RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–The earth teems with people who are hopelessly lost without Christ, and Christians must obey God’s call to missions now because time is running short, several new missionaries told an audience attending a Feb. 3 appointment service at Bethany Place Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.
The new workers were among 57 new International Mission Board missionaries who shared how God called them to overseas service.
“My first volunteer mission trip was to a small community in Mexico,” said one new worker who will be serving with her family in East Asia. “On a crowded, dusty and dirty street, God revealed to me the hopelessness of those without Christ. I knew then God was calling me to share His hope with the lost.”
Her husband said he was influenced by a conference where a speaker spoke of the necessity of missions.
“The final speaker spoke of the nations, and the Spirit grabbed my heart,” he said. “My life changed in an instant as I realized my time on earth was short, and the lost were dying every day.”
Another couple said their life plans were changed by the 9/11 terror attacks.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, I was in a board meeting in downtown Manhattan when the world was changed forever, and so were our lives and plans,” the husband said.
His wife added: “From the affluence of the Pacific Northwest to the poverty of unreached Asia, God has taken us from defiance to compliance, through reliance on Him.”
GOD’S HEART FOR THE LOST
Obeying God’s call isn’t always easy, but understanding how His heart breaks for the lost makes it easier, other new missionaries said.
“When I accepted Christ, I told God I would do anything except preach or be a missionary,” said Chris Hortin of McLeansboro, Ill., who will serve with his family among Romanian people in Eastern Europe. “I said, ‘I won’t.’ I said, ‘I can’t.’ I said, ‘I’ll try.’ I said, ‘I will.’ He must increase, I must decrease.”
“As a missionary kid in the Philippines, I dreamed about being a missionary when I grew up,” said Hortin’s wife, Sue. Then as a young adult, I pursued my own goals and dreams — until one night on a busy L.A. freeway. God reminded me what He wanted for my life. I realized I was wasting time. It’s time to go!”
“As a 5-year-old, I stuffed care bags my family took to a migrant camp,” said another young woman who will serve with her husband and four children in Southeast Asia. “As a GA memorizing Scripture, I learned more about missions. In a Philippine refugee camp, curious children watched as I taught English class. Now as a wife and mother, every sermon, lesson and song speaks to me to obey God’s call.”
“Growing up, I was blessed to have parents committed to missions and a church involved in sending out people to share the Good News all over the world,” said another new worker, who will serve with her husband in Central Asia. “Having people around me who understood God’s passion for the world made it easy to submit to God’s call.”
YOUR LIFE IS YOUR MESSAGE
Speaking to the last group of missionaries appointed before his retirement, IMB Senior Vice President Avery Willis urged the new missionaries to remember that the way they live out the Gospel is what people will remember, not the words they speak or even specific deeds they perform.
“When I first began pastoring, I figured out pretty quickly that people don’t remember your sermons very long,” said Willis. “In fact, when they talked about the preceding pastors, they never mentioned their sermons. Mainly they mentioned a life message. What was left was not words or even specific deeds but a life message.
“The apostle Paul went into Asia with this deep burden and love for the people, and there’s nothing that will replace that. People will hear that message when you can’t even speak their language. They can see and feel and sense your love.”
The missionary’s ministry is not his own life but multiplying Christ’s life into the hearts of others, Willis added.
“In Acts 20, Paul said he didn’t consider his own life as worth anything except to proclaim the Gospel of God’s grace,” Willis said. “You will do many other good things, but the ministry you go to do is to tell people that repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ is the way to get into heaven.
“You go not knowing what will happen there. We never know what’s going to happen to us, but if we know who we’re following, we know He is going to lead us and help us.
“The legacy you leave will not just be the individuals you touch, it will be the ones they touch, and the ones they touch, and the ones they touch — all the way out, long beyond your life.”
“What your life message is going to be is what you can implant and give away to the people you go to serve.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: APPOINTED TO SERVE, PAUSING TO PRAY, PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE and GOING FORTH.