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Durham couple preps for Slovakia
Don Graham, Baptist Press
November 19, 2010
10 MIN READ TIME

Durham couple preps for Slovakia

Durham couple preps for Slovakia
Don Graham, Baptist Press
November 19, 2010

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

life.

“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

me.”

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

is.”

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Charity and Jason Palmer share a moment during a time of dedication at Calvary Baptist Church’s International Mission Board commissioning service Nov. 10 in Winston-Salem. The Palmers, who currently live in Durham, will be serving in Slovakia. See photo gallery.

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

Richmond.

By the end of March, they should be in Slovakia, where Jason proposed

to Charity.

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

easy.”

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

anonymity.

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.

More appointments

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.

President’s address

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

said.

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,”

Meador said.

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

Dallas.

Trustees

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.

“We look

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

groups.

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

2011.

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

2010.

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.)