RICHMOND, Va. — Tommy Reed*
was soaked to the bone. The 27-year-old missionary was caught in a torrential
downpour as he rode his motorcycle to a Bible study in a remote Philippine
He found shelter under a
thatched-roof shed and stumbled upon the woman who would one day become his
church-planting partner — and his bride.
Reed and his wife were among
46 Southern Baptist missionaries appointed by trustees of the International
Mission Board (IMB) in two services, May 5 at Broadview Missionary Baptist
Church in Broadview, Ill., and May 6 at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss.
The appointment services were the last for IMB President Jerry Rankin before
his retirement July 31.
Karen Reed*, Tommy’s wife,
remembers that rainy night, now more than 20 years ago. The shed Reed stumbled
into was owned by her family. They’d never befriended a foreigner, much less
entertained an American in their home.
But the Filipino family invited him
inside anyway, and since he couldn’t go to his Bible study, Karen’s father
asked him to share the gospel with them instead.
Reed, a Tennessean who was
working with another missions organization at the time, spent the next 16
months teaching the family about Jesus, eventually leading Karen, her mother,
brother and sister to Christ.
In 2006, Reed and Karen were married and are now
heading to Southeast Asia to plant churches together.
Though the Reeds’
romantically inspired tale is unusual, it shares a common thread with the
stories of all new appointees in the sense that every missionary’s call is
Shawn Smith* remembers
hearing God audibly confirm his calling to missions at age 18 while attending a
“My Bible study leaders encouraged us to focus on prayer as a
two-way conversation with God. One night, as we were singing, I was praying to
God about my future,” Smith says. “I told Him that I wanted to go to the
mission field, but that I would not unless He led me there.
“I asked God if that was His
will for me. Then I waited in silence. After some time passed, I heard an
audible ‘Yes.’ Startled, I jumped up and looked around. Everyone was still
singing. I realized that God had spoken.”
Smith and his wife Elise*,
along with their three children, are now bound for Central Asia.
Returning to homeland
As a preschooler in Taiwan,
Lee Chen* first heard the gospel from American missionaries who visited his
“They gave us candy,
crackers, milk and pencils. They also brought the love of Jesus,” Chen says.
Those seeds finally began to
grow when Chen turned 16 and was invited to church by one of his classmates.
Thirty years later, Chen and his wife, Lucy*, working with another missions
organization, became one of the first Chinese missionaries to South Africa.
the Chens are returning to their homeland to spread the gospel in East Asia.
Amy Sweet* remembers being
laughed at when she told a room of accounting professionals interviewing her
for a college scholarship that she wanted to use her “accounting skills to
positively impact others,” possibly by working for a nonprofit organization.
“This wasn’t the first time
I received this reaction, but it was what I desperately wanted to do,” the
26-year-old Texas accountant says. “I began to pray, and God opened a door for
me to impact lostness.”
Sweet is now moving to South
America to plant churches and serve with the IMB’s finance department.
Church wasn’t an option for
Michael Kim*, whose parents strictly forbade him from attending the lone
Presbyterian congregation in the South Korean town where he grew up.
eldest son, he held the role of family priest, responsible for leading ancestor
worship rituals. But he was drawn to Jesus nonetheless and became a believer at
age 16, the first in 38 generations of his family.
His new faith enraged his
parents, who beat him, threatened to disown him and threw his Bibles into the
Kim eventually smuggled a Bible into his room and read secretly in bed,
hiding under the sheets. By the time he finished college, he’d read through the
Bible seven times.
“In order for me to hear the
gospel, there was a long flow of blood, sweat and tears of Western missionaries
to Korea,” Kim says. “As a debtor of the gospel, I am … heading to Southeast
Asia to share the Good News of Jesus.”
The appointment services
marked a milestone for Rankin, bringing the number to 101 he’s been a part of
during his 17 years as IMB president.
In that time Rankin has seen more than
10,000 men and women sent out as Southern Baptist career and short-term
“I want to thank you,
Southern Baptists, because of your faithfulness in praying, for your heart for
a lost world, for your faithful giving to the Cooperative Program (that) has
enabled them to go in obedience to God’s call,” Rankin said.
He challenged the new
missionaries to stay focused on their vision and passion for sharing the gospel,
something he found essential during his 40-year service with the IMB.
“It’s so easy (to get
distracted) living in a foreign country where you get caught up in just
surviving, taking care of your family and all of the bureaucracy and red tape
and hassle of congested crowds,” Rankin said.
Of the Apostle Paul, Rankin
noted, “Even though he was threatened, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, eventually
martyred … (he) was undeterred because he had a passion for a lost world to
know Jesus Christ as Savior. You’re here tonight because you had a very
distinct sense of God’s call to the mission field.
“As (Paul) expressed in that
final message of farewell to the Ephesian elders, ‘I do not consider my life of
any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the
ministry I’ve received from the Lord Jesus Christ.’ That was (pioneer
missionary to China) Lottie Moon’s life verse. My life is of no account; my
only purpose, my only passion, is to faithfully fulfill the calling of God to
share Christ with the lost world.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Graham is a
writer for the International Mission Board.)