More than 500 people gathered at the Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin July 31-August 5, to support the World Mission Ministry of the American Baptist Church (ABC). The conference, entitled “Equipping Leaders," brought together members from around the world to celebrate the ABC’s current mission work and to reflect the mission priority of International Ministries and its global partners.
The Conference leaders rallied to raise funds for the Church’s international ministries, which last year had to cut staff, programs, national partner grants and operating costs because of the financial deficit.
Despite such budget cuts, the leaders explained that the International Ministries still face a shortfall of $1.5 million to sustain existing projects and ministries. Ultimately, the leaders said the World Mission Offering must increase by 36% - from $4.2 million to $5.7 million – to avoid recalling missionaries abroad from service.
Accordingly, the missionaries, staff, board members and conferees were sporting “36% More” stickers to increase awareness of the dire need. The Keynote speakers also stressed the financial situation as they challenged this year’s contestants to respond to the need by relying on God’s power and provisions.
"While we acknowledge the great challenges ahead, we are evermore hopeful that God is leading International Ministries into a brighter future--one in which more American Baptists will be more enthusiastically involved in what God is doing around the world,” said International Ministries Acting Executive Director the Rev. Charles H. Jones.
The Conference keynote speaker, Dr. Bill Clemmer, reminded leaders that they must be called, have a zeal for the gospel, be doers of the word and to be willing to supplant their vision with God’s vision.
"Feed my sheep, do unto others, love one another as I have loved you . . . that's all the calling we'll ever need," declared Clemmer.
Dr. Clemmer, with his wife Ann, is currently serving his third term as a medical missionary in D.R. Congo. Testifying the experiences he and his wife shared while serving, D.R. explained how God always met the needs of those who prayed.
"His are the cattle on a thousand hills," he said. "Prayer . . . unleashed a shower of blessings beyond my wildest dreams." He quoted author William Taylor's article, "Too Valuable to Lose," about the attrition of missionaries in recent years.
"The gospel has been proclaimed in economic hard times and good times," he said. "God has a plan for the world that He has demonstrated time and time again, and He will go on with or without us. We implore you to help keep us all engaged in God's ministry across the globe, for we are all too valuable to lose."
Daily Bible study leader, the Rev. Dr. Ken Fong, senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church, Los Angeles, Calif., challenged conferees to not only give 36 percent more to erase the deficit, but 100 percent more to the World Mission Offering to enable those whom God is calling today to begin serving in global mission.
By the Conference’s end, attendees gave a total offering of $85,095 to the cause, including pledges, for the World Mission Offering. Prior to the start of the conference, International Ministries' missionaries, board and staff members had already pledged over $100,000 to help reduce the deficit.
Special guests came from the Czech Republic, India, Spain, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa, Japan, and Argentina.