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SBC DIGEST: IMB promotes global rural network; Wyndell Jones dies

Global rural network wants rural churches to partner with IMB

By Sue Sprenkle/IMB

Reaching rural communities with the Gospel is something Jeff Clark is passionate about. He grew up in a farming community. Then, God called him to minister among rural peoples in Asia. It’s only natural for the International Mission Board rural network mobilizer to envision his two worlds colliding — rural churches in the U.S. connecting with IMB’s rural ministries through a global rural network.

A goatherd watches over his flock. IMB’s Global Rural Network wants to connect rural churches with rural projects like goats to help missionary teams gain access for sharing the Gospel. IMB Photo

“It doesn’t matter where you are from or even if you share a language, rural people connect with each other in a special way,” Clark explained. “Half the barrier is resolved when a guy in Kenya says, ‘I’ve got 10 goats. What do you know?’ And the American answers, ‘I’ve got 60 in Indiana.’ This connection can open access for sharing the Gospel.”

The Global Rural Network, a renewed commitment to make the Gospel accessible in rural settings, will connect churches with IMB missionary teams working among the world’s 3.7 billion rural peoples. Clark encouraged churches to band together through partnerships or their local Baptist associations to go on a trip.

“Small and medium-sized churches can be involved in missions, too,” Clark said. “Even if you are just sending one, that’s important. Maybe you aren’t sending anyone, but you can pray for the associational group going. Rural ministries have a place for you to be involved.”

Molly Petry emphasized building relationships with rural peoples is the best way to gain Gospel access. She works on a rural community development team serving Central Asia. There are only a few major cities in this region of the world, so that means people live in thousands of villages or small towns in the country. There are no churches meeting within hours of them.

“Most villagers will never run across a believer. They don’t even have regular access to TV channels or internet to be exposed to Christian material,” Petry explained. “Our team is often the first believers they meet and that’s a huge impact.”

The rural development projects allow the team to spend time building trust and relationships among the various small communities. The team uses extended time over meals and tea to get to know people and share Bible stories. After the project is finished, they keep these relationships strong by visiting to encourage and disciple isolated believers.

Clark called “relationships” the currency of rural communities around the world. He emphasized these rural ministries are not looking for someone to preach. They need everyday people with everyday skills.

“If you’re saying to yourself, ‘All I know is cows,’ I have a missionary in Africa begging to have someone help him understand Holsteins,” Clark reasoned. “IMB wants to help you see how to use your unique gifts overseas.”

Contact Jeff Clark at [email protected] for more information about the Global Rural Network and how you can connect.

Some names have been changed for security

O. Wyndell Jones, former BCI executive, dies at 90

By BP Staff

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP) – O. Wyndell Jones, who held leadership roles in many areas of Southern Baptist Convention life, died March 1 in Franklin. He was 90.

“Dr. Jones answered a call to the ministry at a young age and lived fully into that call with unwavering sincerity, commitment, and integrity for over seven decades,” his obituary reads. “He was supported and encouraged throughout his ministry by his closest and most ardent ministry partner and wife of 65 years, Audie Jenkins Jones. Together, they built a life grounded in faith and service.”

Jones began serving as the executive director-treasurer of the Baptist Convention of Iowa in 1985. It was then the Iowa Baptist State Fellowship. He began to lead the process toward turning the organization into a state Baptist convention. He served there until his retirement in 2001.

“Dr. Jones provided strong and decisive leadership in a time when we really needed it,” former BCI staff member John Shaull said.

Prior to his tenure in Iowa, Jones served as chairman of evangelism at the then-Home Mission Board, president of the Tennessee Baptist Executive Board, as well as on the boards of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation and the Alabama Baptist Mission Board.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Audie Jenkins Jones, and his sister, Mary Jones Hardy. He is survived by his daughters Kathy Stanley and Karen Jones, as well as grandchildren Adam Gauthier and Katy Deak (Fabien Bouchet). A funeral was held Thursday, March 7, in Franklin, Tenn.

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