RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Thanksgiving is among the central aims of missions.
That was International Mission Board President David Platt’s assertion in a Nov. 21 Thanksgiving livestream event that included an update on the IMB’s financial status and interviews with personnel serving overseas.
“When we go and proclaim the Gospel and people receive the grace of God … they will give thanks to God for His grace, and He will receive glory through that,” Platt said, basing his comments on 2 Corinthians 4:15, a theme verse for the presentation.
A lack of thanksgiving to God is a major problem among people who have never heard the Gospel, Platt continued, citing Romans 1:21, turning to Psalm 67’s depiction of thankful worship by those who have heard God’s Word and believed as the ultimate end of missions.
Platt called the past 12-18 months a challenging season for the “IMB family,” presumably a reference to the board’s reduction of 1,132 missionaries and stateside staff for financial reasons. Platt added, however, that he is “happy to announce” a balanced budget for 2017 and an anticipated increase in missionaries on the field next year.
Southern Baptists pray, give and go to the nations, Platt said, “so that more and more and more men and women and boys and girls know the resurrected Christ.”
Among the ways God has worked internationally in recent months, Platt said, is by saving a 74-year-old Muslim imam in West Africa through an IMB missionary’s witness and by saving a woman in Southeast Asia who received relief from involuntary thrashing and “frothing at the mouth” following prayer by a local believer.
Live interviews with IMB missionaries yielded additional testimonies of God’s work across the globe. For security reasons, none of the missionaries’ last names was revealed.
Ross, who has served in Eastern Europe for nine years, told of distributing Bibles for the first time among an unreached people group and seeing God provide a pastor for a church plant.
Southern Baptist workers and national partners in Eastern Europe need prayer for boldness, Ross said, because “we’re seeing that just in the last few months, laws changed to make it more difficult to be about evangelism, church planting work [and] discipleship in that part of the world.”
Rose, who has served 20 years in East Asia, told of a missions-sending movement among East Asian believers. She requested prayer “that the flames would continue to be fanned and that more [East Asian missionaries] would be raised up to partner with our believers there to be sent out to impact that vast lostness in East Asia.”
Ben, who has worked with Jewish people for 30 years, said there are more Jewish followers of Jesus in Israel today “than there have been since the first century.” He also told of a graduate-level theology program in which Jewish and Arab Christians are studying God’s Word together and experiencing “real reconciliation.”
Ben asked Southern Baptists to “remind God” in prayer “of the promises He’s made to Israel and the promises He’s made to the Jewish people and the promises He’s made to the nations, that once again His Word would go out and would be effective.”
The livestream event included repeated thanks to Southern Baptists for their giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
A prerecorded video featured insights from retired IMB missionaries who, Platt said, “have faithfully served for years” and “have over the last year made transitions to serving in different ways.”
The livestream event is archived at https://livestream.com/accounts/1793571/Thanksgiving/videos/142447199.