IMB panel emphasizes Southern Baptists’ involvement in past, present and future of missions

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NASHVILLE (BP) – Directly following the IMB report on Tuesday, June 15, at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, IMB President Paul Chitwood hosted a panel discussion featuring global highlights of God’s work through IMB around the world.

The panel included John Brady, vice president for global engagement, Victor Hou, associate vice president for global advance, and Charlie Worthy, European student mobilizer. The IMB leaders spoke to Southern Baptists’ long-term commitment to reach the world’s lost with the Gospel and thanked churches for their continued prayers, financial gifts and service.

John Brady told the crowd of messengers and guests of someone who came to Christ from a people group in Northern Africa. This believer was the first one in the group’s history. God has used Southern Baptists from the beginning, Brady said, recounting the story of how this woman came to faith.

Twenty years ago, a missionary from Texas who worked in the region asked churches to pray that workers would be sent to this people group. At one of the churches that began to pray were two children who were discipled in their faith and their understanding of God’s heart to reach the nations. The children grew up, went to college, served on short-term mission teams, married, and followed God in obedience to serve in Northern Africa. They learned to teach more than 35 Scripture passages in this people group’s language. In 2020, one woman committed her life to Christ. She is the first believer from this people groups and is being discipled to teach others.

“Because of Southern Baptists’ commitment, this people group will now be represented around the throne!” Brady said.

Brady also told the story of another couple who met at seminary after one served as a journeyman, married and answered God’s call to South Asia. Few people came to faith in the early years of their ministry, but they remained steadfast. Through leadership training and broad seed-sowing efforts, they have seen thousands come to Christ in the past year. Through their financial support, Southern Baptists provided audio devices with Gospel recordings that are being distributed so more can hear the Gospel and be trained to share the Good News. Compassion ministry efforts through Southern Baptists’ Send Relief have also been important in this “new movement of God.”

In Brady’s final story, he reflected on the December 2002 murder of IMB medical workers Bill Koehn, Martha Myers and Kathy Gariety at Yemen’s Jibla Baptist Hospital. Through the years, people have watched Southern Baptists live in Christ and die in Christ, Brady said. Today, the church is growing, and people are responding to the gift of salvation.

“God is on the move and God is working!” Brady exclaimed as the crowd applauded. “I thank you, Southern Baptists. We want to be on the move together!”

Victor Hou reported about recent needs in Ukraine and how Southern Baptists responded. An IMB team saw a great need for medical care among Ukraine’s internally displaced refugees. They worked with a local church to set up mobile clinics, but the need for medical professionals was great. When a request for healthcare volunteers was spread to U.S. churches, Southern Baptists responded and flew to Ukraine to staff the clinics. They were able to meet medical needs and share the Gospel with hundreds of refugees.

Hou further explained one of IMB’s targets by the year 2025 – to engage 75 global cities with comprehensive strategies to ensure every segment and people group have access to the Gospel. As an example of the need to understand how people intersect in large cities, Hou reported that in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is a city of more than 12 million people, 2 million refugees currently live in the city’s abandoned buildings. Hou said he is joining the local team and partners by praying for 200,000 new believers among these refugees.

“Will you pray with me?” he asked the crowd.

Charlie Worthy, who serves with the IMB in Italy, encouraged the event’s participants with news that students are on mission and anxious to go to the nations. In addition to journeymen, who make a two-year commitment to serve, Worthy reported that more than 400 students would be going across the globe this year, as borders reopen.

He also shared the news that the IMB would once again be sending high school students on mission trips to the nations. Noting that many missionaries first felt God’s call to missions during an overseas experience as teenagers, Worthy said that involving this age group would be a strong priority for IMB’s student work.

Chitwood closed the panel discussion by adding his thanks to Southern Baptists for their continued commitment to the Great Commission and encouraging every believer to find their place in God’s call to reach the nations.

Join the Seven Nine Community to be a part of spreading the gospel 365 days a year. Ready to go or explore options for serving overseas? Visit imb.org/go for more information or email info@imb.org to get started.

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