evangelizing the lost and planting churches there.”
Mikko Sivonen was born in Finland but traveled to California on a volleyball scholarship for college. There he met his future wife, Heidi, at an athlete prayer meeting. She ran track. Now, God is taking them from Sun City, Calif., back to Western Europe.
“I always wanted to do international business,” Sivonen said. “After God saved my life eight years ago, an overwhelming conviction grew in my heart about God’s international business -– namely, to share the resurrection of Jesus among all unreached people groups.”
Juanita Brawley’s family migrated to America from Mexico when she was still a child. In Texas, she learned about Jesus from a home missionary. During a trip to Mexico with Juanita’s family, her husband, Jon, saw people being led astray by cults. The couple served as church planters in Africa for two years, but now say God has called them back to the Middle America and Caribbean region.
SHORT TRIPS, LONG RESULTS
Several of the new missionaries said they felt God calling them to long-term international missions service while participating in volunteer trips or short-term missions assignments. Others said they were called out of local church ministries.
Keith Bartley of Kingsport, Tenn., was eligible to retire from a chemical company after working there 33 years. He participated in volunteer trips to Honduras and East Asia, and his wife, Glenna, joined him on trips to Russia and the Pacific Rim region.
“On my way to work with tsunami victims, God clearly called me to the mission field,” Bartley said.
Glenna Bartley said she also felt God’s call during a missions trip in the Pacific Rim region. Sixteen months later, in good health and with their two sons grown, the Bartleys prepare to serve God in Central America.
For Adam Hammond of Wake Forest, N.C., God’s call became clear during a volunteer missions effort into Central Asia. Playing Frisbee with gypsy kids, Adam said he felt God say, “How will they ever know my Son?”
After months of prayer, Hammond’s wife, Jennifer, also felt called to missions. They served a two-year International Service Corps term in the Dominican Republic, and now are returning to that Caribbean country as career missionaries.
Blake Kimbrough said God called him to international missions while serving as a pastor in Texas. He began praying God would call his wife, Dawnya, too.
“Two years passed before I finally went forward and said to Blake: ‘Pastor, I’m surrendering to missions, and I don’t know how my husband will take it,’” Dawnya Kimbrough told the appointment service participants.
The couple now prays God will stir the hearts of the Nyika people in Zambia -– where they will serve –- to the truth of Jesus Christ.
GOD AT WORK
With the addition of these 95 new appointees, a total of 5,075 IMB missionaries now serve worldwide to join God where He is at work to bring lost souls to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Sixty-two of the new appointees cannot be named for security reasons. They are taking God’s love to areas closed or hostile to a Gospel witness.
“For the last several years -– every year, each year –- there have been at least 100 new people groups in which the Gospel has been introduced by your IMB missionaries,” reported Clyde Meador, the IMB’s executive vice president.
“Every year, we’re seeing somewhere in the neighborhood of a half million people come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and be baptized in His name after being led to the Lord by our missionaries, and our partners and especially the local believers in the places where we’re working.
“Last year, we saw about 20,000 new churches started all over the world. (In) one place we’re aware of a movement where churches were starting churches, that were starting churches, that were starting churches -– to the 17th generation –- and that’s in a three- or four-year period. Just imagine (the numbers of new churches started) as the Gospel spreads around the world.”
Meador emphasized that the work of the 5,000-plus missionaries is possible because Southern Baptists faithfully support them through prayer, through offerings and through volunteer mission trips.
“My Lord called me to the ministry at the height of my secular career, just like He called Peter on his best day fishing,” testified one new missionary who can’t be identified for security reasons. “Now my Lord has called me to be a fisher of souls in North Africa. Thank you for your prayers.”
To learn more about opportunities to serve in international missions, visit going.imb.org. To find out how your gifts support missionaries, go to imb.org/giving. To find up-to-date prayer requests about missions worldwide, visit imb.org/compassionnet.