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Work started, or re-started, in almost 30 countries as the Journeyman Program and other opportunities expanded FMB work. In South America and Africa, massive numbers of people responded to the gospel.

1960s Overview

In the 1960s Foreign Mission Board work continued to expand rapidly as missionaries entered or re-entered almost 30 countries. During this decade the FMB started new programs so larger numbers of Southern Baptists could serve overseas, particularly those who did not meet the age or educational requirements for career missionary service. The most popular was the Journeyman program, a Peace Corps-inspired initiative that sent young people overseas for two years of missionary service.

As increasing numbers of missionaries were sent out, the FMB recognized the need to provide extensive training for overseas service. New missionaries were already required to attend a week-long orientation session, but in 1967 orientation expanded to a full 16 weeks. Sessions included studying the linguistics and customs of the countries to which the missionaries were headed, along with practical topics like health and mechanics.

During the 1960s missionaries witnessed great responsiveness to the gospel. Throughout South America and Africa, Billy Graham-style evangelistic crusades led to thousands of conversions.

IMB Milestones

Significant Ministry Events

Journeyman Program Started

The Foreign Mission Board began sending young adults for two years of missions service. Since the inception of the Journeyman program, more than 6,400 young adults have served among the nations.


New Orientation Program Started

The Foreign Mission Board implemented a 16-week orientation program for new missionaries that included introductions to culture, history, linguistics, personal health, bookkeeping and more. Previously, missionaries attended little or no formal orientation prior to serving overseas.


Research Implemented as Part of Field Strategy

Mission strategy studies via on-the-field research began with a commission to examine church development factors in Latin America. Over the years, church development studies and church planting assessments continued, and in the 1990s missionaries were assigned to full-time research positions around the world. Their research helps field leaders make decisions about where to send missionaries and resources.

Baptism Chart

Missions in Context

Major World Events

First Communications Satellite Launched 

In July 1962, Telstar 1, the first communications satellite capable of two-way transmission, was launched. This commercial satellite was the first to transmit live television images between Europe and the United States, as well as the first satellite phone call. Satellite phones are a useful form of communication for missionaries in remote areas that do not have cell phone towers.

Telstar 1

Civil Rights Defended with ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech 

One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, freeing slaves in America, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave this speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he stated that African Americans were still not free. Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was later assassinated in 1968. The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, followed by several other laws aimed at racial equality in the U.S. In 1967, the Foreign Mission Board appointed its first African American career missionary in over 80 years, Mary Sue Thompson.  

Martin Luther King, Jr.

President John F. Kennedy Assassinated 

While riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas, Texas, the president was shot and killed. John F. Kennedy had proposed the Civil Rights Act a few months before his death. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president a few hours after the shooting.

1963 - JFK assassinated #2 (Wikimedia commons)

U.S. Authorized War on North Vietnam 

After Communist North Vietnam attacked two U.S. destroyers, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Congress to authorize military force. They passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed this action without a formal declaration of war. The conflict, which began in 1954, ended in April 1975 when South Vietnam fell to the North.

1965 - US Declares War on North Vietnam #1 (Flickr commons)


Heart to Heart

When Sam James preached from his heart, instead of from a scripted sermon, people in Vietnam responded from their hearts.


Astronauts Landed on the Moon 

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy proposed to Congress that the U.S. should commit to putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This was achieved through the lunar landing of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on July 20, 1969.

Astronaut on Moon

Missionary Profiles

Honoring Faithful Service

Frank and Rachel Roberts*

Frank Roberts* was recovering from a heart attack in the last days of his life, when the family received a call from a man they knew during their days in the Middle East. He wanted to visit. What could the man possibly want?

Frank and Rachel Roberts (publicity names)

Howard and Dell Shoemake

In the middle of the revolution, Howard Shoemake was called “the most influential foreigner in the Dominican Republic.”

Howard and Dell Shoemake

Jasper and Dotti McPhail

Establishing missionary work in India was harder than many at the Foreign Mission Board anticipated. They realized sending a doctor to the Christian Medical College in South India might just be the key.

Dr. Jasper McPhail

Mary Sue Thompson

It had been more than 80 years since the Foreign Mission Board had appointed any African Americans for career missionary service.


Otis and Martha Brady

“Be ready to preach, pray or die at any time,” Otis often told his disciples.


God at Work

Stories From The Field


A Chicken with No Clothes

Sam James describes the joy of language learning, even when 100 people are standing around laughing at his mistake.


First Southern Baptist Church in India

The first church related to Southern Baptist mission work in India is composed of Telugu people at Bangalore. “Membership now numbers 53—not including the Bethea family of eight!” wrote Lizette (Mrs. Ralph C.) Bethea in mid-April. ...



Career of Healing

The Fort doctors used their medical abilities to point people from darkness to light.


Our First Mexican Friends in Christ

We arrived here in northern Mexico last summer, fresh from language school in Costa Rica, to teach in the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary at Torreón. …

Pat Carter with Roman Family, Mexico


Speaking Their Language

Because of his fluency in Vietnamese, Sam James received an invitation to share his faith in an unexpected place.

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