“If our passion is the advance of the Gospel,” Hance Dilbeck said to stateside missionaries, “then any old circumstance will do. Photo by Chris Forbes

Oklahoma Baptists hosted a luncheon Aug. 12 for 34 International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries and their children who are currently living on stateside assignment Oklahoma. Some of the missionaries are currently in Oklahoma due to planned furloughs, while others are awaiting the lifting of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in the countries where they serve.

Amy Cordova, missions and women’s ministries partner for Oklahoma Baptists, explained the purpose of the gathering was to let these missionaries know Oklahoma Baptists support them in these difficult times.

”Due to the pandemic, traveling has been limited across the globe,” Cordova said. “Many of our missionaries have found themselves in the states for an extended period of time. We wanted to gather those who are stateside and provide them a space to fellowship and be encouraged.”

Stateside IMB missionaries gather for fellowship, encouragement - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 1

Oklahoma Baptists team members help care for missionary kids during luncheon. Photo by Brian Hobbs

The luncheon included presentations from Oklahoma Baptist staff who shared the vision of the state convention, as well as current strategies for partnership missions and the Oklahoma missions pipeline, specifically highlighting GoStudents. Missionary children and youth also had age-appropriate food and fellowship.

Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer with Oklahoma Baptists, shared a message from Phil. 1:12-14 encouraging the missionaries not to lose heart because they are not currently able to be in the countries in which they normally serve.

“Sometimes it is tempting to think that adverse circumstances are limiting our progress,” he said. “But Paul writes while in prison, ‘I want you to know that my circumstances are actually resulting in the greater progress of the Gospel.’ You see the passion Paul had for the Gospel despite his circumstances.

Stateside IMB missionaries gather for fellowship, encouragement - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 2

“We wanted to gather those who are stateside,” Amy Cordova said, “and provide them a space to fellowship and be encouraged.” Photo by Chris Forbes

“If our passion is about the progress of our career, or the health and well-being of our family, or comfort, or wealth or fame, then we are always battling circumstances. But if our passion is the advance of the Gospel, then any old circumstance will do.”

Southeast Asian Affinity missionary Rocky Brewer said the event was a needed respite for him and his wife Anne (names changed for security purposes). The couple has been waiting in Oklahoma City several months for clearance to return to serve the people to whom God has called them.

“The meeting was a wonderful time to get together with other missionaries.” Brewer said. “It was a much-needed time of refreshment and encouragement. I was particularly impressed and encouraged to hear of the recent re-focus of energy and resources toward increasing giving to the IMB and also the goal of sending more missionaries out from Oklahoma Baptist churches.”