GATLINBURG, Tenn. — On Feb. 7, a commissioning celebration for 59 new North American Mission Board missionaries was held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in Tennessee, in conjunction with the annual National Challengers Rally, a weekend event designed to encourage and mobilize high school boys who participate in the church mission education organization, Baptist Press reported.
More than 700 Challengers from across the country - along with about 400 guests from the community joined the new missionaries for the celebration.
Among the NAMB missionaries being commissioned were church planters, church planter strategists, inner-city ministry center directors, associational missionaries and collegiate evangelism specialists.
Through the event, young Christian students were encouraged to consider where God might be calling them to serve. Also most importantly hundreds of people committed their lives as missionaries or ministers during the event and more people decided to commit their lives to Christ after the event.
Paul Gotthardt, a church starter in Las Vegas, recalled the moment when he was called in 1995.
"Some of you today might be in a similar situation where you're starting to feel the tug and the pull of God possibly towards ministry," he said, later adding, "Don't rush the call, but when God does [call] respond passionately with all your heart. I guarantee you it will be the ride of a lifetime. Enjoy the joys of the journey."
Heather McIver, who works in campus ministry in Syracuse, N.Y., noted how worthwhile it is to serve God and His people.
"It might cost you something to go and follow God with your whole heart, but the rewards you gain are just incredible," she said.
Randy Singer, special assistant and chief counsel for the North American Mission Board, addressed the Challengers as he shared stories about prophet Jeremiah.
"Most scholars believe Jeremiah was about 16 [when he was called]," Singer said. "If you've been called tonight to be a preacher ... don't insult God by saying, 'I can't do it.' He's knows you can't do it. That's why He's called you. You can do it by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that way God gets the glory."
"If the tomb's still empty, we win in the end," Singer said as he challenged the audience to be aware of what is more important, "Tell His story, not only about the suffering of Christ but about the victory of Christ. And be ready to live it out in your experience."
"You are called to change the world right where you live," Singer added.