“Is anybody hungry for a fresh move of God?” Las Vegas pastor Vance Pitman asked the crowd of 4,000-plus during the first of four main gatherings at the Send Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Photo by Casey Jones
North American Mission Board president Kevin Ezell and International Mission Board president David Platt introduced the main conference sessions at Send Orlando together. The two organizations partnered to host three Send Conferences across the United States from Long Beach, Calif., to Dallas, Texas, to Orlando, Fla., in 2017.
“Our prayer is that God would move fresh in your heart – that you would have a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit,” said Pitman, senior pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, in speaking on how to live on mission by redefining life.
The sold-out Send Orlando, July 25-26 at First Baptist Orlando, was the last of three 2017 Send Conferences focused on the theme “Redefine” sponsored by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and International Mission Board (IMB).
Send Orlando featured 43 speakers including Trip Lee, J.D. Greear, Rachelle Starr, David Platt and Kevin Ezell in 36 breakout sessions with topics that included “Effective Preaching in the 21st Century,” “Critical Issues in Global Missions,” “College, Compassion and Community,” “Women, Missions and the Holy Spirit.”
Starr, founder of Scarlet Hope, an organization that rescues women in the sex industry in Kentucky, led a breakout session on “Big Issues Made Small … Change Your Community, Change the World.” Starr shared stories from the front lines of her everyday ministry and encouraged attendees to look around and “find people who need to hear about Jesus.”
“Ministry can be messy, and sometimes even heartbreaking, but seeing the light of our great God shine into the darkness is a one-of-a-kind experience,” Starr said. “Our mission is to meet each woman right where she is and point her to Jesus who is our only hope. We share the gospel with each dancer, bouncer and club owner God puts in our path. He didn’t call us to just share the Good News when people ask but to go and share it to all who will listen.”
Generation Link, a mission-minded mentoring program located in 13 states and four countries, brought 150 interns to Send Orlando. Jeremy Chasteen, director of Generation Link, said he knew the positive impact Send would have on his interns because “the Send Conference always aligns with our desire to train young adults through the local church to be lifelong disciple-makers.”
Photo by Nick Drake
A late night worship concert featuring David Crowder, his band and rapper Kevin Burgess, also known as K.B., surprised attendees on the first night of NAMB and IMB’s Send Orlando Conference at First Baptist Church in Orlando. The July 25-26 event was the last of three Send Conferences held in 2017.
“I love having the opportunity to invest in young men and women currently making big decisions in their lives,” Chasteen said. “It was our hope that our participants would be exposed to continued opportunities for mission after Send Conference.”
While Send Orlando hosted breakouts for those looking to be discipled, the event also provided steps attendees could take to redefine their lives and move toward missional living every day.
“I pray that God will raise up many in attendance at Send Orlando who are willing to accept His call for their lives to take the gospel to places it has not yet reached,” said Chris Hunsberger, executive director of Radical, who has attended all three conferences this year. “The Send Conference is laser-focused on equipping and encouraging the church to mobilize and plant healthy churches.”
Send Orlando attendee Mark Koch, executive director of Ride Nature, a company created to impact the world through surf, skate and wake outreach, brought eight of his team members to Send Orlando for further growth and spiritual encouragement.
“We heard David Platt and Tripp Lee were speaking at Send Orlando,” Koch said. “They’ve always been an encouragement to our adventurous team. I’ve heard these men speak in the past and I was excited to bring my team along with me to hear them again, to grow in fellowship and to leave inspired to continue living daily missional lives.”
First Baptist Orlando staff and volunteers opened their doors to welcome the event and many church members attended and volunteered at the conference.
“I love the facilities and what we’re able to do here,” said Will Mowdy, a First Baptist Orlando member. “I’ve been coming to this church for 37 years because it’s truly a place where people are served in the name of Jesus. It’s such a privilege and honor to be here serving my church, my Lord and the people who’ve come to this conference to learn about living for Him.”
Platt, the IMB’s president, urged attendees who felt God’s call to share the gospel in remote places to get up and go.
“Charles Spurgeon said that every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter,” Platt said. “And yes, that is what this conference is about – to recognize every opportunity to live out the gospel and tell people about Jesus.
“But why in 2,000 years have we not gone with the gospel to northern Nepal?” Platt asked. “Yes, let’s live on mission wherever we are, but I also believe that God is not just calling disciples to be where they currently are but He’s opening doors for them to take the gospel to unreached places.”
“Every day we wake up should be a mission trip,” said Ezell, NAMB’s president. “As Christians, we’re all called to do this. We are all to be obedient and to share the gospel. At the North American Mission Board, we try to help churches plant 1,200 churches per year because we simply want you to be on mission and be encouraged in a place to live on mission every day.
“But then we want you be more interested in sharing the gospel than in simply hearing it,” Ezell said. “It’s amazing what God can do through you tonight and tomorrow and for the rest of your life.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Josie Bingham writes for the North American Mission Board.)