As the Week of Prayer for International Missions begins, I can’t help but think back to my youth when my mother and the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) ladies at our church would promote the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Usually a real live foreign missionary would speak at our church during this time.
Many may not know that the International Mission Board (IMB) has fully financed requests for missionaries going unfilled. Volunteers may believe financial support is not available since the IMB recently asked more than 1,000 active missionaries to retire early. Another reason might be because our young people are not hearing the personal testimonies of missionaries who can share their stories and the need for others to be open to God’s call.
I believe it is possible today for a young person to grow up in a Southern Baptist church without ever hearing a missionary give their testimony. As a young person, missionaries often visited my church. I attended RA camp each summer where missionaries would tell of their work. Later I attended Siloam Springs each summer where a missionary would speak in the morning sessions. Names such as Trueman Moore, Glendon Grober and Josephine Scaggs come to mind. These missionaries were instrumental in my call to missions. Later, as an IMB missionary, I had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of young people at Siloam. Thirty years ago, if I was in the states, there was seldom a week in the fall that I was not asked to speak at a church, WMU group or associational meeting. That may not be true today.
We must do a better job of mission’s education and promotion. In addition to utilizing the missionaries and resources at the IMB and WMU, the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine provides regular testimonies and reports from the IMB. Every Arkansas Baptist should be taking advantage of this resource.
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