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"Pray for us," Georgia missionaries say at NAMB commissioning

 

STONE MOUNTAIN - "How many missionaries do we have here today?" Edwin Lamb asked as he looked out over the crowd gathered at Mountain Park First Baptist Church.

Seated before him were 88 North American Mission Board missionaries and about 800 friends and members of the church.

As a few hands slowly began to rise, the deacon quickly responded, "That's right, raise those hands. We are all missionaries, today and every day."

Those comments as Lamb led the congregation in the opening prayer set the tone for NAMB's Nov. 7 missionary commissioning service. As missionaries introduced themselves and gave a brief summary of their ministry, the point was subtly and repeatedly driven home - God has called all believers to be on mission for Him wherever they live.

Among those being commissioned were three Georgia Baptist couples who will be carrying the gospel to Texas, Florida, and across the nation. While sharing their missionary calling in Sunday School classes prior to the ceremony, all three couples asked Mountain Park members to join them in prayer support for their ministries.

Jeremy and Josephine Sin of Lawrenceville will remain in Georgia as Jeremy Sin serves as national church planter for Chinese and second-generation Asians. He will be working with local churches, associations, and state conventions in the U.S. and Canada to start churches to that people group. The couple, who have three sons and a daughter, will continue to be members of First Chinese Baptist Church of Atlanta, where he has served as pastor. He was a member of the ethnic response team of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Sin asked Georgia Baptists to "pray for the beginning of more Chinese works across the nation and Canada and for more Chinese and second-generation Asians to respond to God's call to His ministry. There are so many churches and mission opportunities looking for pastors and church planters. The lack of workers really bottlenecks the harvest."

He also asked for prayer for the many workers of Chinese buffet restaurants that have mushroomed in the eastern and southeastern U.S. in recent years.

"The workers are mainly from Fujian, a coastal province in China, and they speak a dialect that is different from Cantonese and Mandarin. There is one Southern Baptist church in New York City that is ministering to this group of people. In just one year they have grown to about 100 people meeting regularly for worship and discipleship. They have an urgent need to find their own place to meet."

Sin also requested prayer for himself and his family as they adjust to his extensive travel schedule.

Carla Clements, a native of Moultrie, was commissioned to serve under the Nehemiah church planter program at Forest Meadow Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. She is currently a student at Southwestern Seminary.

Clements asked Georgia Baptists to pray for God's wisdom and the Holy Spirit's leading in dealing with people she encounters so they will be open to the Good News.

John and Elizabeth Courtney will be serving in West Orange County, Fla., with their ministry in the Greater Orlando area. John Courtney, a church planter, is a native of Thomasville. Elizabeth Courtney, a full-time home-maker, is a native of Griffin. The couple have a daughter and a son.

They asked Georgia Baptists to pray for the strengthening of relationships among the core group members as well as the pastoral team in their new church start.

While the morning ceremony was an emotional time for the missionaries and their families, the commissioning was especially meaningful for Samuel and Rebecca Caballero of Colorado - they were being commissioned along with their son and daughter-in-law, Fernando and Donna Caballero. While the older couple will serve in Denver in church planting among a variety of ethnic groups, the younger couple will be statewide missionaries for multiethnic church planting.

Cabellero and his wife have started 18 churches in the past 31 years in Colorado and look forward to being used of God to start even more. But he emphasized the need for more laborers to be called alongside them in the harvest.

"We are praying for you to respond to the call of God on your life, just like we read in Luke 10. We need you to join us in the harvest on the mission field, wherever that might be. If God has placed a burden on your heart, respond today to His calling. You will never regret your decision."

The dual commissioning was the first for NAMB, missionary mobilization team director Jane Bishop said.

NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord told the crowd that the world of 2004 is identical to the world when Christ walked the dusty streets of Israel. It's a world caught up in its own pursuits and is in just as big of a need for a Savior.

But in comparing the two worlds, Reccord noted that with all of the decadence and self-absorption, in a matter of months the Christian church exploded from a handful of disciples to more than 50,000 believers.

"In Acts 11:19 we read about the church going to the uttermost parts of the world. I want you to know that those who went were those laypersons who were sitting in the pews, just like you are doing today," he said.

Reccord then said the church encountered such phenomenal success because it was focused on its mission.

"I want to remind you that the church does not exist for those who sit in the pews; it exits for those who do not yet sit in the pews. It exists to reach those who have not yet been reached with the Good News."

Southern Baptists' newest missionaries will join more than 5,100 current NAMB missionaries who serve in every state, province and territory in the United States and Canada, supported by gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Joe Westbury

Mary Ellen Nunnelly, left, and William Puckett, right, move into position to begin the Parade of Flags processional at the opening of the commissioning service. Children in grades five through eight, many of whom are members of Mountain Park's missions groups, helped in the processional.

Joe Westbury

Members and guests at Mountain Park First Baptist Church stand as flags representing U.S. states and territories and Canadian provinces, symbolizing the mission field, are led into the sanctuary.

Joe Westbury

Donna Davidson, left, and Beverly Hitchcock, right, listen as Carla Clements shares her call to missions. Clements, a native of Moultrie, was commissioned to serve under the Nehemiah church planter program at Forest Meadow Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Joe Westbury

Jeremy Sin talks about the challenges of reaching Chinese and second-generation Asians in North America. Sin, accompanied by wife Josephine and their four children, spoke to Jon Paul's Sunday School class

Joe Westbury

Thomasville native John Courtney shares his and wife Elizabeth's work in Central Florida. They will be starting a church in the West Orange County area near Orlando. Elizabeth is a native of Griffin.