The NAMB and IMB commissioning services were a highlight of the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention. A total of 40 missionaries were commissioned in the services on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons of the convention.
The NAMB service highlighted “Send>North America.” Dr. Kevin Ezell did a masterful job of weaving video clips with his own telling of the stories of some of our North American missionaries who were then introduced in person.
The IMB service emphasized the role of the new appointees to be “His Heart. His Hands. His Voice” in the places of the world to which they are going. Each appointee shared a bit of his or her story of sensing God’s call to missions. It was thrilling to hear the number of women who mentioned the role of GAs (Girls in Action) in their call.
Two Kentucky couples were appointed. Due to security issues, their full names were not included in the program. One couple is the daughter and son-in-law of one of our Directors of Missions. The wife in the other couple worked at Cedar Crest, the WMU camp, back in the 1990’s. I had the opportunity to tell each couple about the support that Kentucky WMU provides to our missionaries. It meant a great deal to them that a number of us from Kentucky were there supporting them . Please pray for these couples as they go to orientation at the International Learning Center in July.
The culmination of the IMB appointment service, and even of this Southern Baptist Convention meeting, was the call to each person to “embrace the ends of the earth.” We were challenged earlier in the day by the message of Dr. David Platt that there are over 6000 unreached people group. An unreached people group is 2% or less evangelized. Of those, 3,800 are unengaged. This means that no one is doing anything to take the gospel to them.
The clarion call in every facet of this SBC was that every Southern Baptist Church embrace an unreached people group. It is more than a call to adopt them for prayer, though that is the starting point. It is a call to “embrace” a group, being willing to do whatever it takes to get the gospel to them. Churches who embrace a group may have no idea how they might be a part of engaging a people group, but are willing to start praying for God’s work among the group.
It has been a long time since I walked an aisle – too long. But tonight I walked the aisle in Phoenix with a completed form promising that I will lead my church to do whatever it takes to embrace a people group. Though I filled out the form with information about my church, I really had in mind much more. I hugged a new appointee as I placed my form in the paper sach she held, and thought of Kentucky WMU.
Will we embrace the ends of the earth? To embrace a people group means a real commitment to prayer. It involves a commitment to a sustained, effective church planting strategy. I don’t know where that will lead us, but God will use us if we are willing. Learn more: www.call2embrace.org