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Rankin leads final appt. services as IMB leader
Don Graham, Baptist Press
May 11, 2010
6 MIN READ TIME

Rankin leads final appt. services as IMB leader

Rankin leads final appt. services as IMB leader
Don Graham, Baptist Press
May 11, 2010

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

village.

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

unique.

God’s voice

Shawn Smith* remembers

hearing God audibly confirm his calling to missions at age 18 while attending a

youth camp.

“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

kindergarten.

“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.

Now

the Chens are returning to their homeland to spread the gospel in East Asia.

Laughed at

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.

First believer

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.

As the

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

fire.

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.”

BP photo

IMB President Jerry Rankin, speaking during a missionary appointment service at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., May 6, challenges new missionaries to rely on the Holy Spirit.

Rankin’s appointment

milestone

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

missionaries.

“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.”

*Names changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Graham is a

writer for the International Mission Board.)