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WRAP-UP: IMB appoints 36 missionaries

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (BP)–International Mission Board trustees appointed 36 missionaries to be heralds of the Gospel during their Jan. 28-30 meeting in Gainesville, Fla.

But why aren’t there enough heralds to reach a lost world? asked Gordon Fort, IMB vice president for overseas operations, referencing Romans 10. Because not enough heralds have been sent.

If just 10 million of Southern Baptists’ 16-plus million members banded together to send just 1 percent of their number into missions, Fort said, “we would have 100,000 missionaries.”

“We can’t be sitting in a spiritual rocking chair,” Fort added. “We have to do something that can ensure these people groups have a witness.”

There are 600 remaining unengaged, unreached people groups -– each with populations of more than 100,000 -– that have no access to the Gospel, Fort said. To engage these people groups, which represent about 1 billion people around the world, personnel need to be placed among them to implement aggressive church-planting strategies, he said.

To place more missionaries on the field, Southern Baptists need to give even more than they have given in the past to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, IMB treasurer and vice president for finance David Steverson told trustees.

The decreased value of the dollar overseas was the main reason why missionary medical and field parity supplements exceeded their budgeted amounts in 2007, Steverson said.

“We are grateful that we have the field parity supplement account to help our missionaries battle the effects of a weak dollar,” Steverson said. “We are grateful for the tremendous 2006 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that enabled us to appropriate $5.2 million to send 200 new missionaries.”

Because of the declining value of the dollar around the world, board officials have projected that Southern Baptists needed to give $165 million -– meeting the goal for the 2007 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering –- just to sustain budgeted ministries supported by 2006’s record $150 million offering.

A final report on the 2007 Lottie Moon offering total will be released after the May 31 close-out date for offering receipts.


In his report to trustees, IMB President Jerry Rankin said that despite ongoing political sensitivities and restrictions on overt evangelism in parts of the world, doors are opening to the Gospel.

He joined Vietnamese Baptists in Ho Chi Minh City in early January to celebrate Grace Baptist Church’s official recognition by the Vietnamese government. The church also formed a Baptist confederation that is expected to spur evangelism and church-planting efforts throughout the country. Church leaders, as well as a Baptist delegation including Rankin and Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page, met with representatives of the Vietnamese government’s Committee on Religious Affairs.

There are strong foundations of indigenous leadership and stable churches training believers and engaging students and unreached population segments in Southeast Asia, Rankin told trustees.

“What a marvelous opportunity to come alongside them in training, in discipleship, in equipping to continue to support that missions vision,” he said.

Rankin noted that two initiatives -– Hands On and Fusion -– will enable young people to gain missions experience.

Starting this January, students and young adults are taking a semester or year away from college to participate in Hands On missions in sub-Saharan Africa. The IMB is seeking students and young adults for Hands On Africa projects in 2008, with plans to expand to 1,000 students and young adults in multiple regions by 2009, Rankin told trustees.

Rankin also said plans are underway to expand a program called Fusion in which students receive college credit for a year of overseas missions service between high school and college.

“We are sensing a passionate commitment on the part of this generous new generation to give of their lives and to be involved in making a difference in a hurting world,” Rankin said. “We realize that God is stirring in this generation, and we need to provide the diversified channels and opportunities for them to make a difference in the world.”

Trustees also heard plans for the IMB to:

— Form an urban evangelism training model to equip missionaries to reach mega-population cities.

— Host the second annual Global Medical Alliance gathering to project needs and establish partnerships among health care missionaries and medical volunteers.

— Host a national retreat for missionary parents.

— Add a global deaf strategist to mobilize personnel in deaf outreach around the world.

In other business:

— Trustee Wade Burleson of Oklahoma submitted his resignation after the close of the trustee meeting Jan. 30, during which the board modified but kept his censure in place.

— Trustees approved bylaw changes so that the new slate of officers elected in April will begin their service at the close of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting each June.

— Trustees heard a report that Southern Baptists released $1.8 million in hunger and general relief in the last quarter representing more than 90 projects. More than $1.3 million was released to support world hunger needs, $374,000 supported general relief needs and $100,000 went to tsunami aid. Of the 90 projects, 54 were community development ministries and 36 supported disaster relief efforts. During the last quarter, Southern Baptists helped support projects such as hurricane relief in South America, cyclone recovery in southern Asia and food boxes in Zimbabwe.

The next IMB trustee meeting is scheduled for April 7-9 in Sunnyvale, Texas, including an appointment service April 9 at First Baptist Church there.
Released by the international bureau of Baptist Press.

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