What does the International Mission Board really do?
How can I partner with the IMB to reach the nations?
How can people in my church go on short-term mission trips that will lead to long-term partnership?
How does all this really impact global lostness?
Over 125 participants attended the Together for the Nations event at Hyland Heights Baptist Church near Lynchburg, Virginia, on March 25. These questions and others were answered during the event, featuring main sessions and breakouts.
This event is one of a series of one-day explorations into international missions. Through these limited-capacity events, missions leaders in churches interacted with IMB missionaries and staff and learned how, together, Christ-followers can address lostness — the world’s greatest problem.
Finding your role in missions
“The most important thing for our participants is that they can see themselves in the work and make connections, both with other leaders and our IMB missionaries and hear in that context how they can get involved,” Chris Derry, the IMB’s director of church and campus engagement, said. He said he was excited about the atmosphere of the event, and how each participant he spoke with was eager to learn more about the IMB and how they or their church could partner in the mission.
Josh Carter, pastor of Hyland Baptist, the host church, welcomed participants to the event.
“We’re here in the room because we all know that we’re supposed to have a role in missions,” he said. Encouraging attendees to listen to engage in all that the day provided, Carter paraphrased Proverbs 15:22, which says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
“We know that what God has called us to do is to listen to the wisdom that’s in the room today. I’m truly humbled and grateful that we get to do that at Hyland Heights.”
Donnie Owen, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church, came to Together for the Nations hoping that his spirit for missions would be “rekindled.”
“I wanted to know more to explain that and educate our church family,” he said.
“The stories we’ve heard have been inspiring and encouraging, also to see faces of who we’re praying for,” Owen said.
“I hope to take [information] back to educate our young people to let them know,” Owen shared. “We have a great children’s ministry and our youth, and I don’t think they know about missions like they should. That’s been heavy on my heart.”
Abi-Ananiah Prudent is a student from Columbus, Georgia, and attends a local university. She took her first overseas missions trip last year. Prudent said she came expecting to get a better understanding of where IMB missionaries serve and the work they’re doing.
“I’ve been getting that and so much more,” she said.
Repeatedly throughout the day, attendees were reminded of the realities of lostness and why the IMB exists.
- Lostness is the greatest problem in the world. It’s the only non-temporal problem.
- God cares deeply about lostness.
- The IMB is creating unique opportunities for gospel access. Some of those ways include global healthcare strategies.
- Still, 59% of the world’s population (4.6 billion people) is considered unreached.
- Steadfast missionary presence is vital to reaching them.
- The missionary’s task is rooted in the Great Commission. That includes entry, evangelism, discipleship, healthy church formation, leadership development and exit to partnership. All of this is centered around a missionary abiding in Christ.
- Even in hard places, churches are being planted and disciples are multiplying.
Solving the world’s greatest problem takes the partnership of Southern Baptist churches working with the IMB. Reaching the nations, together, is the vision of the IMB.
“For 178 years, we have, together, gathered our resources. We have trained up leaders to send out missionaries to have a presence among the nations for the gospel,” Derry said.
He referenced the model for teamwork in 3 John 5–8 of believers being “fellow workers for the truth.”
Derry said the IMB is asking churches to continue to “pray with us, give with us, go with us and send with us” so that the nations hear the gospel. This active support is key to missionaries providing gospel access that leads to gospel belief and church planting and multiplication.
Plugged in and equipped
During the main session, attendees were encouraged to plug into the mission of the IMB and were equipped to do so.
Attendees discussed, in small groups, their action plan to solve the world’s greatest problem — starting with lostness in their own communities.
In addition to main sessions, participants attended breakout sessions where they personally connected with IMB missionaries and staff and heard what God is doing in specific areas around the world.