Southern Baptists have always been a mission-minded people. China was one of our first mission fields. Lottie Moon, Bertha Smith, and Bill Wallace are only a few of the legendary names of those who served this vast nation.
Missions once was seen as something carried out by long-term missionaries, who spent their lives on a foreign field. In the early days, when travel was so hard, missionaries rarely returned home. As travel became more available and convenient, missionaries would come home for furloughs. While the name has changed for these excursions home, the practice is similar today.
Something else has changed. Missions is not just about long-term missionaries sent by the mission board. While these missionaries are the foundation of missions, we now see tens of thousands of volunteers spending one or two weeks on mission leading a variety of projects to advance the cause of Christ. In addition, more and more effort is made to utilize the exponentially increasing number of Americans who live overseas because of their occupations.
I have just returned from East Asia with a group of highly successful business leaders from Oklahoma. These business leaders conducted seminars focused on core values that were utilized while growing their businesses. Two purposes were at work in these seminars. Most believers in East Asia are first generation and have no idea how to apply their faith to daily business activity. Through their stories, this group of Oklahoma business leaders sought to show the East Asia leaders that a person can be successful and at the same time live out their faith in how they conduct business. Others attending the seminars are non-believers; therefore, every presentation is wrapped in the Gospel. Each Oklahoma business leader boldly shared the difference Christ has made in business and family.
I love watching our Oklahoma business leaders at breaks or lunch sitting with our Asian friends, sharing the Gospel, and answering questions of life, business, and faith. We also find a way to invite people to faith in Christ. Each year we have conducted these seminars, we have seen many people become followers of Jesus Christ.
The impact from these efforts is widespread. Asian business leaders who attend these seminars are influencers and have thousands of employees. When we reach one of these Asian business leaders with the Gospel, the results are far reaching. On one such trip, a man who is a manager of a large company came to Christ. He got up at a banquet and stated, “Tonight, I received the greatest gift. Tomorrow, I will treat my employees differently.” He got it! Christ saves for eternity, but also changes us today!
Oklahoma Baptists are traveling the world sharing the Good News of Jesus in a variety of ways. People from small and large churches are making an impact with the Gospel. The world has shrunk. Today, everybody can be a missionary! Indeed, you can be a missionary no matter what age. We have teens on mission around the world, and one of my most recent team members was 79 years old!
Never forget that when we get on the plane to come home from these mission ventures, our missionaries remain behind to conserve the fruit of our labors and to advance the Gospel every day of the year. These missionaries are there because your church is faithful in giving through the Cooperative Program and to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.