“Thank you” is something we say to one another frequently, even every day. But recently, someone saying “thank you” reminded me exactly what the International Mission Board—and, really, what the Southern Baptist Convention—is all about.
If you were at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix, you may have been in the main meeting hall following the IMB report when a Christian brother from Central Asia went to the microphone, not with a question, but rather with a message of gratitude.
“I want to say thank you,” he said. “Because you came [to my country], I heard the Gospel, and God saved me and my family, and many others. I want to say thank you to all Southern Baptist churches, because you send your support.”
If you missed that moment, I want you to be sure to hear it now: Your church’s giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® has made an eternal difference to this brother in Christ. It’s making a difference to his family. It’s making a difference to many others who now know and worship our King.
This brother expressed what we know: that only God can change a Muslim’s heart to become a Christian leader. God used you and your church’s gifts to bring about that change. Your commitment to lead your church on mission makes an eternal difference.
Isn’t that an incredible thought? Our God allows each of us to play a part in the completion of His Great Commission. It’s at the heart of why the SBC created the IMB more than 170 years ago—to partner with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.
Global Mission Force
As I told our brother (and the rest of our fellow Southern Baptists in attendance at that moment in Phoenix), it’s an awesome thing to see the mission field become a mission force. As we reach unreached people around the world, our goal in all of our work is not just to lead people to Christ, see them baptized, gather them in churches, and then move on. Our goal is to help those new Christians and churches take the Gospel to the next unreached people, then to the next unreached people. And by God’s grace, we are seeing this happen all over the world.
We’re seeing this happen through this brother from Central Asia who now works at a Southern Baptist seminary to train leaders from his homeland. We’re seeing this happen through connections made on the mission field by the missionaries from your church, your association, and your state convention. Truly one of the most exciting things that I get to watch in the IMB is our Southern Baptist personnel around the world not only leading people to Christ and planting churches, but also helping those churches from the nations reach the nations, and finding ourselves as part of this global family accomplishing this Great Commission.
Your church’s giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is the financial fuel that keeps our Southern Baptist missionaries going and witnessing and serving day after day after day alongside new brothers and sisters in Christ.
May I boldly ask you to share this good news of thanksgiving with your church? Will you please pass along not only my thanks, but the heartfelt thank you from this brother who found eternal life to the people who have so faithfully given to support this God-given mission? I want every Southern Baptist who has given to the Cooperative Program or to international missions to know their support is making a difference.
Global Mission Focus
Our brother concluded his comments at the microphone in Phoenix by saying: “We need your prayer. Please pray for us. As a member of your family—we are a family from different nationalities—we want to reach the world. . . . We want to say thank you. God bless you.”
As you enter what we in the IMB refer to as “Lottie Moon season,” I’m aware that your church calendar, like mine, is filling up with fall festivals, Thanksgiving outreach, and Christmas celebrations. I pray as you engage in each of these opportunities for fellowship, worship, and celebration that your church family will find ways to connect with the nations God is bringing to your very doorsteps.
At the same time, I urge you to set aside time to lead your church in hearing our brother’s pleas and committing to a concerted time of prayer for the global Church’s mission. We have the opportunity to go before the throne of Almighty God on behalf of this brother, and it is our honor that he has implored us to lift up his people’s efforts to share the Gospel. Will you respond to his request for intercession?
December 3–10 is observed as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Week of Prayer for International Missions. You and your church can join the prayerful voices of thousands of fellow Southern Baptists in interceding for your field personnel and the national believers with whom they work. They desperately want—and need—your prayers. During that week, IMB personnel know they can rely on the fact that their Baptist partners in the United States and around the world will be praying for them. Please don’t miss the opportunity to join in a chorus of adoration, thanksgiving, and intercession to our Lord on these missionaries’ behalf.
Global Mission Family
Who are the people we will focus on during this year’s Week of Prayer?
They are the Bagby family, who share the Gospel among South Asian peoples. For Radford and Sarah Bagby*, getting to the twenty-eight people groups in the mountains of Nepal takes a journey of weeks by car, plane, and trekking on foot—and that’s if everything goes just right. And the mission field is as difficult as the roadways. But the Bagbys see God moving in the heart of Nepalese people.
They are people like Elizabeth*, who lives and works in Moscow, Russia. When most people think of Russia, they don’t think of Muslims. But Islam is part of the fabric of old Russia—it made it there sixty-six years before Christianity did. And Moscow now has more Muslims than any other European city. Christians who live among these Central Asian peoples pray for opportunities to develop friendships so they can share the Gospel with them.
They are Jared and Tara Jones in Japan, where forty thousand children live in orphanages, but parents rarely give up their rights so that a child can be adopted. But the Joneses knew God had placed a baby on their hearts, and they prayed. Fast-forward a few months from when their son Ezra was placed in their arms, and his pediatrician was the key to another door—a church plant they had been praying about for years among these East Asian peoples.
They are the Mexico City Team, a team of twelve people who face the daunting task of reaching a city of twenty-eight million people with the Gospel. IMB missionaries in this megacity hail from places ranging from Colombia to Cuba and from Korea to Tennessee. They’re finding unreached people in this megacity, and they’re seeing new believers catch a vision for reaching the nations, too.
They are the people ministering to the forgotten refugees—like Don Alan*, who seeks to reach refugees in North Africa and the Middle East, and Seth Payton*, who works with refugees in Europe. “Hopelessness is a universal feeling among refugees,” Don says. “They feel forgotten.” These Southern Baptists need your prayers as they take hope into what seem like hopeless places.
They are Shane and Lindsay Mikeska, whose Christmas dinner in London may include an Iranian student and Indian student baking Christmas cookies with a girl from Lebanon and another from Hong Kong, before they all sit down to a Mexican meal. London has forty-eight universities, and a quarter of the student population comes from other countries. Across the city, three hundred languages are spoken. The Mikeskas see an amazing capacity to be senders to the world—to see their mission field become a mission force. But they need your church’s prayers and your church’s giving to make that possible.
Your Mission Field
It’s a heavy responsibility to know that thousands of Southern Baptists around the world are depending on our support, and I hope we never take that responsibility lightly. God has richly blessed us as a coalition of churches with the capacity to not only support our current missionary force, but also to find and seize new pathways to send limitless more to share the Gospel. That includes God’s role for your church in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
I pray you will embrace that role completely, knowing that you have the heartfelt gratitude of brothers and sisters in Christ, and knowing that your church is making an eternal difference.
Learn more about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® and the Week of Prayer for International Missions at IMB.org/LMCO.
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is a registered trademark of Woman’s Missionary Union.
David Platt is president of the International Mission Board and is teaching pastor at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia.