USA (MNN) — Urgency was the underlying theme of the International Mission Board appointment service on April 9.
This year, the International Mission Board is sending out 92 new missionaries around the world. They come from all walks of life–young, old, seminary degrees and GEDs, married or single. At the appointment service, many of them spoke of the first time they felt God's undeniable call to missions.
For many, leaving behind the things they've always known was a difficult decision to make. One man said he was always a "pew warmer," and his wife's answer to his desire to go overseas was, "No way, not me." But now, they are taking their family, giving away their animals, and heading for Northern Africa and the Middle East.
IMB President Jerry Ranking gave them and their families this consolation: "We know the mixed emotions you must be experiencing. I've seen my children appointed and taken my
grandchildren to the other side of the world. Even though I have a heart for missions, there was something painful about that."
He added, "God has a special touch of grace for you. You should be very proud that God has chosen your sons and daughters to be the ones to fulfill His will and His mission."
For Grace Johnson, whose name has been changed for security purposes, the urgency of the Gospel became real when she was 23, and it compels her to return to the mission field. At age
23, Johnson was serving as a nurse on a short term mission trip. She was warned not to travel to a certain part of the city because it was deemed much too dangerous. One day, a woman from that part of the city came to the medical facility in which Johnson served; she was slowly dying following a miscarriage, and the doctors could do nothing about it. Johnson watched the woman pass away without knowing Christ, thinking that she should have taken the chance to go to the other part of the city.
Later, the woman's family invited Johnson into their home because of the care that she had shown their daughter. Johnson was eventually able to share the Gospel, and several of them came to the Lord.
Rankin addressed something many Americans have a difficult time comprehending: "We just can't imagine living in a place that's never heard the name of Jesus–living a lifetime in futile search for your eternal destiny, never knowing that there's a Savior who died for you."
As these new missionaries take on their new tasks and face inevitable challenges, Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as a pastor, said, "We have a
purpose, and part of that purpose is to undergird the work of these dear missionaries. My challenge is to step up to the plate more than ever before, to pray, to give, to come alongside and go with these missionaries who are being sent to the ends of the earth."