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Southern Baptists celebrate sending 42 new missionaries

 

RICHMOND, Va.—Southern Baptists celebrated the appointment of 42 new missionaries in a service held Nov. 14, near Richmond, Va. Churches of all sizes from Louisiana to Indiana and North Carolina to Kansas are sending singles, couples and families to large cities, small villages and hard-to-reach places around the world.

Vance Pitman, senior pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, reminded new missionaries and those attending of the importance of cooperative giving and cooperative going.

"This is our denomination at its absolute best," Pitman said. "This is the tip of the spear. We can do more together than we can do by ourselves."

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Those gathered to celebrate the appointment of 42 new missionaries at a Nov. 14 IMB service near Richmond, Va., hold cards with the names of people groups around the world. The group prayed for each people group by name.

Preaching from Acts 1-2, Pitman described four characteristics that enabled the early church to change the world: faith that produced obedience, passion that produced unity, desperation that produced prayer and the Spirit that produced power.

At Pentecost, a small group of people launched a church in Jerusalem that saw 3,000 people saved on its opening day, Pitman said. "That is a successful church start!" he exclaimed.

"At their second gathering, 5,000 men came to Christ, not counting the women and children," he noted. "Within six months, the church had grown to over 100,000 believers in Jerusalem.... Within a few years the Gospel had spread throughout their region of the world, and in less than 40 years, the message of Jesus had reached every corner of the known world."

Reaching every corner

The 42 missionaries will serve in countries around the world. Many of those appointed could not be identified publicly for their own safety. Pitman reminded them that the first Christians were also called to start a church in Jerusalem—"a place where Jesus was whipped, beaten, tried, crucified, and buried; a place that hated them and their God."

Each of the new missionaries shared testimonies of how God led them to the point of giving up the comforts of their everyday lives to take the Gospel around the world. They came from large and small churches and a variety of backgrounds.

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Chris Carter/IMB

Paul Chitwood and his wife Michelle talk with Jonathan and Rebecca McNeil, sent by Pleasant View Baptist Church in Waynesburg, Ky. Jonathan and Rebecca are two of 42 missionaries appointed by IMB trustees in its meeting Nov. 14. The couple will serve in Poland.

Singular focus

Among the new missionaries, Pleasant View Baptist Church in Waynesburg, Ky., is sending Jonathan and Rebecca McNeil to serve in Poland, where Jonathan grew up.

"Growing up as a missionary kid in Poland, God opened my eyes to the lostness of the world and the saving power of the Gospel through a personal relationship with Jesus," he said. "In 2013, God opened the door for me to return to Poland as a single IMB missionary."

"Personal Bible study and biblically faithful preaching opened my eyes to God's plans for the nations to worship Him through His Son," Rebecca said. "As I prayed for God to send workers to the harvest, He made it clear to me by sending me to serve (a two-year assignment) in Poland."

Describing what it must have been like for the disciples as they watched Christ ascend into heaven and leave them with the task of global evangelism, Pitman encouraged the new missionaries to embrace the "desperation that produces prayer."

"The disciples returned to Jerusalem and devoted themselves to prayer," Pitman said. "And they didn't stop praying until God showed up to tell them how they were going to do what God told them to do."

This singular focus prepared those early disciples for the outpouring of God's Spirit that came at Pentecost, Pitman said, cautioning, "Prayer is not powerful. The One to whom we pray is powerful."

"The most important thing you carry to (your place of service) is not your training," Pitman told the new missionaries. "The most important thing you carry with you is your intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus." (WR)

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