By Mark Kelly
AUGUSTA, Ga. (BP)--God is calling people with many different skills to
missionary service overseas, but the only ability that matters is God's
power to reveal Jesus to a lost and dying world, Southern Baptists' newest
missionaries were told Jan. 23 in Augusta, Ga.
More than 1,500 people filled the sanctuary of Warren Baptist Church in
Augusta to celebrate the appointment of 50 new overseas workers by the
International Mission Board. The service was held in conjunction with a
three-day meeting of IMB trustees at the city's Radisson Riverfront Hotel.
Pastors and doctors joined accountants and industrial plant managers in
sharing how God had called them to take the good news of his love to
people who needed to hear. Young people fresh out of seminary stood side
by side with experienced professionals and grandparents.
Escorted by members of Warren Baptist Church's Royal Ambassadors and
Girls in Action children's missions organizations, the new missionaries
streamed into the sanctuary to the strains of "All Hail the Power of
It was a fitting start for the evening.
Recalling his own appointment as a missionary to Indonesia 30-plus
years ago, IMB President Jerry Rankin told the new workers the hard
realities of missionary service would quickly prove that education,
training and experience do not give any missionary the ability to persuade
people of the truth of Christ.
"The only real equipping that matters is carrying in your hand and
heart the gospel of Jesus Christ," Rankin said. "That is the
power of God unto salvation. That is the power that will draw people to
New missionaries quickly encounter "situations of fear and
trembling," in which they are overwhelmed with the difficulties of
building relationships and sharing Christ in an unfamiliar language and
culture, Rankin said.
"But the whole point is that whatever drives you to dependence on
Jesus Christ and allows his power to be manifested in you will be the
thing that demonstrates the truth and reality of the gospel and draws
people to Jesus."
One of the new workers told the congregation he already had learned how
frustrating it is to be unable to tell others about Jesus because of a
While on a tour of a mountain range in an Asian country, he felt God
leading him to share Christ with the other people on the bus, he
recounted. The problem was that they were all Asians and he didn't speak
"I asked our tour guide if she would read a gospel tract to the
people on the bus," he said. "She agreed and read the entire
booklet over the intercom system, including the prayer.
"God showed me he could use even a lost person to get his message
Ron and Gail Davis of Etowah, N.C., who will serve in southern Africa,
were among four of the new workers who traced their missionary calling
back to their participation in missions organizations like Royal
Ambassadors and Girls in Action.
"God first gave me a heart for missions as a GA," Gail Davis
said. "My love grew when, as a young mother, I served as a Mission
Friends and GA leader. As Baptist Women program coordinator, that love and
understanding blossomed. Now I'm going to southern Africa to share the
love that God has been growing in me."
Contemporary Christian musician Al Denson sang his moving hit song,
"Will You Be The One?" as the new missionaries received their
certificates of appointment from Rankin.
Leading in the benediction for the appointment service was Wanda Lee,
executive director of Woman's Missionary Union, the organization that
promotes missions groups like RAs and GAs in local churches.
Lee promised the new missionaries that WMU would stand behind them as
they take the good news of salvation in Jesus to the far corners of the
"On behalf of national WMU and our partners through state WMUs, we
pledge to be the rope holders for these missionaries," she said,
"and to continue to challenge the churches to give and pray for them
in the days ahead."