New Wave of Missionaries Responds to the Call to Witness

( [email protected] ) Sep 22, 2004 05:39 PM EDT

Although they came from a variety of backgrounds all of the 45 new overseas missionaries had been chosen by God to take a Spirit-empowered witness to suffering and hopeless people throughout the world, said the president of the International Mission Board during a recent appointment service.

The new missionaries, appointed during the Sept. 15 ceremony, consisted of a diverse group of individuals, ranging from architects to basketball coaches, and from cities from Sofia, Bulgaria to Camden, South Carolina. But even with such contrasting backgrounds, each had been chosen by God “to carry the light” and to set free those who are “in spiritual bondage and darkness because they do not know the light of the world,” said IMB President Jerry Rankin.

"I'm telling you, there is no greater thrill than to have the opportunity of being the first one to tell someone about Jesus,” Ranking declared. “You cannot imagine the thrill of seeing their eyes begin to sparkle and the light of understanding begin to dawn that there is a God who loves them and has given His Son to save them from sin.

"It's a message that the world is waiting to hear."

One new worker, a Honduras-born physician, who gave his reflection on being called and appointed to be a missionary to Panama said, “I was practicing pediatrics and loved my life.”

But then “during Bible study, I came to the story of the rich young ruler and realized I was in a similar situation. I needed to decide if I loved my material possessions more than being obedient to God. I chose obedience,” said the worker.

Another new missionary, who will serve with his wife and two children in South Asia, said: "I was looking for success—money, influence, and my own business. Then one day, a man challenged me to define success. He added that the true definition is found in the Bible. That day changed my life forever. Now we live for true success: living to please God—in His timing."

One couple that will take three young children to the Russian Far East said that God had blessed Christians in America so that they can be a blessing to others who have yet to hear.

“During my college freshman year, I learned about unreached people groups and their need for the Gospel," said the husband. "After several volunteer assignments to different regions of the world and seeing missionaries at work, we knew it was time to commit our lives. The people to whom we are going are desperate and searching. We have the answer: Jesus Christ."

"I imagine my life as a plot of land that has been tilled by God since my birth," said his wife. "The tools God has used have been significant people in my life like my parents, GA and Acteen leaders, teachers and missionaries. Without God's tools, people like you and me, my plot of land would be weeds."

Once a person understands how lost the world is, it’s almost impossible not to respond, said a young man who will serve in Western Europe with his wife and two young children.

Gordon For, the board’s vice president for overseas operations told the new workers that every day, missionaries overseas face difficult situations that can cause them to ask whether they are in the right place.

He spoke of two missionary couples—one of which endured two car- jackings a year apart and another that wrestled with a life-threatening illness. However, like other missionaries, they continue to serve because they know God called them to give their lives in witness and ministry.

"What are they doing with their lives? Refusing to allow the Enemy to deter them from doing what God has called them to do," Fort said.

To encourage other Christians to obey God’s call to bear witness and make disciples among all the world’s peoples, Fort told those gathered, “My encouragement to you, as you consider the claims of Christ on your life tonight, is perhaps God has been speaking to you for a long time and you have resisted His call. Maybe tonight He will give you a second chance to say, ‘Yes, Lord, where You lead, I’ll go.’”

But as for the 45 newly appointed missionary, who have chosen to go that path, Fort said what they would share with them would be from 2 Timothy 4, which states “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

The next IMB trustee meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15-17 in Oklahoma City, with a missionary appointment service Nov. 16 at First Southern Baptist Church in Del City.