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TRUSTEES: Business leaders to be mobilized by IMB, churches to ‘carry the light’

LAKE CHARLES, La. (BP) — Within every Southern Baptist church there are people who can take the Gospel around the world — business professionals, IMB President Tom Elliff said.

Elliff announced a new component to the International Mission Board’s partnership with Southern Baptist churches during the March 20-21 trustee meeting at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La.: “… a global, strategic mobilization of businessmen and women, corporate leaders across the [Southern Baptist] Convention …”

Through global strategic mobilization (GSM), IMB will offer business leaders and their organizations training and equipping to be “active, effective sowers of the seed of the Gospel across the world.”

The goal is to multiply Great Commission impact by mobilizing business leaders as well as other leaders in their professions across the SBC to “carry the light” of the Gospel into their arenas, Elliff said, noting that the GSM concept is an acknowledgement of the first-century practice of believers carrying the Gospel along Roman roads of commerce.

“Through the addition of this component, missionaries and business leaders will work together toward the vision of a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ,” Elliff said.

In May 2011, IMB initiated a marketplace initiatives task force that has been studying scriptural practices and contemporary possibilities throughout the business world. This May, a team of business leaders will meet in Dallas to provide an additional “think tank” as GSM is developed.


Gordon Fort, IMB global strategy vice president, shared with trustees examples of this affinity approach, where a common bond ties people together.

In Africa, for example, a Southern Baptist worker is sharing the Gospel with a group of 31 Deaf people living together in a remote spot, hidden away from a society that rejects and discounts them.

The worker shared the story of the rich, young ruler (Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18) with the group to illustrate how God values spiritual earnestness rather than external superficiality. A 12-year-old girl responded by praying in sign language, “Oh, God, I will never be like the rich, young ruler who kept his wealth. I will give my life so others can know You.”

IMB estimates there are 35 million Deaf in the world classified as an affinity group, and most of them have never seen the “sign” for Jesus, Fort said.


Ken Winter, IMB vice president for church and partner services, gave trustees an update on Hands On, an initiative to give college students and young adults opportunities to serve alongside IMB personnel for a semester on the international mission field.

In 2011, 216 students served with 87 field teams worldwide, Winter said. The majority of their work took place among unreached people groups.

“God is using these students and young adults for Kingdom impact through their semester on the field and preparing them for a lifetime of service wherever He may lead,” Winter said.

Five former Hands On missionaries currently are completing training to return overseas, three as journeyman missionaries and two as career missionaries.

“We pray that the financial resources would be unleashed for 1,000 students per year to be sent as Hands On workers,” Winter said.


IMB Treasurer David Steverson cautioned trustees to prepare for a sobering financial report later this year. Steverson plans to give trustees a report on the annual financial statements during their next meeting, May 22-23 in Nashville, Tenn.

The economy and financial markets continue to struggle and “2011 was not a good year financially,” Steverson said.

Despite global financial downturns, the Lord provides for His people, he said, noting that the Lord provided the Israelites wandering in the wilderness with enough manna to eat — but it came one day at a time.

“We need to take what the Lord provides, just as He provides it, and when He provides it,” Steverson said, “and be good stewards of all of it and spend it wisely.”

In other business, IMB trustees:

— approved the appropriation of $3,437,495 for 106 human needs projects — $2,658,352 for world hunger needs and $779,143 for general relief needs.

— appointed 61 new missionaries for a total missionary count of 4,857.

— granted emeritus status to 14 missionary units representing 621 years of service and expressed appreciation for their service.

— marked the passing of 51 missionaries and staff members in 2011: 39 emeritus missionaries who served an average of 29 years each, five retired staff members, four active-service missionaries, two children of missionaries (one at age 12 and one at 2 months) and one active-service staff member.

A missionary appointment service is scheduled May 23 at Brentwood (Tenn.) Baptist Church in conjunction with the IMB trustees’ May 22-23 meeting in Nashville.
Kate Gregory is an IMB writer/editor. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Kate Gregory