From Missionary Boats to Willing Martyrs: This Is Us

“We want missions to not just be an activity we do . . . we know it’s part of who we are,” said Brad Russell, pastor of Old Powhatan Baptist in Powhatan, Virginia. “As Southern Baptists, our identity is in who we’ve been.”

Indeed, the rich history of the IMB is one worth celebration. The collective work of generations of churches who’ve sent missionaries to the unreached across the globe has built a foundational identity that has shaped the Southern Baptist Convention and the IMB for 172 years. And an incredible history it is.

Below is a video that shares a bit more about some of our little-known stories from past—stories that need to peek out from the dark crevices of storage bins and dive headlong into the middle of our churches.

From the “Buffalo,” a missionary boat, to the adventures of a self-taught pilot missionary, to the letters of encouragement and hope of a distraught missionary widow in China—these are stories from the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before, paving the way and planting the seed for incredible harvest.

Christ is Above All

Artifacts from 172 years of SBC missionary service fill the shelves of the IMB archives. From the likes of Lonnie Forman, Landrum and Sallie Holmes, Lottie Moon, Rufus Grey—the archives hold the riches of our history and remind us that Christ is worth every sacrifice. He alone satisfies the longings of our restless souls. He alone offers hope for every individual on the planet who wanders in hopelessness. He alone is worthy of the glory squandered by billions around the world on lesser gods.

May this knowledge serve as a catalyst and encouragement in our work of making much of Jesus among the nations. This is us:


The International Mission Board provides archives and records management services to researchers and staff for the study of Southern Baptist missions history.

Our Mission: Preservation

The mission of the archives and records service is to identify, organize, and preserve information that details the Southern Baptist international missions experience. We seek to inspire future generations by sharing the rich history of Southern Baptist ministry among the nations.

  • We collect, preserve, and make available for use resource materials that document Southern Baptist field personnel and missions history.
  • We collect, preserve, and make available for use IMB organizational records.
  • We network with Southern Baptist Convention entities on research requests, records management practices, information sharing, and special projects.

We’re here to serve you. If you need additional information or assistance, please contact us.


Ivan Mesa is an editor for the International Mission Board. You can follow him on Twitter.