FIRST PERSON: Learn how to open your home, and your heart

 
People gathering together is a universal activity throughout the world. And there's nothing quite like a room full of women bringing international food! The air quickly fills with smells of curry and sounds of repetitive conversations. We each have to restate words several times to comprehend what is being said through thick accents. (Or a southern accent in my case.) Learning to love people from other cultures is a process. It's not something we automatically do. Have you noticed that? ...

Retirees find ways to serve Christ by serving BCF

 
Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service have made their annual trip to Graceville, where they have been helping as needed on the Baptist College of Florida campus. For the past few weeks, they have focused their efforts on remodeling, plumbing, painting, updating electrical outlets and installing new flooring for a house recently purchased by Baptist College of Florida. RVICS is comprised of retired Christian men and women who travel and live in recreational vehicles and campers in order to ...

Africa: Preparing for the next missions epicenter

 
Historian Richard Bulliet suggests that early Muslims recounted the story of the spread of Islam as if it had one center, like an inkblot diffusing outward from a center that remains set and inexorably stained. In contrast, when we look at the story of the spread of God's Kingdom, we see something more like shifting epicenters of earthquakes. Sudden, tectonic shifts occur and then shock waves go out from the center to spread the Gospel far and wide. Once the ...

Why not take kids on overseas mission trips?

 
We were celebrities and oddities in a rolling caravan. And by rolling, I mean with actual wheels—a double stroller and several wheeled suitcases trailing my husband Steven and me as we careened through an Asian airport with our two boys, ages 3 and 1. In an American airport, perhaps we would have been a passing entertainment, avoided in security lines and processed with great pains. Yet in this Asian country, as I sweated my way through an immigration line, it ...

Idlewild shows how a clean bus can lead to a Gospel conversation

 
Barry Chesney, minister for local missions at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, shared some stories of Gospel impact with me recently as we talked about Idlewild’s One Day churchwide local missions initiative. Twice a year, members participate in projects to serve the community and spread the Gospel message through acts of service. Barry told me about a project Idlewild did last year where a team washed school buses and left gift bags for the drivers. One driver was ...

FIRST-PERSON: Don't waste a youthful faith

 
When I lived in Central Asia, it was very interesting to see how many of the young Muslims viewed their religion. They said that, at their age, they could enjoy life and wait until an older age to get serious about religion. Their thinking was that God is more interested in the afterlife, and that only becomes an issue when you are close to the afterlife, which is where old people find themselves. Once you are of a grandparent-type age, ...

Blind preacher from Florida has a heart for people of Italy

 
RJ Sandefur attends First Baptist Church of Okeechobee. He is a preacher. He is blind. Despite his special need, RJ has not stopped preaching the Gospel, and he considers his lack of sight a means for God to glorify Himself through him. Sandefur, who is currently starting a career as an evangelist, has a burden for the country of Italy on his heart. “Here’s the thing about the country of Italy,” he said recently in a ...

Even for the redeemed, the work of cooperation is challenging

 
"Jesus: to the Neighborhood and the Nations" was the cry during the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans. That cry for missions and cooperation encapsulates the heart of Southern Baptists since the days of men like Jesse Mercer and women like Lottie Moon. It was during that SBC when I heard seminary president Danny Akin say to a group of pastors: Within Southern Baptist life we have different theological ideas. We disagree on different issues but we agree ...

Lottie Moon: The rebel I want to be

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Dec. 4-11 with the theme of "The Gospel Resounds." The theme undergirds the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The offering, in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches, supports international workers in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at IMB.org, where there are resources ...

Imprisonment under Castro recalled by missionary

 
As the world reflects on the legacy of late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a former Southern Baptist missionary imprisoned by the Castro regime in the 1960s is remembering what Castro could not do: kill the church. David Fite, 82, was arrested in Havana in 1965 on what he calls fabricated charges of "trafficking in foreign currency" and "ideological diversionism." Then a Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) missionary and the father of three young boys, including a one-month-old, Fite ...

7 ways your church can start a compassion ministry

 
When a church initiates a compassion ministry, a door can be opened in a community where people witness Jesus' character through actions and hear about His gift of salvation, some for the first time, say Southern Baptist ministry leaders. The North American Mission Board's Send Relief compassion ministry strategy encourages churches to expand their community engagement while delivering the Gospel. "As Southern Baptists we are good at making the call to missions around the world and across our continent, but ...

International Mission Board taps 5 megacities for global initiative pilot

 
"There's no lack of church buildings in London, but the average congregation is fewer than 20 people," missionary James Roberts noted. Roberts is part of an International Mission Board team in London strategizing a comprehensive missions approach to reach this city of 8.6 million. More than 50 non-indigenous communities, each with 10,000 people or more, have been identified in London, making it truly a global city. More than 300 languages are spoken in London, and 37 percent of the city's population was born outside the United ...

Hialeah couple among 50 new missionaries appointed by IMB

 
Bob and Melanee Gallina invested 18 years in leading The Church at Green Hills in La Habra, Calif. They lived in a comfortable house that was a home base for their children, who are missionaries overseas. After retirement, the couple noted, they planned to serve overseas themselves. But then they felt God prompting them to consider, "Why wait until you retire? Why not now?" Now the church they once led is sending them through the International Mission Board to take the ...

IMB trustees celebrate balanced budget, appoint 50 missionaries

 
International Mission Board trustees celebrated a balanced budget, unanimously approving the 2017 budget during their Nov. 10-11 meeting near Richmond, Va. Trustees also appointed 50 missionaries during a sending celebration. "I am pleased to share with you that because of generous giving from Southern Baptist churches to the IMB, disciples have been made and churches have been multiplied over the last year among the nations in truly breathtaking ways," IMB President David Platt told trustees. "Furthermore, we are pleased to be able ...

David Platt: 16 ways to pray for missionaries

 
Acts 13 and 14 communicate one of the most pivotal stories in all of missions history. They relay the first recorded sending of missionaries by a local church in Scripture. Paul and Barnabas were commissioned for their particular task in a worship service, complete with singing, prayer, fasting and the laying on of hands. Pastor John Piper claimed of this passage, “This moment of prayer and fasting resulted in a missions movement that would make Christianity the dominant religion ...

California church's 'micro mission trips' nurture its reach

 
The Church on Cyprus called them "micro mission trips," short-term initiatives that were affordable and close to home to increase missions participation. There are "all kinds of reasons" why some people shy away from mission trips, said Peggy Tumlinson, a missions committee member at the church, named for its location on Cypress Avenue in Carmichael, Calif. "[S]ome find it frightening; some find it hard because of finances; some just are not sure what to expect," Tumlinson said, so the ...

2016 Annie Armstrong giving 2nd highest ever at nearly $59 million

 
The nearly $59 million given to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering in 2016 ranks second highest in the offering's history, the North American Mission Board has announced. Southern Baptists gave $58,860,553 in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 to the offering named for noted missionary Annie Armstrong, second only to the $59,463,281 given in 2007, NAMB said. "This is extraordinary in a year when so many of our churches gave above and beyond in response to the special call from our International Mission Board," NAMB President ...

IMB’s Gordon Fort to speak at BCF's annual missions conference

 
Gordon Fort, senior ambassador to the president of the International Mission Board, will be the featured guest speaker at The Baptist College of Florida’s annual missions conference in Graceville on Oct. 10-12. Every year, Missions Conference Coordinator and Chair of the Theology Division Richard Elligson invites a passionate mission speaker for the conference and arranges for worldwide mission organizations to share their stories and opportunities with the BCF family and conference attendees. Fort and his wife, Leigh Ann, ...

David Platt during SBTS chapel: ‘Take risks’ to spread the Gospel

 
The reality of death for all people should compel more Christians to take risks in spreading the good news of Christ’s resurrection among unreached people groups, said David Platt, president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, during a Sept. 29 chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “We know that risk-taking, death-defying missions in difficult, dangerous to reach places is to be envied in this world,” Platt said. “When you know that ...

9/11 called catalyst for missions to Muslims

 
When radical Islamic terrorists brought down the World Trade Center's Twin Towers 15 years ago, they didn't realize their actions would also help bring down walls to reaching Muslims with the Gospel. But that's exactly what happened. In the years since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of Unengaged, Muslim Unreached People Groups (UMUPGs) in the world has decreased by nearly 20 percent, from 1,333 in 2001 to 1,077 today, according to statistics provided by Vision 5:9, a coalition of Christian missions organizations focused on reaching Muslims. That translates ...

Russian anti-evangelism law ends missionaries' ministry

 
Missionaries Donald and Ruth Ossewaarde always suspected their Gospel ministry in Oryol, Russia, wouldn't last when they began in 2002, he told Baptist Press by telephone from his home in the central Russian town of 320,000. But he had not expected to be among the first people arrested under Russia's new law prohibiting organizations from evangelizing outside church walls and without a government permit. Two weeks after police interrupted Ossewaarde's Sunday morning Bible study in his home with 15 students, arrested him and ...

IMB trustees affirm new mobilization VP

 
International Mission Board trustees approved the appointment of 27 new missionaries, welcomed 11 new board members (two from Florida), and announced a vice president of mobilization during their board meeting Aug. 23-24 near Richmond, Va. Trustees also welcomed a visit from Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who serves as an ex-officio member of the board in his SBC role. Gaines is pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. 'Multitudes more' IMB President David Platt addressed trustees during ...

Orphan's Heart, Florida Baptists making huge impact in the Dominican Republic

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: We have decided to pull this piece of premium content from behind our paywall so that even more people can see the impact that Orphan’s Heart and Florida Baptists are having in the Dominican Republic. Subscribers to the Florida Baptist Witness print edition got access to this story—both digitally and in print—on Aug. 11. Go here if you would like to subscribe: http://bit.ly/1YmaPNv There is a valley in the southwestern ...

A divine appointment at an Orlando fast-food restaurant

 
Throughout our daily plans and schedules, God is present—anointing conversations and authoring divine appointments with perfect precision. It’s easy to become distracted from God’s presence by our own thoughts and to-do lists; however, when we ask God to provide opportunities to trust Him, He does. And He did for me.  The day after our ministry in Orlando, Fla., ended, a few team members and I decided to go out to eat. We originally ...

Highway crash kills young missionary family of 5

 
A young missionary family of five from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis is being mourned after a highway crash in western Nebraska took their lives July 31. Jamison and Kathryne Pals, both 29, and their three children, Ezra, Violet and Calvin, ages 4 years to 2 months, died when their minivan was rear-ended by a semitrailer truck in a construction zone on Interstate 80. The Pals were headed to Littleton, Colo., for a final session of training before leaving in late October to serve as ...

Woman's Missionary Union elects new executive director/treasurer

 
Sandra Wisdom-Martin was unanimously elected executive director/treasurer of national Woman's Missionary Union by its executive board during a special called meeting July 29-30 in Birmingham, Ala. Wisdom-Martin, who has served as executive director of WMU of Texas, succeeds Wanda Lee. Lee has served as executive director of the 128-year-old missions organization for the past 16 years. Wisdom-Martin will begin her new role on Oct. 15. She was presented to the board by a search committee appointed in February following Lee's announcement ...

Florida churches use food pantries to ease hunger, share Gospel

 
In Florida, one in six people struggles with at least one of the following: having access to enough healthy food for every family member, having limited or uncertain availability to nutritionally adequate foods, or needing to make trade-offs between basic needs -- like housing or health care -- and food purchases. That statistic, by Feeding America, a network of food banks and food pantries across the nation, may be surprising to some, given that hunger is not a topic often ...

FBC Orlando marks 15 years of service at Baptist College of Florida

 
Sacrificing their vacation time and resources to serve on The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) campus, the 80-member-strong volunteer mission team from the First Baptist Church in Orlando has made the trip to Graceville every summer for the past 15 years. Committed, motivated, full of energy and absolutely delightful, these servant volunteers pressure wash, remodel buildings, paint, remove carpet, lay tile and trim shrubs in preparing the campus for the next semester with the theme, “Whatever you do, work heartily, ...

'Insanity of God' shows faith amid despair

 
Nik Ripken almost abandoned hope when he first arrived in Somalia 25 years ago. Ripken, then a young International Mission Board (IMB) missionary, had caught a ride with the Red Cross in a small plane carrying relief supplies across the border between Kenya and its war-ravaged neighbor. What he saw shook him to the core. He met parents who asked for burial cloths for the children they'd lost rather than food and water for themselves and saw soldiers passing out narcotics ...

Baptist College of Florida mission team serves in Cuba

 
The winds of change are indeed blowing in Cuba, but it’s more like a gentle stirring than a wind. There are more tour buses carrying more tourists to Havana, the capital city of the island nation once dubbed the “crown jewel of the Caribbean.” But the pace of life in the interior is still slow, and the spiritual climate is cautious. Those were the general impressions of the 12-member mission team from The Baptist College of ...

Team to help overseas mission groups handle crises

 
How would you respond if a mission team member serving on an international trip you are leading suddenly went missing, was robbed or even died while serving overseas? A team of Florida Baptists is hoping to prepare you to face such a crisis. The crisis action team was created to lead “Safe and Secure Mission Trips” conferences across the state. The team of trainers is composed of Florida Baptists who have served in law enforcement, police chaplaincy and ...

Lottie Moon offering reaches record $165.8 million

 
Southern Baptists provided resounding support through the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Finalized in early June, the 2015 Lottie Moon offering totaled $165.8 million -- the highest total in the 127-year history of the offering. The offering surpassed the previous all-time record of $154 million in 2013 by $11.8 million. The 2014 Lottie Moon offering totaled just more than $153 million. "Southern Baptists have exhibited their commitment to God's mission through these gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering," said IMB President David Platt. "Especially ...

Missionary slain in Jamaica was Iowa So. Baptist

 
An Iowa Southern Baptist was among two American missionaries killed in Jamaica April 30 in what appeared to be a violent attack. Randy Hentzel, 48, a member of First Family Church in Ankeny, Iowa, was serving with the Pennsylvania-based Teams for Medical Missions when he was slain in a remote, rural area of Jamaica along with fellow missionary Harold Nichols, 53. The two men went for a motorcycle ride at approximately 8 a.m., and Hentzel's body was found hours later beside a motorcycle ...

Medical missions patient safety is nonprofit's aim

 
While medical missions typically brings to mind images of impoverished people receiving medical treatment, a doctor and pharmacist are aiming to take it to the next level by bringing patient safety more clearly into the picture. Francis Nuthalapathy, a maternal-fetal medicine physician who is president of the nonprofit organization Omer Medical Logistics, said the idea originated with Roger Blackwell, a pharmacist and vice president of operations for the ministry. Blackwell met someone who wanted to donate medications left over from ...

SBC president builds ties in Ethiopia

 
When Ethiopian Airlines transports newly purchased Boeing 777s home from the United States, the planes are customarily loaded with humanitarian supplies for the independent country that still struggles with poverty despite significant economic advances. The country's economy was among concerns highlighted when Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd met with key leaders of the country, including Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome and Speaker of the House Abadulla Gemeda. "They talked about ... in their country, about poverty that's existent. They talked about ...

Church makes its home among the homeless

 
Jeff Foshee was at the end of his rope. Haunted by depression, fear and his own misfortunes, he felt he could not hold on any longer. Thanks to a friend's guidance, Foshee's next step landed him at the Houston-area Under Over Fellowship in Conroe, Texas. "When I first came to a Sunday service with Under Over, something clicked. It just felt like home," Foshee says. "I have been here ever since." Jerry Vineyard, meanwhile, also found himself at the end ...

Fla. pastor helps commission college's international mission team

 
Praying over Northeastern Baptist College's first international mission team was among the highlights of the trustee meeting at the Vermont campus March 7-8. The commissioning service was held in the college's chapel in Bennington for the six students, two faculty members and a faculty spouse who ministered in the Gospel-bleak city of Glasgow, Scotland, March 13-19. NEBC's mission team worked with local IMB missionaries to share the Gospel and create a network base for a Bible study group and eventual ...

NAMB President Kevin Ezell: Don't wait to say 'Send me'

 
Not long ago I had the privilege of visiting with 1,200 college students for the weekly meeting of The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, near the campus of Iowa State University. Cornerstone was birthed from The Salt Company 21 years ago. The goal of The Salt Company was to reach students at Iowa State for Christ and today this ministry keeps that as its primary goal. Two years ago Cornerstone planted Candeo church in Waterloo, Iowa, near ...

David Platt looks forward after IMB 'reset'

 
Following an "organizational reset" that saw more than 1,100 International Mission Board personnel transition away from the board, President David Platt told a March 3 live stream audience he is ready to focus on the future. "I really want to shift the conversation from talking about numbers and finances to talking about how this army of brothers and sisters going out specifically from Southern Baptist churches across North America can make the Gospel known among the nations," Platt told an online audience ...

Missionary couple asks Florida church: ‘How can we help you?’

 
It wasn’t what the members of Church at the Cross in Orlando, Fla., expected to hear during a Sunday morning service. A missionary couple was coming to town to speak to them, so they had expected to see a PowerPoint presentation of photos from distant lands—elephants and mud huts or skyscrapers and crowds of sad, stoic faces. They had readied themselves to experience a tug on their pocketbooks to support international missions. But Texans Jeremiah and ...

David Platt announces March 3 live streamed Q&A about future of IMB

 
International Mission Board President David Platt will host a one-hour live streamed video session on the entity's future at 11 a.m. Eastern Time March 3, answering questions and responding to comments submitted via Twitter under #IMBLive. Platt has expressed a desire to move the conversation beyond discussion of the 983 missionaries and 149 stateside staff members leaving IMB through a Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI) and a Hand Raising Opportunity (HRI) collectively aimed at balancing the entity's budget. Registration is available free online to ...

David Platt 'fairly confident' IMB can handle added VRI, HRO costs

 
The International Mission Board is "fairly confident" it will be able to handle additional costs incurred by a larger than anticipated number of employees leaving the workforce in the entity's "reset" to balance its budget, according to IMB President David Platt. The 2016 budget already had a $23 million deficit, based on an anticipated 600-800 employees taking the Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI) and Hand Raising Opportunity (HRO). But 1,132 missionaries and employees opted to take the incentives, Platt announced Feb. 24. "Our 2016 budget as ...

David Platt to 26 new missionaries: God is worthy of surrender, sacrifice

 
Asked to confront the lostness of the world, 26 new missionaries were approved by International Mission Board trustees Feb. 23 and commissioned later that evening at the International Learning Center outside of Richmond, Va. The event was broadcast via livestream, allowing friends, family members and churches a chance to hear the testimonies of the new group of missionaries. Only darkened silhouettes were shown in order to protect the security of Southern Baptist personnel who will be serving in dangerous destinations. Of the ...

Kentucky pastor's new bride a '12-cow kind of girl'

 
A Kentucky Baptist church got involved in an unusual fundraiser just before its pastor, Daniel Lowry, married his wife. The congregation ended up paying more than $1,500 for him to be able to say "I do" in October. For the previous two years, Lowry's wife—the former Kristen Sayres—had served overseas as co-director for the Naivasha Children's Shelter in Naivasha, Kenya, which rehabilitates homeless boys and tries to reintegrate them into their families. Sayres had spent a total ...

WMU Executive Director Wanda Lee announces retirement

 
Wanda Lee announced a search committee will be appointed to seek her successor as executive director/treasurer of national Woman's Missionary Union at the group's board meeting, Jan. 9-11. During the meeting, WMU also heard mission reports and addressed ways it is assisting International Mission Board personnel who have elected to take a voluntary retirement incentive. The meeting was at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala. In her report, Lee said no date has been set for her departure. ...

Small church in east Texas makes big sacrifice for IMB

 
A small church in east Texas has made a sizeable gift to the International Mission Board, even though doing so meant sacrificing funds that could have been used for a permanent building. Two years ago, Journey Baptist Church sold its building, a facility that was poorly located, with little parking and no room for growth. A purchase of 10 acres as a future building site followed, but constructing a new structure proved cost prohibitive, so church leaders were content to meet ...

Missionary couple from Florida disciples young leaders in Philippines

 
When someone shouted, "Your uncle is coming," everyone in the Philippine village knew the code meant "run and hide." Neighbors disappeared into small concrete homes until International Mission Board missionaries Dave and Ivette Daggett had come and gone. A few, however, including 13-year-old Berlyn Familaran, stuck around to hear what the foreigners had to say. The curious teenager planned only to sit in and listen during the Saturday Bible studies, nothing more. But even that angered her parents and the ...

Seizing the moment: Christian workers find ways to minister to Syrian refugees

 
Christian worker Peter Matheson* is working to bring hope to refugees. But the ongoing crisis has taken a toll on the many he serves—and on him personally—as he ministers in the midst of tremendous suffering. Syrian and Iraqi refugees have become victims of a rebellion being fought against the Syrian regime and brutality caused by the self-proclaimed terrorist group ISIS and other Islamic extremists. "The hardest thing in this ministry is just sitting down and listening ...

IMB notes ways to support returning missionaries

 
With the International Mission Board expecting hundreds of missionaries to leave their positions in the coming months, the board has published a list of ways individuals and churches can support field personnel returning to the United States. According to a Q&A posted on the IMB website and updated Nov. 18, at least 600 field personnel and stateside staff members are expected to resign as a result of a voluntary retirement incentive (VRI) offered to all personnel 50 ...

Persecution fails to thwart Gospel inroads in Central Asia

 
Christian aid worker Gary Warrior* was sitting on the floor in a Central Asian village with a congregation of about 20 people several years ago, getting ready to share about "the cost of discipleship." Someone made the suggestion to go around the room and share their testimonies. One woman simply said, "Oh, I'm just very blessed, and I'm so thankful to be here." Her friend elbowed her: "Explain to him your testimony, tell him what's happening in your life with God." ...

Conference spawns reflections on Jewish evangelism

 
An international conference on Jewish evangelism provided an occasion for Christians to reflect on why they should share the Gospel with ethnic Jews. Convening in Jerusalem, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism's 10th International Conference on Jewish Evangelism included some 200 Jewish evangelists from six continents. Participants strategized about the best methods for communicating the Gospel to Jews. Jim Sibley, a former professor at Criswell College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued in a presentation at the conference that Jewish evangelism ...

Veteran's cross-country bike ride spotlights missions

 
Army veteran Tom Cawood set out on Aug. 24 to ride his bike from San Diego, Calif., to St. Augustine, Fla. And along the way, he and his wife, Pat, helped raise awareness for missions and the North American Mission Board. At 81, when most of his contemporaries are slowing down, Cawood gives the impression of gaining speed. His life motto is, "Life is like water skiing, if you slow down, you go down." Cawood, followed by his wife in a recreational ...

Relative takes long journey to find that Lottie Moon still honored by her church in China

 
China has changed radically since the death of famed missionary Lottie Moon in 1912. Denominations and evangelism are illegal and the government is officially atheistic. But do the Christians in Penglai, the city where Lottie Moon once served, remember her? I learned the answer at the Penglai Christian Church this summer. Amid the singing, dancing and preaching in an auditorium filled with teams of men and women in colored polo and T-shirts along with a choir in white robes and a ...

New generation of students discipled in Nairobi

 
One hundred and twenty baptisms and four church plants in the rural region of West Pokot, Kenya, are being pointed to as evidence of the International Mission Board's effort to raise up young men and women to take the Gospel to the unreached people groups of Africa. Chad Pumpelly leads the student team at the University of Nairobi and is building this mindset into the foundation of the work. "In Kenya, we have 42 different languages; so that means we have 42 ...

World Series cities share need for church plants

 
At first glance the two World Series cities appear as different as they could possibly be. New York City is the city that doesn't sleep, the financial center of the United States and one of the largest cities on the planet. The home of barbecue, jazz and Hallmark, Kansas City, Mo., is best known as the "Heart of America" and the "Paris of the Plains." The two cities are also the largest and the smallest Major League Baseball markets in ...

David Platt addresses IMB reset during live stream event

 
Restoring the International Mission Board to full financial health will be a long process that requires patience among Southern Baptists and the cooperation of local churches through a variety of avenues, IMB President David Platt said Oct. 27 during a live stream question-and-answer session. Addressing a live audience that tuned in using more than 1,500 separate electronic devices, Platt reiterated the IMB's need to reduce by 600-800 its total number of field personnel and staff in light of spending $210 million more than ...

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention's $1M would deploy IMB missionaries to Houston

 
International Mission Board missionaries returning from the mission field as part of a voluntary staff reduction could find immediate opportunities to reach ethnic people groups in one of America's most diverse megacities—Houston. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention's Executive Board will consider a recommendation in its November meeting to set aside $1 million to facilitate returning missionaries as church planters or church revitalizers for the convention's Reach Houston initiative. "Reach Houston is a SBTC plan to increase church planting ...

Volunteers from 15 states, including Florida, responding in South Carolina

 
Hundreds of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have provided significant service in South Carolina to survivors of flooding that covered the state in early October. SBDR leaders said they are encouraged by the outpouring of service and sacrifice. "I am so thankful for the volunteers from many states who are willing to provide the help needed in the recovery process for those affected by the flooding," said Mickey Caison, North American Mission Board interim executive director for Disaster Relief. "The ...

IMB personnel, including Florida family, face difficult decisions

 
Michael and JuliAn Domke are missionaries who wrestle with a painful, unexpected decision. He is the International Mission Board's team leader for church planting in Kiev, Ukraine. They were appointed in 2008 and moved their family from Florida to Eastern Europe, anticipating a long, fruitful ministry there. But their plans may change. Domke is more than 50 years old and has served with the IMB for more than seven years. That puts his family among IMB personnel who received an ...

Alaskan grocer finds divine appointment at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

 
When Mike Cooper learned about the 2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota from his pastor in Alaska he felt compelled to go. The veteran grocer had never been to a motorcycle rally, nor does he have a souped-up Harley-Davidson, but his determination wasn't about the debauchery at the seven-day Sturgis rally. Cooper wanted to volunteer for evangelism at the Dakota Baptist Convention's Sturgis Bike Giveaway hospitality tent at the rally's 75th anniversary. The odds were against Cooper, a member of ...

David Platt to discuss IMB's future during live web event Oct. 27

 
International Mission Board President David Platt invites pastors, church leaders and members to be part of an IMB-hosted livestream event Oct. 27, 3 p.m. EDT, to discuss the organization's present challenges and future vision. The hour-long online video forum will provide a way to dialogue as participants ask Platt questions via Twitter and Facebook. Beginning Tuesday morning, Oct. 27, livestream viewers can submit questions on IMB's Facebook page or through Twitter by using #IMBLiveStream. "We must get to a healthy ...

IMB missionaries, staff thank Southern Baptists for support

 
International Mission Board missionaries and staff are expressing thanks for the way Southern Baptists have stepped up to provide offers of housing, vehicles and job opportunities to missionaries who have accepted IMB's voluntary retirement incentive. "Southern Baptists are not only catching the ball, they are running 99-yard touchdowns," said one missionary serving in Asia. " … I am praying that people will see what Southern Baptists are doing and will see His glory." Offers of practical support have come from a ...

Students answer call to help relief efforts in South Carolina

 
Leading a group of college disaster relief volunteers for three days would be enough for some 23-year-olds to call it a week. Not Andrew Hendricks. After leading a group of Clemson University Baptist Campus Ministry student volunteers through cleanup assignments in suburban Columbia, S.C., Hendricks joined his association's Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team in the Arcadia Lakes area and continued to serve. "We are working on a home today where an older woman lives alone," said Hendricks, a recent ...

South Florida pastor, 11-year-old daughter share Gospel in Cuba

 
One Florida Baptist father is going to great lengths to make sure his children understand the importance of sharing the Gospel. In fact, he and his daughter went all the way to Cuba. Brenda Harden, 11, can now say she got to bring the Good News to a third-world, communist country. It's not a claim many people can make, especially a child. Howard Harden, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Homestead, Fla., and proud father of Brenda, said while it ...

North American Mission Board unveils new logo, messaging

 
The North American Mission Board has introduced a new logo and messaging that reflects its goal to mobilize more churches and individuals to missional action in the effort to push back lostness and plant more churches in North America. "Every Life On Mission" and "Every Church On Mission" are two phrases NAMB will use prominently to encourage individuals and churches to become more actively and personally involved in missional activity. "In its simplest form, NAMB functions as a network that ...

IMB announces voluntary retirement incentive details

 
In the first phase of the International Mission Board's plan to address revenue shortfalls, leadership announced details of a voluntary retirement incentive during town hall meetings with personnel Thursday (Sept. 10). The goal of the plan, IMB leaders shared, is to offer as generous a voluntary retirement incentive as possible, while honoring the years of service of those eligible and providing smooth transitions for personnel from their current roles. IMB will offer the voluntary retirement incentive to all eligible staff and ...

Open letter from IMB’s David Platt

 
Dear SBC Family, By now many of you may have heard that last week, IMB announced a plan to reduce the total number of our personnel (both here and overseas) by 600-800 people over the next six months. Since the moment this announcement was made, we have sought to communicate the details of this decision as clearly as possible to churches, state conventions, and national entities across the SBC (see this article and this FAQ document, in particular). In the ...

David Platt: No Gospel drawdown despite personnel cuts

 
A reduction of 600-800 International Mission Board staff and field personnel should not decrease the board's Gospel impact worldwide, IMB President David Platt told members of the media during an Aug. 27 conference call. "Even if our income from churches were to double over the next year ... we would still have a cap on our ability to send a certain number of full-time, fully supported church planters," Platt said. IMB leaders "want to take that cap off" and "consider all of ...

IMB leaders announce plan to overcome revenue shortfall

 
International Mission Board leaders have outlined a plan to address IMB's revenue shortfalls and complete a reset of the organization in order to move forward into the future with "innovative vision, wise stewardship and high accountability." The plan was presented by senior IMB leadership, including President David Platt, during an Aug. 27 town hall meeting with missionaries and staff, who collectively attended either in person or through digital communication. IMB trustees were informed of the plan during their Aug. 25-26 board ...

David Platt calls world missions a 'multiethnic issue'

 
All ethnicities are called to world missions, International Mission Board President David Platt told more than 600 black Southern Baptists gathered at Ridgecrest, N.C., acknowledging only 25 of the 4,700 IMB missionaries are African-American. "I don't know all the reasons behind that [disparity]" he said during his July 23 sermon at the 2015 Black Church Leadership & Family Conference. "On behalf of the IMB I'm willing to take responsibility for it. And I long for that to change." More than 2 billion people have not ...

Life on mission celebrated at Send Conference

 
A sold-out crowd of more than 13,000 from all 50 states and four Canadian provinces flooded into Nashville's Bridgestone Arena to celebrate the call of Jesus and the response of life on mission at the 2015 Send North America Conference on Monday. North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell and International Mission Board President David Platt welcomed the assembly and challenged attendees to serve wherever God calls them. "This is where I want to call 13,000-plus people in this arena, from the beginning [...

Send Conference attendees share missions mind-set

 
Less than 24 hours before the start of the sold-out 2015 Send North America Conference, Esther Fasolino had one word for why she was attending: "Missions!" "We've come to learn," said Fasolino, a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Toronto. "The breakout topics are fantastic." Fellow Toronto resident Ivonne Anlar said their group of 12 would spread out among the diverse breakout session offerings to maximize their coverage. "We want to share the experience with as many people as we can," Anlar said. ...

More than 13,000 registered for Send Conference

 
The 22 students from The Church at Lifepark had no idea they would be the first of thousands. Student minister Paul Coleman registered his Mount Pleasant, S.C., group for the 2015 Send North America Conference when online reservations opened last year. More than 13,000 people have followed their lead. The conference, to be hosted at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, Aug. 3-4, is sponsored by the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. "This may sound crazy, but I'm bringing 22 high school ...

8 traits of a missions-centered church

 
God chose the church to be His messenger and make a powerful impact on the world. It doesn't matter if it has 10,000 or 20 members; a church is called to reach the nations with the Gospel. The International Mission Board asked pastors, mission and mobilization specialists around the globe to give some insights into what makes missions-centered churches. They boiled it down to eight traits that indicate this type of congregation: 1. Has a NOW mentality. The thought of "being in on ...