Neither John nor Serena Tail grew up as believers. “We routinely just lived for ourselves,” John explained. As a young person Serena often heard that church was full of hypocrites.
But one day, as a married couple, a neighbor invited them to church. On the same day, they both made professions of faith.
After participating in several short-term trips, their “faith in Christ’s plans, provisions and promises grew,” alongside their heart for the nations, Serena said.
Their faith journey since becoming believers hasn’t been an easy one, though. Circumstances throughout their lives led them to Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered program for people dealing with addiction, pain or hurt. While their lives were being transformed by the power of God through the program, they also came to a deeper understanding of themselves and others.
“There are different hurts, hang ups and habits in people’s lives,” Serena said.
Now, armed with the truth of Christ and a “fire and intensity” to go share the gospel with those in need of hope, as John described, they’re headed to Mexico to serve among Indigenous peoples. They hope to use what they’ve gleaned from Celebrate Recovery in their ministry in Mexico.
The Tails were two of 48 International Mission Board missionaries participating in a Sending Celebration on Feb. 2, 2022, at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Virginia. IMB’s board of trustees approved the appointment of 52 new fully funded missionaries in their meeting, also held on Wednesday.
The Tails are being sent out from Faithbridge Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Tails, whose children are in their early 20s, are leaving behind established lives and careers. They ask for prayer for Serena’s mom, who is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia and who is not a believer, and for them to be focused on their mission as they leave behind the life they knew.
Generosity matters ‘more today than ever’
“It matters more today than ever,” IMB president Paul Chitwood said of Southern Baptist generosity.
“If you’re part of the Southern Baptist family, whether you’re from a large church or a small church, your generosity is what sends and sustains these missionaries,” he told those attending the Sending Celebration, through livestream or in person.
In a world where more people are alive today than ever before and more people are lost than ever before, “the gospel is the only solution,” Chitwood said.
He added, addressing Southern Baptists, “You provide a missionary presence around the world, and God uses that to solve the problem of lostness.”
3 reminders when following God’s call
Jarrett Stephens, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, encouraged the new appointees from Acts 8 that “good things happen when God says ‘go,’ and you don’t say ‘no.’”
Drawing from the ministry of Philip, Stephens offered three reminders as they set out to follow God’s call.
1) Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
2) The work God calls us to comes with a cost, but it’s worth it.
3) It’s a privilege to join God in His work and give Him all the glory.
“You said ‘yes’ to God’s ‘go,’ but you are going to have to say it over and over again as His followers,” Stephens said.
“You go in the name of Jesus and know that you have thousands and thousands of believers who’ve got your back,” added Stephens, referencing the faithfulness of Southern Baptists to pray for and support missionaries.
Chuck Pourciau, trustee chairman and lead pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, led a time of prayer over the missionaries. He also challenged attendees to consider if God is calling them to follow in the footsteps of these missionaries and go to the nations.
A Journeyman returns
Kacie Kubosumi, one of the new missionaries in attendance, fell in love with the idea of missions during a semester spent studying abroad in Northern Spain. She was a new believer, and she’d written in her travel journal that her goal was to share God with “someone who’d never heard of Him and didn’t know Him,” she said.
That opportunity presented itself in a conversation with a student from Taiwan. Though the student didn’t make a profession of faith that day, and she never heard from them again, a passion was ignited.
She spent the last two years in East Asia as a Journeyman. Now, inspired by her family’s Japanese heritage and the practicality of her Japanese language minor in college, Kubosumi is following God’s call to make disciples on a college campus in Japan. She is being sent out by Resonate Church in Montana.
As she heads out in April, she asks for prayer as the landscape of college ministry in Japan shifts with ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. She also asks for prayer as she adjusts to living and working with a team where she is the only single woman — quite a contrast to her time as a Journeyman.
From Louisiana to Alaska to the nations
Scott and Dana Belmore both became aware of missions through Royal Ambassadors and Girls in Action programs in their churches as kids. While they felt called to ministry, it wasn’t until college, in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, that they became persuaded of God’s call on their lives to be mobilizers.
They’ve lived out that calling in their roles in state missions, national missions and now international missions.
The Belmores worked with college students, discipling and mobilizing them to go to the nations, through the Louisiana Baptist Convention and later the North American Mission Board in Alaska. The next place they’re following the Lord’s leading is to London, to mobilize and disciple students there through the IMB.
“I ask, ‘God, why do we get to be a part of this bigger picture you are trying to do?’” Scott said. “We just count it a blessing and a joy and an honor to get to be a part of what He’s doing all across the globe.”
The Belmores are being sent out from True North Church in Anchorage, Alaska.
They ask for prayer for their family as they transition, specifically for their daughter, Ruthie, who is 16 and will be moving with her parents, and their son, Andrew, who is 20 and will be staying in the U.S. to continue studies.
Visit imb.org/go to find out how you can serve with the IMB.