More than 100,000 Kentucky Baptists were personally involved in missions last year, some in other countries and others closer to home.
The false notion that only preachers can be missionaries has been cast aside as Christians from all walks of life step out to obey the Bible’s command to go and make disciples, said Eric Allen, missions mobilization leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“There are mission opportunities for people with most any skill, talent or gift,” Allen said. “International Mission Board personnel serving overseas have requested help from Kentuckians who had experience coaching, in construction, and, in one case, artificial insemination of dairy cattle. These kinds of life experiences can be effective means of sharing the gospel.”
The total number of Kentucky Baptists involved in mission projects reached 105,979 last year, up from 99,622 the previous year, a 6 percent increase, based on data gleaned from the Annual Church Profile, a state-by-state survey of Southern Baptist congregations. The data showed the number of churches involved in mission projects reached 1,080 last year.
“That’s something to celebrate,” Allen said.
Kentucky Baptists have proven they’re willing to do their part for the cause of Christ. When the Kentucky Baptist Convention spread the word that International Mission Board missionaries needed volunteers with a specialty in artificial insemination in an undisclosed country in Europe, leaders didn’t know what kind of response they’d get, if any. It turned out several people stepped forward to help.
“I believe Christians have a greater awareness of the need to be on mission and they want to go,” Allen said. “Churches are helping members understand that there are many different ways to engage in missions using an individual’s gifts, talents and skills. Plus, no longer do we see missions as something that is done only on a summer trip. People are more likely to engage in missions every week in their local communities. And trips out of the state, or the country, now take place many times throughout the year.”
The Kentucky Baptist Convention encourages churches to take part in mission projects, and have developed partnerships with Southern Baptists working in other states and countries to make it easier. The KBC also invites Kentucky Baptists to take part in “vision trips” to areas that need help spreading the gospel, hoping to reveal the dire needs that exist in so many places.
“We provide training, placement assistance and scholarships for team leaders,” Allen said. “We have hundreds of mission opportunities in Kentucky, North America and internationally listed on our website, kybaptist.org/go.”
Allen said lots of churches are finding fulfillment in doing missions, like Indian Fork Baptist Church in Baghdad, Ky.
Since it was founded in 1802, Indian Fork had always been a financial supporter of international missionaries, but had never actually sent its own members overseas.
That changed last November when four members of the rural church spent a week ministering to orphans in Haiti and sprucing up the orphanage where they live.
“No matter what size your congregation is, the command and commission are the same,” said pastor Josh Rucker said. “The only limits are the ones we create.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger Alford is editor of Kentucky Today.)