It was everything I had expected and more. The closing session of the BGCO annual meeting was a powerful testimony to the commitment of Southern and Oklahoma Baptists to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Seventeen new Southern Baptist missionaries were commissioned to go into all the world. It was a moving service that captured our hearts.
Polla and I sat on the first row of Raley Chapel at OBU. We could see the faces filled with emotion as each person shared their call to missions. It is a powerful thing to see and hear these incredibly gifted people tell of their deep desire to go to the darkest places on Earth to tell unseen faces about the Good News of Jesus. These missionaries know they are going into a hostile world armed only with the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. They need nothing more.
One of the most compelling lessons from this commissioning service was the testimony to the tried and true methods of initial mission engagement among Southern Baptists. These new missionaries heard their call primarily through three avenues. God spoke to some of them while they participated in mission trips and short-term assignments—projects that opened their eyes to the tremendous needs and softened their hearts to the voice of God. Others heard their call at summer camp, and some were called during their college experience. In fact, it was altogether significant that this commissioning service occurred on the OBU campus. Oklahoma’s Baptist university has more graduates serving under appointment of the IMB than any other college or university. Two of those commissioned were OBU grads.
To listen to the testimony of these new missionaries was to be confronted with the tough world into which they go. Only first names were printed in the program and prayer guide for safety reasons.
Many will go to Muslim countries. Some will claw out a beachhead in countries where communism still rules.
When I stood before this awesome gathering to speak a word from Oklahoma Baptists, I made a promise. I realize that speaking for Oklahoma Baptists is a risky business, and to make a promise is even more risky. Yet, I made a promise I believe we together will keep. I promised these brave and uniquely committed new missionaries that Oklahoma Baptists would hold the rope for them.
What did I mean? We will sell out to two things in their behalf. First, we will consistently and persistently pray for them. Our prayer will be more than a “God bless the missionaries” ritual prayer. We will do spiritual warfare for them and the people they are trying to reach.
Second, we will give generously. We will defy the normal commitment to the Cooperative Program. Oklahoma Baptists are committed to the Cooperative Program as the main plan for mission support. Ask any missionary and they will tell you that your gifts to the Cooperative Program are the rope that keeps them on the field and telling the Good News of Jesus. We will also give record offerings to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. They can be assured Oklahoma Baptists will not let them down. The rope is in good hands.
My words were bold. I have no fear we will keep our promise. Our missionaries can go and know the rope is being held by faithful and committed Southern Baptist churches that have an Acts 1:8 Kingdom mindset. That is a promise we will keep!
Now is the time to start. As church budgets are finalized, hold the line on CP. This month we begin our annual Lottie Moon Mission Offering. I challenge each of you to give more than ever before to support the sending of our missionaries to the world.