Platt encourages pastors: ‘Engage in SBC ecosystem’

During the International Mission Board’s report at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix, IMB President David Platt reported IMB is in a stable financial position which “sets the stage” to send more missionaries to share the gospel.

“We take seriously our responsibility and stewardship from the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to our cooperative mission efforts,” Platt assured messengers. “And especially in light of Cooperative Program giving up, I want to thank you and continue to encourage pastors across this room to engage in the entire ecosystem of the Southern Baptist Convention — all of us working together.”

“There is no question that the IMB is able to do what it does as a result of every facet of the SBC, from local churches to associations to state conventions, and all the entities we partner with,” he said.

“There is no question that the IMB is able to do what it does as a result of every facet of the SBC.”

—David Platt

Platt thanked Southern Baptists for increased giving to the Cooperative Program and approximately $153 million given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®. He noted the IMB no longer uses property sales for operations and that the agency’s reserves are funded at appropriate levels.

Platt reports at SBC 2017

IMB President David Platt gives a report to messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention June 13.

“In other words, the IMB is healthy financially, and what that means is, the stage is now set for Southern Baptists to stop decreasing and start increasing the number of missionaries we have serving around the world,” Platt reported to applause.

Platt highlighted a redesigned, created to help churches of every size send more men and women around the world on mission trips and as members of missionary teams.

Hundreds of current missionaries* sent Twitter-length reports to share with messengers how they are seeing God at work around the world:

  • In one country, we’re training 25 mixed-background believers as church planters through an underground Bible school in a highly persecuted context.
  • Physical access to another country has become more difficult, but we’ve seen over 250,000 digital Bibles distributed and hundreds of gospel conversations started inside that country over the last year.
  • In Eastern Europe, the Bible has now been translated and printed in the Udmurt language for the first time in history.

An Iranian father holds his son in front of the massive crowd that waits at the closed border between Greece and Macedonia.

  • In a North African village, we discovered an idea from the village leader for a tourism business. In the process of helping us develop the business, the village leader believed in Christ!
  • We saw the first church ever started amongst a Muslim people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • A woman learned at a Value of Life training in South Asia that abortion is not God’s will. In seeking forgiveness, she found salvation through Christ!
  • In East Asia, a man who was a lost chain smoker with a dragon tattooed body, heard the gospel, believed, and was baptized. He stopped smoking, his family came to Christ, and now he’s sharing the gospel with his co-workers.

Praying at a Bible study in San Pedro, Peru.

  • In North Africa, a new Muslim background believer is starting to face tough persecution after his baptism. But he’s facing it fearlessly, joyfully, and confidently, saying, “Jesus Christ promised suffering would come, but he also promised that He would be with me in the middle of it.”
  • In Southeast Asia, we’re equipping a national couple who will go for two years this August to reach a diaspora people group of 500,000 migrants.
  • In East Asia, we have helped a Christian brother plant a church over the last seven months in one of the hardest places in that part of the world. Ten people have now confessed Christ, and 12 others have already been baptized.
  • In a tribal region of South Asia, we have started reproducible theological training amongst leaders.

A field worker harvesting rice in northern Thailand.

  • In North Africa, we trained up and sent out a small group of Muslim background believers to a country hundreds of miles away. Those believers have now planted 20 churches with over 220 people baptized.
  • A seminary student in Eastern Europe helped plant a new church a year ago and this past month they baptized seven people, most of them former drug addicts.
  • We now have amazing access to many refugees coming into Europe. National partners that we are working with, alongside us are leading refugees from across Asia and the Middle East to faith in Christ and then discipling them one-on-one and in small groups.
  • One missionary said, “We’ve seen former Muslims praise God for the war in their country because it has led them to the peace of Christ.”

In Africa, a group of HIV+ people share a time of Bible study and singing.

  • In one region known for having one of the highest concentrations of lostness in the world, we’re seeing churches start, grow, and multiply.
  • One of our Sub-Saharan African missionaries said, “I am seeing lost people come to the Lord every day. Many times I am discipling them from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.”
  • A crippled young man in the bush of Africa put his faith in Jesus. He once prayed for God to let him die; now he’s sharing living hope with others.
  • Two missionaries hiked over sand dunes to carry the gospel to remote Muslims. They were arrested. The government warned them not to go back. They kept going back, and now a church has been planted there with 17 baptized believers.

A girl enjoys the sun shining on the main market square, Rynek Główny, in Krakow, Poland’s second largest city.

  • One of our missionaries shared the gospel with a man from South Asia. He put his faith in Jesus, was baptized, and then led 10 of his friends to Christ and started a discipleship group with them. Five weeks later, he died in a car accident, and now he’s with Jesus while his discipleship group is multiplying.
  • In just two years, a once unengaged city in East Asia has now seen four new churches start.
  • One missionary wrote, “20 years ago I couldn’t even live in the area of the closed Muslim country that housed the people group at the top of the IMB’s least reached list. But now, by God’s grace, I’ve trained the first Christian there who has started the first churches in that area.

An Azeri man reads the local paper while selling lottery tickets on the street.

  • One couple with kids writes, “After 2.5 years in the Middle East, our family has shared the gospel with over 800 people in their heart language: Arabic.”
  • Another missionary wrote, “As we were camping out, an unreached man asked me to share what made my life so different. I shared the gospel, and that night, he became the first known believer in that people group. Now, 19 believers meet regularly in his village.”
  • One missionary said, “This year we baptized five new believers from a closed country next to us. They’ve now returned to their home country and are baptizing new believers there.”
  • In a 100% Muslim village in western Africa, we hosted a medical/dental clinic and then took water filters to people’s homes. An entire family came to Christ, and now a church has begun in that village. It is no longer 100% Muslim.

“This is the work of the IMB,” Platt said. “And this is happening every single day. … Disciples are being made, churches are being planted, pastors are being trained, and missionaries are being sent from the nations to the nations. And ultimately, God is being glorified among people and entire people groups who until now had never heard the name of Jesus.

“This is the work of the IMB, and Southern Baptists, I want to call us to send limitless more missionaries to do that work all around the world.”

For more images like the ones seen here, visit IMB’s Photo Library.

*Locations cannot be shared for the security of IMB personnel and the national believers with whom they work.

Julie McGowan is IMB public relations manager.