MARIETTA, Ga. (BP)–A new video message from Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright urges pastors to lead their congregations into missions experiences that could transform lives both at home and abroad.
The eight-minute video, posted at www.pray4sbc.com, features a testimony about how youth missions involvement dramatically affected the entire congregation of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., where Wright pastors.
Saying, “It would be hard for me to adequately express the spiritual impact this had had on the life of Johnson Ferry,” Wright introduces Ricky Wheeler, the congregation’s missions pastor, to talk about the first youth mission trips nearly 20 years ago.
Wheeler recalls the negative impact spring break trips to the beach were having on the church’s teens. Young people came back apathetic about spiritual matters at a time when church leaders were trying to end the school year on a strong note and prepare for summer youth camps.
“We knew kids wanted to do something significant with their lives. They were into humanitarian efforts,” Wheeler says. When he attended a conference and found an organization that helps plan youth mission trips, “a light came on … I knew right then that was something I needed to look at,” Wheeler says. When Wheeler joined a “vision trip” to see houses being built for families in impoverished communities in Mexico, he knew this was the Lord’s direction for his youth.
With eight weeks of discipleship training before the trips, Johnson Ferry youth had life-changing experiences, Wheeler says, and their enthusiasm soon rippled through the entire congregation.
Pastors with no experience in international missions projects may feel overwhelmed about where to begin planning, but local Baptist associations, the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board have opportunities to offer, Wheeler notes.
“There is no doubt God is stirring in churches all over the world to … have hands-on involvement in international, domestic and local missions,” Wright says in the video. “I would love to see churches around our nation begin to experience what it is like when people begin to know folks in other cultures, when they have shared the love of Christ, when they have given their time to build partnerships in ministry, when they have shared the Gospel and seen people entering the Kingdom of God through faith in Christ.
“It is life-transforming, and it certainly is what Christ commands us to do — taking the Gospel to every people group on earth,” Wright says.
The full video may be viewed at www.pray4sbc.com.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.