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Rankin cites opportunities for world evangelization

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–Despite unprecedented missions advance, Southern Baptists have yet to see a fraction of what God could do through them, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting were told June 10 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
“As we stand only 570 days before the year 2000, we are seeing the greatest opportunity for global evangelization since the first century,” Jerry Rankin, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, said during the agency’s report Wednesday night.
A record 628 new missionaries were appointed in 1997 and the appointment of 38 more later in the evening brought the worldwide total of active missionaries to 4,447. Also, Rankin noted that Southern Baptists gave a record $100 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions in 1997. And evangelistic harvest has expanded from traditional fields like Brazil and Nigeria into countries like Albania, Ethiopia and Mozambique, where missionary activities once were restricted or prohibited.
The good news of God’s love even is making its way into parts of the world where the Christian message has never been preached, Rankin said.
“God’s purpose of exalting the unchanging Christ among the nations is being realized as more than 3,300 previously unreached people groups are being impacted with the gospel,” he said. “This ‘Last Frontier’ of the Great Commission is systematically being penetrated.
“We anticipate that by the end of 1998 the International Mission Board strategies will have in place personnel for every major people group with a population of 1 million or more throughout the world.”
Yet Southern Baptists could accomplish much more, Rankin declared.
“What would happen if exalting the unchanging Christ among the nations became the priority for Southern Baptists that it represents in the heart of God?” he asked. “Would it be unreasonable to anticipate that one out of every 1,000 church members would respond to God’s call – which would mean not 5,000 but 16,000 missionaries?”
Rankin said Southern Baptist churches are needed to become Global Priority Churches, committing to global evangelization and joining an IMB missions network to gain resources for mobilizing their members for world missions.
“If every church became a Global Priority Church, committed to praying for the nations in darkness, one day soon, as we enter a new millennium, all the ends of the earth would turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations would worship him, for the kingdom is the Lord’s and he rules over the nations.,” Rankin said.

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  • Mark Kelly