AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–A sense of urgency about a lost world is what compels the 61 new Southern Baptist missionaries who were appointed Sept. 7 in a service at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.
“This generation could be our last chance to share the Good News with a lost and dying world,” said one new worker. “As the sun sets each day, we have one less day to accomplish our unfinished task.”
Another new missionary testified: “On my knees, looking out the window at the stars and moon, I prayed for all the peoples and countries I had served on missions. When I mentioned an unreached people group from Southeast Asia, it was like my heart broke. I knew that God had poured His love for these people in me.”
A third worker and his wife learned from their missions-minded pastor that more than 1 billion people have no access to the Gospel. “As we considered God’s call to missions,” he said, “the question gradually changed from ‘Should we go?’ to ‘How could we stay?'”
CALLED TO OBEDIENCE
God calls His people to lay aside their jobs and serve overseas, but He doesn’t call them to new job descriptions, IMB President Rankin told the new missionaries.
“Many of you, like Philip, are laymen,” Rankin said. “You came out of a variety of vocations: a salesman, a sports broadcaster, a physical therapist, a computer analyst, teachers, businessmen.
“But God is not calling you exclusively to a place and a location. He is not calling you to fulfill a job description,” Rankin said. “He is calling you to follow in submission to His lordship, wherever He decides you are needed. Don’t get locked into a narrow perception of what His will is.”
Rankin told about a missionary couple, Charles and Jan Collins, who were serving fruitfully in Guatemala when in 1995, for reasons they did not understand, God called them to move across the border into southern Mexico’s Chiapas state.
“Six months later, the Zapatista revolt broke out and literally tens of thousands of Indian refugees swept into the region,” Rankin said. “Not only were they in place to coordinate refugee ministries, but hundreds of churches were started in Indian villages when refugees returned home.
“Always be sensitive to where God is leading,” Rankin counseled. “It doesn’t always make sense.”
One of the reasons Southern Baptists are able to take the Gospel to previously unreached people is that veteran missionaries have been sensitive to God’s call to take their experience to a new frontier, Rankin said.
“God’s plan is that all the nations and peoples would hear and exalt Him,” he said. “It may be that God’s plan is not what you understand it to be right now. Let me encourage you to follow in obedience with a sensitive heart.”
God’s Spirit is moving powerfully among one previously unreached people group because an experienced missionary obeyed God’s call to go to North Africa, said Avery Willis, IMB senior vice president of overseas operations.
Ten years later, local believers are ministering to their communities and sharing the Good News of God’s love through “houses of prayer” in many neighborhoods, Willis said. Just this past summer, 800 people in the region made commitments to Christ in one preaching service and 1,756 in another.
From a meager beginning, there are now 14,000 believers, 69 churches and 81 houses of prayer in place, Willis said. A total of 78 two- or three-member teams go throughout the villages of the region, telling people about salvation in Jesus Christ.
“God is doing a mighty work there,” Willis said. “These believers are the fruit of people who said, ‘No matter what it costs, because Christ has made such a difference in our lives, we’re going to take the Gospel everywhere we can.'”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: INVITATION, BANNERS, TELL THE WORLD, STEP OF FAITH, WHO WILL GO? and PARTNERS IN THE HARVEST.
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