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SBC DIGEST: Youth mobilized through IMB’s GO IMPACT; NOBTS’ Caskey Center logs 50,000 Gospel conversations

Youth mobilized to the nations through GO IMPACT

By IMB Staff

The International Mission Board is introducing the GO IMPACT program for teens. It’s an avenue for youth groups to serve together overseas with an IMB missionary team. Registration is now open for Summer 2022 trips.

Groups of teenagers age 15 and up can join the long-term, strategic efforts of IMB missionaries already overseas. In total, 28 opportunities are currently available for students to do their part in helping Southern Baptists see the Revelation 7:9 vision become a reality.

Trips will last between eight and 14 days, and projects are available in Argentina, Belgium, Botswana, Chile, Germany, Kosovo, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

“Imagine mission being as normative in student ministry as Sunday school or summer camp or pizza dinners,” Kelly Davis, director of mobilization support for the IMB said. “It’s not impossible and we want to help.

“Southern Baptist students are willing to go, to be obedient, but they need to be given the opportunity. GO IMPACT and the IMB provide churches and youth leaders with a packaged missions opportunity that includes direct connection to field strategy and personnel, relevant participant training, support with every aspect of the trip and real leadership opportunities for their students.”

George Siler, IMB’s manager of volunteer programs, echoed that idea.

“We want to see teenagers own the responsibility of fulfilling the Great Commission in obedience to Christ wherever He calls them,” he said. “With GO IMPACT, IMB is ramping up with opportunities and support for churches to engage high school youth in the mission.”

Each group of 15-25 students, accompanied by adult trip leaders from their church, will join in the established work alongside their IMB missionary host.

The trip will be coordinated by an IMB travel agent, who will work to provide the best airfares and arrangements that will avoid problems, monitor country entry requirements, coordinate arrival time with the missionary host, and provide travel assistance to the group. The travel agent will also arrange emergency insurance that will cover participants in case of accidents, illness or crisis.

In addition, the IMB will provide training for group leaders and structured planning with the host missionary as well as coaching and follow-up with the church.

“A remarkable thing happened at IMB during the pandemic. While many organizations dialed back on engagement, our leadership doubled down with bold plans for increasing our number of missionaries and partnerships with churches. GO IMPACT is part of that daring vision to see God call workers to the harvest,” Siler said.

Trips are available now, but they are likely to fill up quickly. If you already have a connection with an IMB missionary, contact them and let them know you’d like to use the GO IMPACT pathway to set up a trip. For more information, visit imb.org/goimpact or contact [email protected].

NOBTS Caskey Center marks 50,000 Gospel conversations

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

Counting gospel conversations was never the end goal for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College’s Caskey Center scholarship program that requires students to share the Gospel weekly. The point was to lead others to faith.

But seven years into the program, Caskey scholarship recipients recently crossed the mark of 50,000 gospel conversations.

Jeff Farmer, Caskey Center associate director and statistician, said each Gospel conversation is the result of students becoming intentional in sharing.

“We’re now over 50,000 times that students have left their comfort zones and have contended for the faith,” Farmer said. “[The students] don’t count conversations with believers. These are all unbelievers. We celebrate that.”

The Caskey Center provides resources, including a designated number of scholarships, for bivocational and smaller membership church ministers in Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

While 50,000 might seem impressive, Farmer pointed to a “more gratifying” statistic – the number who have come to faith in Christ.

“Each semester … we’ve seen approximately 12 percent of those conversations ending up with people coming to faith in Christ,” Farmer said. “That means there are over 6,000 new believers because of this evangelism requirement.”

Steve Kelley, a Leavell College student and Caskey scholarship recipient, logged the 50,000th conversation on Sept. 20. Though Kelley’s conversation did not result in a profession of faith that day, he continues faithfully to share.

“The Lord does the saving. We do the sharing and He takes care of the rest,” Kelley said.

Kelley, a Leavell College student and minister of evangelism at Highland Baptist Church, Gordo, Ala., said sharing weekly did not feel natural at first. Prayer was the key, he said.

With gratitude, Kelley pointed to Caskey Center director Mark Tolbert’s encouragement to pray each Monday morning for opportunities that week to share and to ask for an alertness to the spiritual conditions of others.

“The most powerful thing we can do is pray,” Kelley said. “Everything we do spiritually starts there.”

While the Caskey scholarship made a seminary education financially possible for Kelley, it was the program’s emphasis on weekly evangelism that “made all the difference” to his ministry, Kelley said.

“It’s easy to get into the thought of, ‘You’re just wasting your time’ or ‘These people don’t care about the Gospel.’ That’s the continual pounding in your ears from the enemy,” Kelley said. “But when you can actually see that seed planted and come to fruition, it gives you an inner spark, an energy to continue going forward and make it a priority.”

Caskey students often lead their fellow church members to commit also to sharing the Gospel each week, Farmer said, adding that while only Caskey students’ conversations are recorded in the tally, leading others to share regularly shows what happens when believers live out the Great Commission.

A Gospel conversation is defined as a one-on-one conversation with an unbeliever that transitions to the Gospel, Farmer explained.

“We try to emphasize that the only time you fail at evangelism is when you don’t speak up,” he said. “Let the Holy Spirit do His job. My job is to share my story and how my life has been impacted by the Gospel. God will do the rest.”

Farmer pointed to the book “Sharing Jesus Without Fear” by William Fay. Fay’s simple approach keeps Scripture central in evangelism, which helps relieve the fear of sharing. Farmer pointed out that everyone has a comfort zone, but being intentional about sharing the Gospel means simply going “one step further.”

Farmer noted that all Caskey scholarship recipients serve at smaller membership churches, a focus that reflects the Southern Baptist Convention’s history.

“It’s our past but it can be our future,” Farmer said. “We are a small church denomination and small churches can make a big impact on the world for the cause of Christ. I anticipate that the next 50,000 [conversations] won’t take as long. I think we are gathering some steam here.”

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