FIRST-PERSON: It's time
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) -- I am a new International Mission Board trustee and, having now attended three trustee meetings, I am struck by the gravity of the responsibility we as Southern Baptists have for the people we put on the mission field and the lost people of the world to whom they are called to share the Gospel.
The IMB has approved a balanced budget that includes adding missionaries for the first time in nine years. My prayer is that Southern Baptists would focus on the task at hand as never before taking the Gospel to the people of the world who have not yet heard.
God has always called us, as followers of Christ, to give our best. I have marveled at the quality of individuals God has called to the mission field -- those who are being sent by us as Southern Baptists. When I was in business and now on a church staff, I would have hired any of these individuals we are sending to the mission field.
At the most recent board meeting, I sat across from a couple at dinner with a 1-year-old boy. They are headed to a tough place in the world. I asked about their background and preparation for the mission field and learned that Daniel* earned a degree in engineering from Georgia Tech and Cindy* earned an interior design degree from Georgia Southern. Daniel attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and worked at an engineering firm to support his family through seminary.
As I listened to the testimonies of these soon-to-be missionaries, I heard the word "obedience" over and over. Their obedience to the call demands our requirement to unite and financially support Southern Baptist missions efforts to send even more. We are sending the most qualified and the best trained -- and nothing less is required of us here in our churches.
During a previous board meeting, I listened to Nathan* and Ellen* tell how the Lord led each of them, independently, to the call to missions. Nathan holds a degree in electrical engineering from Florida State and was successfully working in an engineering firm. Ellen holds a psychology degree from Florida State and was working there as a researcher when God called them. They left their careers and with their nine-month-old baby, Carrie*, are following the Lord in obedience to their call to the mission field.
As we sat in the room visiting, Ellen's mother stood out in the hall holding Carrie. Her mother could not stop the tears. You see Nathan and Ellen had already spent three years in West Africa as short-term church planters, where they had buried their first baby, Christopher*. Now they had surrendered to a lifelong missionary career to go back to the country where Christopher is buried to take the Gospel to that part of Africa. Ellen's mother was not the only one with tears.
It's time to focus and "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" Matthew 28:19–20.