Thursday, November 15, 2007
God at Work: Reflections on our Efforts in the Pacific Rim
This week, I'm with the pastoral leadership of one of our churches in Columbus, Ohio at the International Mission Board Pacific Rim Conference.
Although there is much information I cannot share because of security concerns, I want to briefly reflect on the work God is doing in that region of the world, as well as the work I believe God wants to do there.
The Workers: We Southern Baptists are truly unworthy of the mission personnel God has raised up from within our churches! Every time I am around IMB workers I walk away astounded at their conviction and commitment to the are of the world where God has called them.
The Personnel who serve in Pacific Rim region are no different. Last night, I heard the testimony of a worker serving in one of the mos dangerous and "Christian hostile" areas of the world. She serves in a place where her faith might literally one day cost her life. But the fear she expressed in our meeting was not for her life. Instead, she stood in our midst and wept over the lost souls with whom she has developed relationships. Many more such stories were shared that caused me to give thanks to God, and marvel at the way He has so graciously raised up workers for the harvest from churches like ours.
The Need: When I return to the Baltimore area tomorrow, I will bring with me more than 80 individual requests for help that the IMB has made for this region. The needs range in commitment from short-term, one-week efforts to career. More than 30 of these requests are for students, which makes me immediately think of my boys. As parents, our top priority is often, and appropriately, the safety of our children. But how many of us love the Gospel more than our children?
If you want more information on these needs, please call our office and I'll be glad to get you in touch with the appropriate personnel.
The Cost: As we meet to discuss work in this area of the world, the 2008 season has begun for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
While Cooperative Program dollars are used to fund a variety of things, every penny of every dollar given to Lottie is used to underwrite the work of our personnel in the field. Most don't realize that our IMB is the second largest multi-national corporation in the United States, with only the Federal government boasting a larger budget and work force. As I reflect on this, it is fitting that the spread of the Gospel would be given such prominence. Your gift to Lottie Moon this year will ensure that we keep our current workers in the field, and that we send even more. If you are Southern Baptist, you can give this offering through a designated check made ot to your local church, or, you can give here.
The Urgency: Idolatry, spiritual confusion and darkness opress millions of people in the Pacific Rim. With little access to the Gospel, they stand as enemies of God in the wake of the coming King Jesus. This reality should compel us to do everything possible to make the Gospel known among these people. As Paul says with such rhetorical beauty in Romans 10; they can't believe if they don't hear. They can't hear if no one preaches to them. And no one can preach to them unless faithful followers of Jesus send them.
In 2008, our Association will work with our churches engaging several areas of the world, including the Pacific Rim, Southeast Asia, India, Middle America, and the Carribean. But with 55 churches, the only reason we would not eventually have a significant presence on every inhabited continent is disobedience to the Great Commission! Wherever God has called you, I challenge you to engage, to pray, to give, and to go! May God be glorified by our response to His international beckoning this Christmas season!