Emily grew up overseas, where she learned a second language and began to sense God’s call to the nations.
Serving as a journeyman with the International Mission Board, she felt a burden for Europe and learned a third language. Now the young Texan is taking those skills and experiences to the missions field where she will serve with the IMB’s European affinity group.
“Please pray that I would abide in Christ, and His word would abide in me,” she asked those gathered at the June 14 Sending Celebration that completed this year’s SEND Conference.
That plea was echoed as missionary after missionary took the stage to share their hearts and publicly declare their call, even if security concerns in their soon-to-be homes required they do so veiled by a screen.
64 missionaries commissioned
Sixty-four new missionaries were sent out during the celebration, who will join more than 3,600 Southern Baptist missionaries and their 2,700 children who are already serving around the world.
The sending of missionaries through the IMB has not even slowed during the pandemic, said IMB President Paul Chitwood.
“More than 500 new missionaries have been appointed since the pandemic began,” he said. “Most have been able to deploy overseas. Others stand ready and waiting for the green light. Our work has not been thwarted.”
There is no more significant charge, no higher calling, no greater mission than to take the gospel to every nation, and we must be about that sacred task every day, Chitwood said.
“This afternoon we gather together to send 64 more to join the ranks of those who are on the front lines of gospel advance around the world,” he said.
Those sent out include:
- Brandon and Lisa Gregory of Reliance Fellowship of West Richland, Washington, who will serve as church planting partners among European peoples. The Gregorys said traveling to Europe sparked a passion for the people, and the support of their church was instrumental as they “respond in obedience to God’s call on our life.”
- Phil and Becca Bartuska, of The Summit Church of Raleigh, North Carolina, who will serve among European peoples in Austria. The Bartuskas served in Austria for a short time in the past when unexpected circumstances necessitated their return to the U.S. “We were uncertain if we would be able to return, but God answered our prayers by providing a way back into Austria,” Becca said. “We are returning again to serve with brothers and sisters from multiple nations who are preparing … to plant a church in an area … where no evangelical church exists.”
‘Why shouldn’t I go?’
The celebration included testimonies from journeymen who were commissioned in 2019 when the SBC gathered in Birmingham.
“Now that my time is almost up, we will need more workers on the field,” one said. “Instead of saying ‘why should I go,’ consider, why shouldn’t I go?’”
Kal Jones*, who will serve among Southeast Asian people groups, said the decision to leave their comfortable life in Alabama was difficult, but in the end, necessary.
“Friends tried to discourage us,” he said. “We will knowingly miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and many other holidays, and we readily accept the embarrassment that will come with mastering languages and cultures. … [But] as we prepare to go, … we know we are being faithful to God’s call on our lives.”
Many of the new missionaries asked for prayer in the following ways:
- Language mastery
- The transition to their new homes, especially for their children
- Strategic partnerships as they make disciples and plant churches.
*Names changed for security reasons