LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Nate Bishop is humbled and excited about his new role with the International Mission Board.
Bishop, the pastor of Forest Baptist Church in Louisville, was elected as second vice chair on the IMB’s executive committee. He has been a trustee the past two years, filling out the term of a Kentucky representative, and is now in the first year of his term.
“It’s an incredible privilege to represent the great state of Kentucky, period, but for your fellow trustees to nominate and elect you to serve on the executive committee … I’m grateful to the Lord,” he said.
He has already been rolling up his sleeves in working with the IMB, serving on a Sub-Saharan affinity group whose aim is to reach 55 unreached people groups in five years.
Bishop said he is particularly focused on opening opportunities and engagement for African American churches to raise up a new generation of African American missionaries.
“We haven’t done a good job at initially engaging as churches, assuming if we build it, they will come,” he said. “As churches we want to be faithful to the Great Commission as well.
“We want to continue to care for our missionaries, as they are on the frontlines, and encourage churches who have never participated before (to become involved). I believe the IMB is the glue that connects Southern Baptists.”
Bishop’s new position on the executive committee drew applause from Kentucky Baptist leaders and from Dr. Paul Chitwood, the president of the IMB and former executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Being a Kentuckian himself, Dr. Chitwood said he welcomed another one to serve with him on the executive board.
“Nate Bishop is a wonderful trustee and will be a blessing to the IMB as he gives leadership to the board,” Dr. Chitwood said. “And it’s always great to have a friend and fellow Kentucky Baptist at my side.”
Dr. Todd Gray, current executive director-treasurer of the KBC, sent accolades Bishop's way as well.
"I am so pleased to hear Pastor Nate has been chosen to serve the IMB in this way," Gray said. "Pastor Nate cares deeply about missions and our international missionaries. His input will serve Kentucky Baptists and the IMB well."
Wes Fowler, president of the KBC, called Bishop a "wonderful choice" for the 2nd vice chair position on the executive board.
"He is a personal friend a faithful pastor, a source of wisdom and encouragement, and he is deeply concerned with reaching the nations with the gospel," Fowler said. "We are blessed to have him in the commonwealth, and we've been blessed to have him as part of our IMB leadership team as well."
During this week’s meeting in Richmond, Virginia, the IMB’s Annual State Report (ASR) showed the work across the globe in 2020 compared to 2019 statistics. It revealed surprising growth and was also a successful year toward reaching the lost. Significant increases were reported in numbers of those who heard a gospel witness, new believers and new fellowships. Almost 55,000 more new believers were reported last year compared to the year before.
“To sit in committee meetings this week to see that they’re already checking off people groups is nothing but God’s kindness, reminding us that He’s the one who does the work,” Bishop said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a war or a pandemic, the gospel is still getting out.
“The good news is, the pipeline under Paul’s leadership has incredibly increased. Getting people to the field and then them having to come stateside because of restrictions and lockdowns have been difficult,” he said. “A lot of those statewide missionaries have been able to stay in contact with other teams on the ground there. The engagement of churches all across the country utilizing statewide missionaries to that effort has been helpful.”
Bishop said another focus is not only to reach unreached people groups but to intentionally focus on raising up the African church to be missionaries because “they can go to places we just can’t go,” he said. “The African churches are providentially positioned because they already speak multiple languages and they would be received well, if not better, because they’re already in the country. As churches are planted, local leaders are raised up and those churches can reproduce themselves throughout the country in other places in Africa.”