Excuses were flowing through
Jason Palmer’s mind as quickly as the rain dripping through his tent: I won’t
make enough money. I don’t know enough theology. I don’t want to live overseas.
My parents will be upset. I can’t learn a new language.
It was 1996, and Palmer,
then a high school freshman, had come to Nicaragua with his youth group to
raise a building for a poor, rural church near Managua. But instead of working,
he’d spent the afternoon stuck inside a leaky tent, reading his Bible, while
the team waited out a tropical storm parked off of Nicaragua’s coast.
It was Palmer’s first
mission trip, first airplane ride and first time outside the United States.
That afternoon was also the first time he understood God’s purpose for his
“As I was reading, I just
remember hearing this small voice inside of me saying, ‘You’re going to be
doing this for the rest of your life. You’re going to go out and tell others
around the world about Me,’” Palmer said.
“I’ll be honest, it scared
Little did he know that
after wrestling with that call for the next 14 years, Palmer, 29, and his wife
Charity, 24, eventually would find themselves among a group of 57 new
missionaries appointed by International Mission Board (IMB) trustees Nov. 10.
The Palmers and others
relayed their missions calling during an appointment service that evening at
Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
“I’m glad I listened to that
voice and that it was persistent that long because I wonder how many other
people hear that voice and just keep denying it,” said Palmer, youth minister
of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham. “It’s like this internal battle inside
of my head; I’ve got my doubts and my fears and then I know what God has said
to be true. I know I have to be obedient.”
Charity and Jason couldn’t
resist the call anymore.
“If we were to stay here any
longer we would be disobedient,” Jason said. “That’s not what being a Christian
Charity said it was in
college when the fire started to burn for missions. She served in Louisiana
with Katrina relief efforts. Her sophomore year she spent in Spain studying. It
was there that Charity saw the need for Christ.
Jason plans to leave his
position in December before the couple goes to the IMB training center in
By the end of March, they should be in Slovakia, where Jason proposed
The couple started the
application process last year and because she did not want to disrupt the
school year, Charity did not go back to the school where she teaches this fall.
In Bible times, people had
to step into the water before the waters parted.
“The safest place is in
God’s will,” Jason said, but that also involves a lot of unknowns. “It’s not
The couple will celebrate
their second anniversary in December.
Looking at Durham County,
there are 100 churches, Jason said, but Slovakia’s considered unreached because
less than two percent of the population is evangelical.
There are only six
evangelistic churches there; three of which are Baptist. All are dying.
“There’s a huge need
overseas,” he said. “It’s really hard, hard soil.”
While there Jason will be
working as a church planter while Charity spends time with college girls they’ve
already met through previous mission trips. There are eight universities with
around 70,000 students in their vicinity.
Jason and Charity have seen
other friends start the process but not make it through.
“The further we got in the
process the more thankful we are for Southern Baptists,” said Jason, who’s also
thankful for his church.
The application process is
grueling and exciting.
“You’ve only got the grace
of God and that’s it,” Jason said. “It’s a humbling thing.”
To find out more about Jason
and Charity, visit www.jandcpalmer.blogspot.com.
The Palmers will soon leave
their North Carolina home to share the gospel and start churches in Slovakia, a
Central European country of 5.8 million people. The IMB’s Global Research
Department estimates that less than 2 percent of its population is evangelical
Christian. Other missionaries appointed that evening have North Carolina ties
as well, including two couples from Calvary. But security issues require their
For Charity’s parents
Franklin and Elizabeth Lawson of Sandy Ridge Baptist Church in Hickory, it’s
hard to see them go, “but we wouldn’t stand in the way of them going to share
the gospel,” Elizabeth Lawson said.
Jason’s mother Rose Ann
Palmer of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, remembers his mission trip to
Nicaragua and how he came back changed. Palmer and her husband Donnie have
tried to emphasize missions by taking family missions trips together.
In September, an appointment
service was held at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla. Hickory native
Allison McClure was appointed along with her husband, David Brian McClure. The
McClures will be serving as apprentice evangelism/church planters among
European peoples. Russell Wayne II and Jennifer Elizabeth Ford were also
appointed to serve among European peoples. Russell was the associate pastor of
Somerset Baptist Church in Roxboro. At this Sept. 15 service, there were also
four Code 3 couples and one single unit with N.C. connections that cannot be
identified for security reasons.
Clyde Meador, interim IMB
president, addressed the new missionaries at the appointment service, noting
that they came from a myriad of personal and professional backgrounds but had
now been united for a common purpose. Daniel Seagram flew Seahawk helicopters
for the Navy. Other former occupations include engineer, nurse, mailman,
graphic designer, kindergarten teacher, fireman and computer programmer.
“From before the day you
were born, this has been His purpose, this is His plan,” Meador said. “You have
been set aside, you have been consecrated. Not simply by the International
Mission Board, but by the Lord God Almighty, the God of the universe. He is the
one who has called you. And your task is to be a prophet to the nations. And
the nations need to hear what you have to say.”
Meador spoke about the
urgent need for missionaries, emphasizing the 6,600-plus unevangelized people
groups around the world — as many as 1.5 billion people — most of whom have
little or no access to the gospel.
“You go to destroy false
beliefs. You go to destroy false idols. You go to destroy hopelessness,” Meador
Comparing the new
missionaries to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, Meador also warned them
that their work wouldn’t be easy.
“I recently read again …
through the entire Book of Jeremiah, and I cannot remember a moment when his
task was easy. It was always difficult. Was he successful? He was obedient. He
was faithful. That was God’s call on his life. That’s God’s call on your life,”
Like new missionary Jason
Palmer, Meador challenged those in the audience to consider the excuses they
may be using to fight God’s call to take the gospel overseas in person.
“How about the rest of you
here tonight?” Meador asked. “What are your reasons for saying, ‘Not me.’
“Jeremiah’s reason … was
that he was ‘but a youth.’ … Your reasons might be different. … But God’s
response to those reasons is simply, ‘Don’t tell Me about it. I don’t want to
hear that.’ The point is not your qualifications. The point is His enabling.
The point is His strength, which matches your weakness.”
The IMB honored seven of
the new missionaries at a commissioning service Nov. 16 at Oklahoma Baptist
University in Shawnee. The commissioning was held in observance of the
university’s 100th anniversary and in conjunction with the annual meeting of
the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.
The IMB’s next missionary
appointment service is scheduled for March 16 at First Baptist Church in
In a Nov. 10 trustee meeting
in Greensboro, trustees adopted a 2011 budget of $308.5 million, $9.1 million
less than 2010’s budget. While many missionary positions remain unfilled, IMB
trustees appointed 57 new missionaries.
“We are still sending new
personnel, contrary to rumors that we sometimes hear,” said Meador, noting that
the missionary force has been reduced solely by sending fewer replacement
personnel when there are retirements, resignations or completed terms.
forward to a day when financial support reaches the point when we can increase
the number of new personnel being sent to the field each year,” Meador said.
Trustees also heard reports
of spiritual victories led by Southern Baptist missionaries and Baptist
partners on the field.
In 2009, IMB missionaries
reported 360,876 baptisms, 29,237 new churches and 96 newly engaged people
These new numbers, Meador
noted, usher in a more focused approach to reporting the IMB’s missionary work.
The organization’s annual report is now separated into two reports, with the
numbers cited by Meador reflecting work by IMB missionaries and those with whom
they directly relate.
Trustees also received a
report from 133 overseas Baptist conventions that listed 136,422 baptisms and
2,151 new churches. This report could show some overlap with the IMB report.
For the third consecutive
year, IMB trustees adopted a decreased budget from the previous year’s budget.
Though the IMB pulled $7.5
million from its reserves to balance the budget last year, the trustee finance
committee was committed to not repeating that move.
According to IMB officials,
the mission board is sending about 30 percent fewer long-term personnel than
would be sent if there were no financial constraints. The IMB still anticipates
sending 300 new long-term personnel and 200 to 250 new short-term personnel in
As Cooperative Program
dollars continue to slip, trustees focused on ways they also could cut costs in
the stateside budget, which accounts for a little less than 15 percent of the
overall budget, Fowler said. The IMB recently offered qualifying staff members
in Richmond, Va., a voluntary retirement incentive to take effect by the end of
In other business, trustees
heard a report of $2,063,474.46 released for hunger and general relief
projects, including funds used by Baptist Global Response, a relief and
development organization that partners with the IMB.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Graham is a
writer for the International Mission Board. BR Assistant Managing Editor Dianna
L. Cagle contributed to this report.)