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Page predicts ‘bright future’ for IMB, voices challenges

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptist workers in southern Asia are so committed to spreading the Gospel that “they’d charge hell with a water pistol and not think twice,” SBC President Frank Page said at the International Mission Board’s home office in Richmond, Va.

Speaking to missionaries, staff and trustees during a mid-July chapel service, Page told about a visit with Southern Baptist workers in southern Asia earlier in the month. Describing the lostness there as “overwhelming,” he said he was encouraged by the fact the region has one of the IMB’s lowest missionary attrition rates.

“It was a very emotional trip because you’ve got these extremes of deep, deep sadness at the lostness and yet extreme elation at the commitment of the mission personnel,” Page recounted. “[It is] one of the hardest places in the world to live -– one of the most dangerous places in the world to live. But you’ve got people who say, ‘We will not give up. We will persevere.’”

Page’s message focused on the theme, “Lord, send your reviving Spirit,” reflecting his intention to lead the SBC toward church transformation, energized evangelism and greater cooperative mission endeavors.

“It’s good to hear that we need to win the lost and that we need to be on mission, but we need the Holy Spirit to show us how and to give us the power to do it,” Page emphasized.

He also urged IMB missionaries and staff to keep their focus fixed on Jesus Christ.

“I believe in a prophetically predicted, virgin-born, pure living, vicarious-dying, bodily resurrected, gloriously ascended, presently interceding, soon-to-return Jesus,” Page said. “He is our goal, He is the reason we are here.

“We’re going to lift high the name of Jesus among every race, every people group and know that He is the one that will bring us together.”

Reminding the IMB audience they are not alone in the task, he asked them to “look back” in times of difficulty.

“Others have walked the road before you and they were faithful to the task -– they did not fall, they did not fail, they stood true,” Page said. “They loved Jesus and were not ashamed of it anywhere, anytime, anyhow, and they made a mark for Him. We need to look back and see that great cloud of witnesses that’s walked before us and also recognize there are believers across this world that are walking with us now.”

Asked about challenges facing the IMB, Page pointed to the need to transcend cultural differences.

“To present a life-transforming message of Christ without it being seen as an American Gospel, that to me is the biggest challenge that we face in IMB work,” he said.

Page said personalization of missions is another important challenge, especially for baby boomers and younger generations.

“We’re not like the older generation who will give because it’s right,” Page said. “We’re a little more self-centered; we have to be shown the value. And so I’m saying to entities such as the IMB: show the value, connect with people and put a face on missions.”

Page added words of praise to the IMB for its innovative work in planting churches and winning souls and said he’s looking forward to the future.

“The carrying out of the Great Commission connects with peoples’ hearts more powerfully than any other call from the Lord, and because of that I think the IMB’s future is extremely bright,” the SBC president said.

“If Southern Baptists want to be one with the Lord, they’ve got to be one with missions.”

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  • Don Graham