This is a guest blog by Will Galloway (pseudonym): Former Missionary in Central Asia
I attended the 2010 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) this past week. The main subject of the meeting was the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF). As a result, many of the sermons preached during the Pastor’s Conference, which took place on Sunday and Monday prior to the SBC were centered on the importance of the Great Commission. One of those messages in particular, beautifully demonstrated the necessity and blessing that Southern Baptists experience when they take part in the Great Commission. That message was preached by Dr. Daniel Akin, the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Dr. Akin challenged all Southern Baptists from Hebrews 12 to run the Christian race well. During his sermon, he played a video of a recent mission trip to Sudan that he and a team of Southern Baptists took part in. The images of children and adults who have been and are battling civil war, disease, hunger, and spiritual darkness showed the necessity of followers of Christ participating in the Great Commission. However, the images of these same people being baptized as a result of the work of this team of Southern Baptists demonstrated the blessings that come when we participate in the Great Commission.
Check out the Video
Mission Trip to Sudan from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.
The 2010 SBC in Orlando was an historic convention for Southern Baptists. We came together and placed a major emphasis on fulfilling the Great Commission. This is a major step forward for our convention. We as Southern Baptists are stating that our main focus as a convention of local churches is fulfilling the Great Commission. This alone is our aim and purpose. However, this is not enough. We must not be content with this step in the right direction, or content with merely a mission statement. Instead, we must be actively involved in the Great Commission. Each Southern Baptist and especially the young men of the SBC must take part in the Great Commission, and even must consider how they will take part in this work in a global fashion (I realize not all are called to foreign missions, but as Platt has reminded us, the goal is for all of us to think with a global perspective). I want to briefly share with you the experiences my family and I have had and how we have been blessed by taking part in the Great Commission.
In January of 2008, my wife and I left America and moved to a large city in Central Asia. We served as ISC missionaries with the IMB from January 2008 to January 2010. Before serving these 2 years, we did not know what to expect. We were excited about serving as missionaries, but more than anything we were nervous. We did not know how much we were going to enjoy the next 2 years. We were sad to leave our home and our families. However, God blessed our marriage, family, lives, and ministry more than we could have ever imagined. My wife and I both agree that this was the best 2 years of our lives.
However, initially I was hesitant to take my wife overseas. I was told through email of a wonderful ministry opportunity in Central Asia. This opportunity involved working with college age men many of whom were professing Muslims. However, when I first read this email I said to myself “I might do this if I was single but I am not going to take my wife there.” As a result I sat on this email for several weeks. Until one evening while we were having dinner, I told her about this email I had received. What happened next I did not expect. My wife quickly responded by saying, “we need to seriously pray about this opportunity,” so much for me being the spiritual leader God has commanded me to be. However, beginning that night we began to pray about moving to Central Asia and within 9 months we had completed the application and training process and were on a plane headed for Central Asia. It was very difficult to leave our family, friends, and the only home we had known as a married couple. However, God blessed us with many new friends and a new family that accepted us as their own. God is always faithful to provide for us the strength we need when we are faithful to serve him. We must not allow our fear of being away from family keep us from serving God across the world.
During our first several months we quickly became close with one of the young men we were ministering to. He was a fairly devout Muslim. Within 6 weeks of living there, he and I began to study and read the Bible together. Over the next 2 years we would study the Bible together on a regular basis. God began to do great things in his life. After about a year of studying the Bible together, he began having dreams in which Jesus was appearing to him. Furthermore, during our 2 years together we grew so close that before I left he called me his brother.
Not only were we able to share the Gospel with him, but he introduced us to his family and they accepted us like their own. Shortly after arriving in the city we found out we were pregnant. We were so excited that God had blessed us with a child, but were nervous and did not know what it would be like having a child in this large city where we either walked or road public transportation everywhere. However, God used our little boy to open up a major ministry opportunity with this young man and his family. We would spend hours upon hours at their home eating more food than you can imagine and his mother and aunts would just swoon over our little boy. We had this young man, his mother and several other young guys to our home for Easter. We had a time in which we read the Bible, and shared the Easter story with over 20 people who had never heard the message of Jesus Christ. After having an Easter meal together we watched the “Passion of the Christ” film by Mel Gibson. This young man’s mother came in and watched the film and was moved to tears at the sight of seeing Jesus beaten and crucified. Shortly after seeing this film, she told us that she also had a dream in which “A prophet in white” appeared to her. We even had the opportunity to spend several days with them at their summer home. This family loved us and made us part of their lives. This young man and his mother traveled with us to the airport the day that we headed back to the states. She spent the entire 2 hours at the airport before we left holding our son. We continue to talk with this family on a regular basis and my wife and I often mourn the fact they we are no longer living near them.
During the video of the Sudan mission trip that Dr. Akin showed I began sobbing and I could not stop. I was indeed moved by what I saw. I was moved by the lost men, women and children that I saw in the video. I was moved by the poverty and despair that I saw in the video as well. However, the main reason I was led to tears was because as I looked at the faces of those lost men and women I began to see the faces of those that I had spent the last 2 years of my life among and I could not stop crying for them, for all of them remain in their sin separated from God.
The passing of the GCRTF report is indeed a step in the right direction for our convention. But, for a Great Commission Resurgence to become a reality we (southern Baptists) all need to step up and to participate in the Great Commission. Men we must not be more concerned with ministerial success than we are fulfilling the Great Commission. As husbands and fathers we must not allow our desire of making our family safe and comfortable more important than participating in the Great Commission. Also, we must be willing to miss out on weddings and holidays with our friends and family to fulfill the Great Commission. It is not enough to believe the correct Doctrine instead we must put this doctrine into action. I encourage all Southern Baptists to be willing to spend 2 years serving the Lord overseas or be willing to church plant in the underserved regions of our nation. You can be assured that you will be blessed more than you can imagine.
Great Word! Thanks for sharing about your experience and encouraging us all to be willing to lay it all on the line for the sake of the Gospel. One thing is for certain, God is moving and at work in hearts and lives all around the globe. My question is…How are we going to join Him and take part in what He is doing? Thanks again, Will
May I use that picture of the person with the world on the face for our church bulletin cover? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!