In two months I will travel with five NWBC pastors to East Asia on a vision tour with the hope that the Northwest Baptist Convention will enter a partnership with our friends overseas. The purpose of the partnership is to join with our international workers to reach a people who are almost wholly unreached for Christ. In so doing, our churches will have the opportunity to pray for these people and send teams to East Asia in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will get to know our overseas workers and see first-hand what they do and what our Cooperative Program dollars are doing. And we will help them do it! Our pastors will train house church leaders in this country. We will speak in universities. We will evangelize in the streets and the villages.
I spoke about the possibility of a partnership at the NWBC annual meeting in Yakima last November, but at the time we had no specifics on where we might go. Now we do. And already we are discovering connections! For example, Phil Peters, team leader for Region 2, has a sister serving overseas, and as it turns out she serves where we are going! She and her family will be some of those with whom we will work. I am expecting we will discover other Northwesterners there as well.
Not only that, but after our leader for all the work in East Asia asked us to go to this particular area, we learned that at least two of our churches are already partnered there. Resonate Church in Pullman has been sending teams to this area for the past three years. And Greater Gresham Baptist Church established a partnership in this same area about 16 months ago.
Now, get this: I was speaking with Keith Evans, pastor of Greater Gresham, telling him where we are going. That’s when he told me that they are already partnered there. He told me some of the overseas personnel they work with, and then he mentioned the name of a man that they work with most closely. When he told me his name I said, “Keith, I was that man’s pastor! We took him on his first overseas trip.” And now he is one of our key workers in this area of East Asia. Small world! I expect that we’ll find other connections between people there and here as we move along.
I’ve been involved in establishing three state convention/international partnerships, and participated in three others. Always we saw God do amazing things, including calling some of our people to join the ranks of our international workers. A partnership in East Asia will give our churches the opportunity to send people and pray for people and engage in many other ways. And we’ll get to do it together! Think of how it will be when 20 or 40 or 100 of our churches can share the common the experience of overseas work in a particular area (I could only hope that the number would be higher still!).
This I know, when we give our people opportunity, some will step into that opportunity. If your church does evangelism training and provides opportunities to share the gospel, not every member will take advantage of the opportunity, but some will. If you plan a mission trip, not every member will participate, but some will. Churches that provide opportunities will discover that some step into the opportunity. In my experience, churches that provide opportunities produce more soul winners/missionaries/preachers/kingdom-minded people, than churches that provide few opportunities. And you don’t have to be a big church to do this. The teams we send will be small, typically 4 to 6 in number, and churches can join together to send a team. Your association might send a team.
Northwest Baptists already have 110 overseas workers serving with our international board. That is testimony to our churches and leaders and collegiate workers. Praise God! And I hope that you will begin praying and dreaming and thinking of how you and your church might participate in East Asia.
Northwest Baptist Convention