RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- During the Christmas season, take time to reflect on the stories below about events from the past year in global missions. Pray for the millions who need to know the Good News of Jesus and for His servants who sacrifice so much to be His heart, hands and voice to a lost and hurting world.
Southern Baptists' generous and sacrificial gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and through the Cooperative Program provide support for nearly 5,000 International Mission Board missionaries and their ministries.
But individually and together, we are Southern Baptist missions. If you are a follower of Jesus, God has called you to be part of the task to fulfill His Great Commission. The Apostle Paul says, "All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus has commissioned belivers to be His heart, His hands and His voice. Through praying, giving and going, Southern Baptists have been on mission for more than 160 years.
10 OF IMB'S KEY NEWS & FEATURE STORIES FOR 2011
-- World's unreached gain Southern Baptists' 'embrace'
Hundreds of pastors, church leaders, laymen -- young and old -- made their way down the aisles on the final evening of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting to make a public commitment for their churches to "embrace" one of the approximately 3,800 people groups currently not engaged by anyone with an intentional church-planting strategy and where less than 2 percent are evangelical Christians. (See Baptist Press' Embrace story collection (http://www.bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=188&offset=15).
-- Egypt's 'shock waves' could quicken Gospel's mobility
When Egyptian restaurant owner Abdou Abdel-Monaam Hamadah set himself on fire Jan. 17 to protest bread prices, protests were ignited in the rest of the Arab world. Christian workers hope for greater opportunities from the "Arab Spring" to spread the Gospel message in this part of the world.
-- Terrorist trainee finds Christ
As a teenager, Budi Mulyadi (name changed) trained to kill Christians. Nearly 20 years later, Mulyadi works with American Christian workers to manage worship sessions for youth in Southeast Asia. He helps local farmers learn better ways to raise healthy fish and grow their crops and he gives food to poverty-stricken families. He loves the people he once hated.
-- WorldView — Genessa Wells
Missionary Genessa Wells shared her passion for God with Egyptians, Palestinians in refugee camps in Jordan, Muslims in France, Bedouin in the desert. The world-shaking horror of 9/11 overwhelmed the news of this young woman's solitary death, at least at first. The story of Wells' short, luminous life has been told again and again.
-- Amid famine, life-and-death decisions grip Africa aid workers
Follow Christian aid workers in the Horn of Africa as they answer questions like "How do we decide who is the hungriest when everyone is hungry?"
-- Japan relief — let's do it together
Ganbarimashou means "let's do it together." It's the perfect phrase to use for Southern Baptists and Japanese Baptist disaster relief workers as they joined to meet physical and spiritual needs in Japan following an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
-- Tom Elliff inaugurated as IMB president and 'bondservant'
Tom Elliff was inaugurated Nov. 14 as International Mission Board's 11th leader. "I am introduced as president of IMB, but I am a brother and a bondservant serving the lost of this world. That is who we are," Elliff said at the service.
-- Among Asian fishermen, they seek to be 'fishers of men'
"We saw a people group who were mainly fishermen, and the Lord immediately struck in my heart," said Michael Cloer, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C. "God told us to be fishers of men … fishers of men among the fishermen." Englewood soon committed to ministering to the Koli people.
The world population reached 7 billion this past October. Many of the most Gospel-starved people groups on the planet live in countries with rapid population growth. The free access to the Gospel of Christ that most people in the West enjoy, billions in other places do not. If the suffering of others doesn't directly affect us, how often do we do anything meaningful to change it? It is increasingly urgent that we reconsider our indifference.
-- Haiti earthquake one year later — Haiti worker prays people won't forget
Since the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, Southern Baptists have given more than $13 million to relief efforts. In addition to building homes, these funds have helped provide temporary shelters, medical care, food, supplies and clean water to desperate Haitians. But as Haiti faded from front-page news, missionaries ministering there prayed that Southern Baptists wouldn't forget what happened.
NOTE: This year's Dec. 4-11 Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention focused on the theme of "His heart, His hands, His voice -- I am Southern Baptist missions" from Acts 1:8. Each year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists' 5,000 international missionaries' initiatives in sharing the Gospel. This year's offering goal is $175 million. To find resources about the offering, go to http://www.imb.org. For Baptist Press' collection of this year's Week of Prayer feature stories from China, Japan, South Africa, Bhutan and other mission fields,
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