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I am so excited about this week! On Wednesday, Temple here in Hattiesburg is hosting a Missionary Commissioning Service for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (IMB). As Southern Baptists, the IMB is our primary missions sending agent to the nations. Through our partnership in giving through the Cooperative Program (CP), we support over 5,000 IMB missionaries who are taking the gospel to the nations.Sometimes it is easy to feel a little removed from the work that is going on by our missionaries in far away places. Sure, we support them the best we can through praying for them on their birthdays or giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering or just by giving weekly since part of our regular giving goes to the IMB through the CP. Our support for all our missionaries is crucial and right. Still, it can be really hard to feel connected to work we have never seen in places we have never been done by people we have never met. Well, you have an opportunity make a personal connection this Wednesday with over 40 missionaries and missionary families at the IMB Commissioning Service at Temple. And, there are some really good reasons that you should:
- These missionaries need our support – This service is a commemoration of the 200th birthday of WIlliam Carey, the father of modern missions. Carey was the first missionary of the Baptist Missionary Society. He responded to the call of the Society to take the gospel to India by saying, “I will go down but remember that you must hold the rope.” We have a chance to get to know these missionaries so that we can communicate with them, encourage them, pray for them, and hold them up. Beginning at 4:45 pm. our regular Wednesday night meal will have a twist. Each table will have a missionary or missionary family there for you to be able to eat with and to get to know. We are planning for an extra large group Wednesday night, so plan to come eat with the missionaries and get to know them over a meal.
- Our kids can meet some REAL heroes – This week we have been reminded of just how difficult it can be to find role models out in the culture for our children by the Penn State situation. More so, even, if there are athletes or other celebrities that we would desire that our kids look up to as examples, how often are these people actually accessible to them? On Wednesday, our kids have the opportunity to meet REAL people who are giving their lives to take the gospel to the ends of the earth! This is missions education at a whole other level. I want my kids to hang out with them. Some of the riches experiences of my life and in the life of my family have come with friends who are missionaries. Spending time with them is good for us. God uses them in our lives to help keep us focused on healthy priorities. God uses them to challenge my kids as to what they will do with their lives just by their example, and I am thankful for their influence.
- It is a way to educate ourselves about SBC mission work – The SBC is a big, diverse group of churches, and we have a pretty complex denominational structure. This can be a great time to catch up on all that God is doing among the nations and how he is doing it through the SBC. It can also be a place for each of us to become better informed of how we can plug in to God’s global agenda for the gospel. There is a place for everyone to participate.
- It will be a unique worship opportunity – This will be a worship service unlike
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almost any other in that the focus will be on God’s gospel mission to the nations. It will also be a time for us to be part of the setting aside and sending of these missionaries for their task. Like the church at Antioch set aside and sent Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13, as Southern Baptists, we are part of the group who are sending these missionaries. God’s Spirit is at work in this process, and God’s presence will be thick during this time of commissioning. You don’t want to miss it!
Please be praying for our missionaries and the rest of the IMB team as the travel to Hattiesburg over the next couple of days for this event. Also, pray for their families and friends who will be traveling to be part of this service. Many of the missionaries will be leaving straight from this service en route to their first field assignments.Do you have a story from a past missionary commissioning that you would like to share? Let us hear it in the comments section.