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Platt encourages pastors: ‘Engage in SBC ecosystem’

PHOENIX (BP) — The International Mission Board is in a stable financial position, “setting the stage” to send more missionaries to share the Gospel, IMB President David Platt reports to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.

“We take seriously our responsibility and stewardship from the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to our cooperative mission efforts,” Platt assured messengers. “And especially in light of Cooperative Program giving up, I want to thank you and continue to encourage pastors across this room to engage in the entire ecosystem of the Southern Baptist Convention — all of us working together.

“There is no question that the IMB is able to do what it does as a result of every facet of the SBC, from local churches to associations to state conventions, and all the entities we partner with,” he said.

Platt thanked Southern Baptists for increased giving to the Cooperative Program and approximately $153 million given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. He noted the IMB no longer uses property sales for operations and that the mission board’s reserves are funded at appropriate levels.

“In other words, the IMB is healthy financially, and what that means is, the stage is now set for Southern Baptists to stop decreasing and start increasing the number of missionaries we have serving around the world,” Platt reported to applause.

Platt highlighted a redesigned IMB.org online site, created to help churches of every size send more men and women around the world on mission trips and as members of missionary teams.

Hundreds of current missionaries sent Twitter-length reports* to share with messengers how they are seeing God at work around the world, with messengers hearing a number of them:

— In one country, they’re training 25 mixed-background believers as church planters through an underground Bible school in a highly persecuted context.

— Physical access to another country has become more difficult, but they’ve seen more than 250,000 digital Bibles distributed and hundreds of Gospel conversations started inside that country over the last year.

— In Eastern Europe, the Bible has now been translated and printed in the Udmurt language for the first time in history.

— They saw the first church ever started among a Muslim people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

— A woman learned at a Value of Life training in South Asia that abortion is not God’s will. In seeking forgiveness, she found salvation through Christ.

— In Southeast Asia, they’re equipping a national couple who will go for two years this August to reach a diaspora people group of 500,000 migrants.

— In East Asia, they helped a believer plant a church over the last seven months in one of the hardest places in that part of the world. Ten people have now confessed Christ and 12 others have already been baptized.

— In North Africa, they trained up and sent out a small group of Muslim-background believers to a country hundreds of miles away. Those believers have now planted 20 churches with over 220 people baptized.

— In one region known for having one of the highest concentrations of lostness in the world, they’re seeing churches start, grow and multiply.

— One Sub-Saharan African missionary said, “I am seeing lost people come to the Lord every day. Many times I am discipling them from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.”

— Two missionaries hiked over sand dunes to carry the Gospel to remote Muslims. They were arrested. The government warned them not to go back. They kept going back, and now a church has been planted there with 17 baptized believers.

— One missionary shared the Gospel with a man from South Asia. He put his faith in Jesus, was baptized and then led 10 of his friends to Christ and started a discipleship group with them. Five weeks later, he died in a car accident, and now he’s with Jesus while his discipleship group is multiplying.

— One couple with kids said that after two and a half years in North Africa and the Middle East, their family has shared the Gospel with more than 800 people in the people’s heart language, Arabic.

“This is the work of the IMB,” Platt said. “And this is happening every single day…. Disciples are being made, churches are being planted, pastors are being trained and missionaries are being sent from the nations to the nations. And ultimately, God is being glorified among people and entire people groups who until now had never heard the name of Jesus.

“This is the work of the IMB and, Southern Baptists, I want to call us to send limitless more missionaries to do that work all around the world.”

*Specific locations cannot be shared for the security of IMB personnel and national believers.

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  • Julie McGowan