PLANO, Texas (BP)–God’s heart breaks for multitudes all over the world who are dying without ever hearing about abundant, eternal life in Christ, International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin told 95 new Southern Baptist missionaries during a Nov. 3 appointment service at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.
And the only response a child of God can make is total abandonment — a “whatever it takes” commitment to take the gospel to all the nations, he said.
“How is it that you are willing to give your life in a time of economic uncertainty, global tensions, rampant ethnic warfare and unprecedented suffering?” Rankin asked the new missionaries. “It’s because you realize that Jesus is the answer, and that if the peoples of the world are ever going to know of God’s love and his redemptive grace that can give them hope in the midst of darkness and despair, someone must go and tell.”
Like the apostle Paul, who said, “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19), Christians are compelled by the need of a lost world to go wherever God calls, Rankin said.
The new missionaries — the second-largest group in the board’s 157-year history — were appointed before a crowd of more than 4,000. Prestonwood’s worship team, choir and orchestra set the tone for the evening with a multimedia performance titled “All the Nations.”
Pastor Jack Graham told the crowd, “We are here to do exactly what the Psalmist said in Psalm 2:8: ‘Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance.’ We are praying tonight that God will give us the nations.”
The desperation of people living in spiritual darkness compels God’s children to obey his call to missions, several of the new missionaries said.
“As I watched a woman crawl on her bleeding knees to bow before an idol, I committed my life to bringing Christ’s good news to the 24 million people of Mexico City,” said Greta Nelson of DeWitt, Va.
Another new worker, whose identity cannot be revealed because of security concerns, said he surrendered to God’s call when a child with muscular dystrophy crawled half a mile across rocky ground to ask him for help.
“We are confronted by the challenge of sharing the gospel with people who are demon-possessed. They worship evil spirits, suffer from evil curses and are in spiritual bondage,” said Seng Herr of Kansas City, Kan., who will serve with his wife, Chua, among the Hmong, an animistic people group in Southeast Asia. “We will bring them into the Kingdom of God.”
“I didn’t deserve a Christian home, a loving family, a chance to know the Savior,” said another missionary going to a people group that has yet to hear about God’s love. “They don’t deserve a life of fear, living in darkness, a hopeless future. We’ve been blessed with so much. What can we give? It’s our turn to give our lives away.”
The greatest barrier keeping the gospel from all peoples is not false religion or oppressive government, Rankin said. The greatest hindrance to the gospel is the unwillingness of Christians to make a “whatever it takes” commitment to the one who commanded them to make disciples of all the nations.
Many people “have subconsciously drawn a bottom line beyond which they are unwilling to go,” Rankin said. “That will hinder getting the gospel to all people. You can hinder the gospel by succumbing to fear or limiting how far you are willing to go in a sacrificial lifestyle.
“But the consecration that influences others to the gospel is one that is willing to endure all things.
“Go with a servant heart,” Rankin told the new missionaries. “Love the people and give yourself to them no matter what the cost.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PURPOSE IN LIFE, WHATEVER IT TAKES, OUR TURN and HOLDING THE ROPES. The next IMB missionary appointment service will be Jan. 24 at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix.
— Exploring God’s call to overseas missions? going.imb.org/index.asp.