As I write these words, I’m sitting on a plane next to a self-proclaimed Unitarian Universalist Buddhist. Needless to say, it’s been quite an interesting and ultimately heartbreaking conversation about the gospel. I’ve been reminded of an adversary who blinds minds in all kinds of ways, and I’m praying right now for people across our IMB family who are having similar conversations with people today all across the world.
And that leads me to the words I want to share below. I am traveling back from spending time with state convention executives and state paper editors in the SBC, where we discussed all that has happened this last week in the IMB. I know that our IMB missionaries are communicating with churches, I know that pastors are communicating with their congregations, and I know that Southern Baptists everywhere are asking questions.
So, I’d like to let you all know what I shared with these convention leaders. Here’s the first part of my opening remarks.
Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but these last couple of days have been pretty full at the IMB. Here are the high-level details I most want you to hear from these past couple of days. And I would ask you to please write them down to get them clear.
- We held training for pastors of six new churches in an extremely remote, spiritually dark part of South Asia.
- We gathered late at night to encourage eighty-five new believers in a part of the world where evangelism and baptism are illegal.
- The story of the gospel spread through media in unprecedented ways, never before seen in the Middle East.
- Six people came to Christ among an unreached people in Eastern Europe.
- Personnel were working with a severely displaced group of Muslim refugees from Southeast Asia who are now hearing about real hope for the first time.
- Pastors were trained to combat the prosperity gospel in a seminary in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Amid all the news that people want to talk about at the IMB right now, we are in danger of missing the most important headline:
Disciples are being made, churches are multiplying, and pastors and missionaries are being trained all over the world in places and among people where the name of Christ has not been known.
That’s the big news in the IMB this week. And every week. And my prayer for the SBC and the IMB, now and in the days ahead, is that this is where we would keep our focus.
Yes, David Platt made an announcement this week about his role in the IMB, but the IMB is not David Platt. The IMB is a coalition of over forty-seven thousand churches working together to support thousands of anonymous missionaries whose names and the places where they work can’t even be mentioned in public because many of them are spreading the gospel at great risk to their lives and their families.
They are the IMB, and they were working hard yesterday, they’re working hard today, and they will be working hard tomorrow. People ask, “So how is this affecting the IMB?”. And the answer is, “We’re still doing what we’ve been doing for 173 years: evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.”
Family Working Together
I thank God for each of you in this SBC family. Pastors who lead churches to join in God’s mission. Individuals and families who give financially to support the work of missions. Churches and individuals who join in the work of the IMB through short-term trips to support the missionary task among the unreached. And all of the missionaries who have followed the call of Christ to move into new cultures around the globe—among those who need to hear the glorious news of Christ and his gospel.
I am praying right now for all of us and for the work you are doing today to make this mission around the world possible. This is what the SBC and the IMB are all about, and it will continue to be so. So please join me in prayer for those among us who are proclaiming the gospel to unreached people. And please be in continual prayer regarding your own role in getting the gospel to every nation for the glory of God. Let’s make this the headline every week in the SBC.
David Platt is president of the International Mission Board. You can find him on Twitter @PlattDavid.