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New IMB missionaries see beyond excuses


HATTIESBURG, MS (BP) — God would never call you to missions, you insist.

You’re too damaged. Or too average. Too inexperienced. Too tired. Too young. Too old. Too busy getting through the day-to-day. That’s your story – despite the still, small voice that keeps speaking to your heart.

Despite the many excuses – er, reasons – people have for not answering the call to missions, God doesn’t give up as easily as we give up on ourselves, according to some of the 77 new missionaries appointed by IMB trustees at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS, on Nov. 17.


Following the appointment of 77 new international missionaries, hundreds of people come forward at IMB President Tom Elliff’s invitation to make their own personal commitments to mission service, support and engagement. The service was held Nov. 16 at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS.

“For many years I didn’t think God could really use me. I was just a normal small-town girl with normal passions: children and education,” said new missionary Naomi Singer*, who is going to sub-Saharan Africa as an education consultant for the children of mission workers.

“I love being wrong!” she told the crowd gathered at Temple Baptist. “God is using what I have to offer.”

By the age of 9, Vicky Kane* was in her fifth foster home. “I had no future,” she said. “Little did I know that God would use this to burden my heart for the spiritually orphaned.”

After experiencing years of His healing and grace in the Christian family who adopted her, she’s going to East Asia with her husband Darrin* and their 1-year-old daughter to tell people as hopeless as she once was that they have a loving Father.

Tyson Sellers* was born with cataracts and has struggled with vision problems for years. “But my eyes now [have been] opened to the nations,” he said. His wife Sonya* was born in a Christian home but was “determined to be ordinary, to lean on my own understanding.” Now they’re headed out to make disciples of Jesus among East Asians with “no excuses and no limitations.”

The missionary appointment service was held in conjunction with William Carey University in Hattiesburg and its celebration marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Carey, the British shoemaker who became the “father of modern missions.” Carey himself struggled with resistance to his mission call from Baptists of his day – as well as his own family.

During the appointment service, the university’s Serampore Players, a student theater group named for the Bengali area of India where Carey served, dramatized the 1786 incident when a leading minister responded to Carey’s call for obeying the Great Commission by saying, “Sit down, young man.... When God wants to convert the heathen, He can do it without your help or mine.” Carey persevered – and changed history.

“Some of you may have the same question that we just saw theatrically performed,” IMB president Tom Elliff said during his message, addressing family members and friends of Southern Baptists’ newest missionaries.

“Maybe you’re asking, ‘What’s gotten into my kids?’ What kind of a person would leave everything behind – family, friends, an occupation or an education here – and go to some dark corner of this world to plant his or her life? ... What kind of a person would do what these folks are doing at their age and stage in life?

“They’re not just ‘for missions.’ They have a heart for missions. There’s a difference.”

The next missionary appointment service will be March 21 at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA.

*Names changed. Erich Bridges is an international correspondent for the International Mission Board (