I just spent the past week with all of the IMB workers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and I want to encourage you—our Southern Baptist family—in the same way they encouraged me. These brothers and sisters are doing incredible work among many different peoples and in various places there. The gospel is making its way to people in remote villages and urban jungles across Sub-Saharan Africa who’ve not yet heard and believed.
If projections prove true, approximately 40 percent of the world’s professing Christians will live in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. That means this region is not just a massive mission field; it is a massive mission force. At the same time, many of these professing Christians are not actually believing the gospel. Some are believing a perverted form clouded by the promises of health and prosperity. Others who believe are being surrounded, in many areas, by Islam combined with traditional animism, and their faith is at risk of being snuffed out.
The danger of false religions beckons Christians to respond with the good news that breaks bonds and frees people to the truth of the gospel. The challenges and opportunities across the southern half of this continent are great, and our brothers and sisters are working tirelessly to see the gospel spread and God glorified so as to overcome these challenges by God’s grace.
“Our brothers and sisters are working tirelessly to see the gospel spread and God glorified.”
A Testimony of Perseverance
I’d like to share one specific conversation that I had last week. I was having lunch with a brother and his wife who have served for thirty-one years in Sub-Saharan Africa, all of those years in extremely remote areas (many days’ drive from any major city). Both of their grown children are now serving on the field as well.
I asked them how they have persevered through all of these years, and their answer struck me. I’ve asked that question before, and sometimes the answer—a wonderful, powerful answer—has centered around the people to whom they have been called to serve. The depth of love they have for their people cements their resolve to persevere through whatever may hinder their opportunity to share the love of Christ with all who may hear.
This couple, however, shared they have not persevered primarily due to their love for the people they have worked to reach. Instead, they said what has kept them going more than anything else is their love for God and their awareness of God’s love for them. They shared how they have continually desired to stay committed to God and show the people around them the depth of his love for them.
I was riveted by that response, and I couldn’t help but share it with you. I pray that in the coming year you may know God’s love for you in a deeper way, and that he might draw you into a deeper love for him. And then, I pray that all you do among the people you’re trying to reach—in your own hometown or around the world—is the overflow of the love relationship you have with the Father.
Thank You for Your Partnership
Thank you for your partnership in the gospel. Thank you for giving to the mission, for praying for the billions around the world who have not heard the gospel, for sending your own people with the good news to those unreached people, and for going to them yourself, whether short- or long-term.
Having just completed the 2017 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering season, it has been such a joy to hear your churches celebrating the opportunity to give sacrificially for the mission. And I cannot wait to see how God uses these gifts for his glory among the nations in 2018.
David Platt is president of the International Mission Board. You can find him on Twitter @PlattDavid.