Friday, February 29, 2008

Global outreach celebration

On Wednesday night, I and three other members from our church had the privilege of going down to Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland for their annual Global Outreach (GO) Celebration. As Southern Baptists, it can be difficult to break through the barrier of security and the sheer volume of missionaries (over ten thousand) to actually feel personally connected with what God is doing around the world. But Immanuel Baptist does a fantastic job through their GO Celebration of bringing global and North American missions down to a local church level. Last year, through this event, we met the Phams, who are currently studying in Costa Rica and have become ministry partners and life-long friends.

During Wednesday's service, more than 50 missionaries from around the world introduced themselves on stage. We had a time of praise and worship, prayer, missions reports, and a sermon. The special speaker was Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida. He brought a passionate charge on the world's need for the gospel, and the importance of following God's call upon our lives. Perhaps the most touching moment for me was his opening slide show. It flashed up on the screen five different faces per second. Then the narrator said that at this mind-spinning rate, it would take 35 years to see every face in the world! What an urgency and overwhelming task we have to reach all the lost souls of this earth with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So many are dying every day without any knowledge of Him. Oh, that the Lord would call up more laborers into the harvest!

After the service, there was a reception in the fellowship hall, and all the missionaries had display booths for their respective ministries. I had the privilege of seeing a number of familiar faces. It was great to see Jerry Barnwell again, a young man I met a year ago at a Strategic Partner Consultation. Jerry is media team leader for the Central & Eastern Europe region. It was also a blessing to see Chris C. again, who is finishing up stateside assignment before returning to the Pacific Rim. I was honored to make some new friends as well, like Kerry & Mauri Johnson, who are missionaries in Mexico; and Tim Wicker, who serves in Russia and was featured in the 2007 video on the Udmurt people.

Wednesday was a wonderful night. I only wish more of our folks - and folks from other churches - could have attended. Immanuel Baptist does us a great service by putting on this program. I hope to be able to attend each year.

You may notice I've added a sidebar with up-to-date news stories from the International Missions Board. I hope this will be one more way of staying informed of how God is at work globally, and how we can pray specifically for our missionaries and lost people groups around the world.

2 comments:

Patrick said...

Stephen,
I know what you mean about trying to connect personally with national and international workers. It is easy to disconnect if you only participate through the Cooperative Program. You might take a look at the ACTS 1:8 Challenge that has been developed by the IMB. It's goal is for local churches to adopted/partner with one or two workers and their respective people groups. In this way, you can see your CP dollars at work and have names and faces to be praying for.

Stephen Jones said...

Great suggestions. Thanks, Patrick!