Our IMB Appointment Service in Lexington, KY

IMB Appointment Service
Nov. 11, 2003
Rupp Arena
Lexington, Kentucky

(see articles and photos from the Baptist Press – #1 | #2 )

New Missionaries Ready To Begin Sharing Gospel

appointmentservice.jpgLEXINGTON- Sixty-nine new Baptist missionaries are ready to begin sharing the Gospel of Christ around the world following a special appointment service here Tuesday night.Meeting at the Lexington Center’s Rupp Arena, some 3,500 Kentucky Baptists gathered for the appointment service for the International Mission Board, the international missions organization of the Southern Baptist Convention.The service was scheduled to coincide with the 166th annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which met Nov. 11-12 at Immanuel Baptist Church here. The crowd was welcomed by Tubby Smith, University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach, and challenged by Dr. Jerry Rankin, IMB president. imbappointment.jpg“It feels a little strange to be standing here rather than on that sideline,” said Smith as he welcomed the crowd to his home court.

Smith encouraged the new missionaries to stay focused on their mission, and on the blessings they will receive by doing good for others.

Smith shared a poem often quoted by legendary UCLA coach John Wooden: “For you can not do a kindness without a reward, not in silver or gold but with joy for the Lord.”

“No one cares what you know until they know how much you care,” said Smith. “That’s what we always tell our players.”

Taking his cue from the coach’s welcome and the unusual setting, IMB President Jerry Rankin called the new missionaries “champions.”

“I look at these championship banners and how the crowds have gathered here to cheer for champions. But the men and women here are champions of Southern Baptists,” said Rankin. “They are the ones who have… the dedication and purpose to carry the gospel to the world.”

But Rankin emphasized that the new missionaries are not “Super Christians,” but are instead ordinary believers obedient to the God’s call, much like the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

Referring to Isaiah 6, Rankin described Isaiah’s call to serve God. Isaiah had a vision of God, seated on His throne in the temple. Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord, saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

Isaiah responded, saying that he would go deliver God’s message to His people.

“It wasn’t a personal call. God didn’t single out Isaiah,” Rankin emphasized. “It was a generic call. But he heard it as a call to his heart and his life, and he responded.”

Too many are waiting for a “mystical missionary call,” said Rankin, and are waiting for their own personal “burning bush” before they answer God’s call. He said too many are unwilling to let go of their own pride, comfort and personal preferences to lay down their lives and fulfill the Great Commission.

Some of the newly appointed missionaries will leave high-paying jobs and comfortable lives to answer God’s call, said Rankin, and more need to follow their example.

Rankin invited those in the crowd willing to answer the call to missions service to come forward to the platform. Approximately two dozen people — ranging in age from young adults to senior citizens — responded to Rankin’s invitation to come forward.

Record numbers of Southern Baptists are responding to the call, according to Avery Willis, senior vice president of overseas operations for the International Mission Board. So many are responding, in fact, that the IMB lacks the funds to send all of them.

“Unfortunately our recruiting class this year has come up short 100 scholarships,” Willis said, referring to those seeking appointment who had to be deferred until more funds become available. “We’re going to have to say no to 500 more next year that are ready to be missionaries. It’s not because you’re giving less, it’s that there are six times more people ready to go than you are ready to send.”

But if Southern Baptists will remain faithful to giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, said Willis, the International Mission Board will send out more missionaries.

“We’ll send every missionary you’ll pay for,” he said.

Release prepared by Brenda Smith, KBC news/web specialist

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