INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Hispanics play an important role in the world missions strategy of Southern Baptists in South America, Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, told more than 100 pastors and leaders at a June 9 luncheon prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis.
“I feel very much at home with people who speak Spanish,” said Rankin, who recently returned from a two-week trip into the Amazon basin of Peru and Ecuador.
Noting his concern about the “remaining lostness of our world and the urgency of reaching [the lost] with the Gospel,” Rankin urged the audience not to shy away from the Great Commission.
“Do not rationalize away our responsibility for that mission task, ethnic churches, by saying that we are the mission field,” Rankin said. “No one is exempt from the Great Commission task.”
Recently informed by an IMB worker that in Central Asia the Gospel had reached 23 people groups who had never heard it, Rankin told those gathered he was happy to receive the news but noted that the man sharing the news was still unhappy.
When Rankin asked why, the worker said it was because “there are 300 other such people groups who still need to hear.”
As a result of that encounter, Rankin said a question is burning in his heart: “By what criteria should any people group be deprived of hearing the Gospel?”
“No one,” he said, “should be deprived of hearing the Gospel.”
Rankin concluded by asking four key questions: “What do you have? What do you see? What do you give? How much do you love?”
Dickie Nelson, the board’s regional leader for 530 missionary personnel in 10 countries of South America, noted there are more than 400 ethnic groups in those countries where only 2 percent of the population or less are evangelical Christians.
“There are 300 million people in these 10 countries, and of those at least 94 per cent will go to hell unsaved,” Nelson said. “They deserve the opportunity to hear the Gospel as well.”
Jason Carlisle, the International Mission Board’s Hispanic mobilization director, in introducing a new group of 20 volunteer mobilizers from various regions throughout the United States, urged the audience to tap their help in order to be “more informed and more involved” in mission work around the world.
David Raul Lema Jr. is director of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Center for the Americas in Miami and a correspondent for Baptist Press.