IMB sees 2018 as year of transitions

For the International Mission Board, 2018 proved to be a year of transitions — both beginnings and endings — as Southern Baptists pushed forward in sharing the gospel with the vision of a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.

New missionaries

Partnering with Southern Baptist churches across the convention, IMB facilitated the sending of 177 full-time, fully funded missionaries during the year — missionaries such as Nathan and Kim Gunter from Kansas. The Gunters grew up in small churches where they saw the cooperative giving of Southern Baptists send men and women around the world with the gospel. “Now after years of pastoring an amazing church family here in the U.S., the Lord has made it clear that He is calling us to serve in Africa,” Nathan said. The couple is being sent to Sub-Saharan Africa by Lansing (Kansas) First Southern Baptist Church.

Kim Gunter, Kansas/Nebraska

Kim Gunter, wife of former IMB trustee Nathan Gunter, worships God in song during the trustees’ June 11 plenary session in Dallas. Nathan Gunter was pastor of Lansing (Kansas) First Southern Baptist Church prior to the couple’s appointment as IMB missionaries in fall 2018. (IMB Photo by Chris Carter)

Southern Baptists appoint 20 new missionaries to the nations

Southern Baptists celebrate the sending of new missionaries

Southern Baptist churches send 66 new missionaries to the nations

Southern Baptists celebrate sending 42 new missionaries

New president

IMB trustees elected a new president, Dr. Paul Chitwood, in November. Chitwood, who previously served as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, is the 13th president of the 173-year-old entity. “Dr. Chitwood is uniquely qualified to lead us into the next era of Southern Baptists reaching the nations,” said Dr. Chuck Pourciau, chairman of the IMB Presidential Search Committee, and senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church, Shreveport, Louisiana. “His missions heart and leadership acumen will serve us well in the years to come. I am eager to watch God work through him as he leads our international missions efforts.”

Dr. Paul Chitwood (left), newly elected president of the IMB, shares a moment of levity with Dr. Chuck Pourciau, chairman of IMB’s Presidential Search Committee, during a Nov. 15 press conference. (IMB Photo by Chris Carter)

Chitwood unanimously elected as 13th IMB president

Chitwood announced as candidate for IMB’s presidency

Chitwood succeeds Dr. David Platt, who announced his intention to transition from the IMB in February. Platt resigned in September to serve as pastor-teacher at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia. Dr. Clyde Meador served as interim president of the IMB from September to November, until Chitwood’s election. At Chitwood’s request and with the approval of IMB trustees, Meador serves as interim executive vice president.

Platt asks trustees to begin search for successor

Platt to step down from IMB; Meador named interim president

Tragedy and hope in the Congo

While celebrating the sending of new missionaries, IMB also celebrated the ministries of Randy and Kathy Arnett, missionaries to Africa, yet grieved the loss of their lives in March. The Arnetts died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Arnetts were traveling to conduct theological training with national believer partners.

Randy and Kathy Arnett in Africa

Randy and Kathy Arnett celebrate the 50th anniversary of Baptist work in Cote d’Ivoire in August 2016, walking about two miles to a seminary alongside fellow Christians. The Arnetts, who died March 14, were known for the joy they shared with African friends and colleagues. (IMB Photo by William Haun)

IMB missionaries die from injuries sustained in Africa accident

In the months following the accident in Africa, IMB followed the ongoing recovery of fellow missionaries Jeff and Barbara Singerman, who also were in the vehicle with their colleagues. Barbara reported ways the couple have seen God mobilize fellow believers in Benin since the accident.

Singermans see cooperative gospel effort in Sub-Saharan Africa

Faithful support for missionaries

Southern Baptists demonstrated faithful support of their international missionaries through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®. In the 100th anniversary since Southern Baptists named their global mission offering in honor of esteemed missionary Lottie Moon, IMB reported $158.9 million given, the second-highest offering in its history.

Jim Slack (BP Photo)

2017-18 LMCO totals nearly $159 million

Remembering Jim Slack

Southern Baptists bid farewell, this side of heaven, to longtime missiologist Jim Slack, 80, who was known for his greeting of “Hello World!” when he learned something new. In his 50-year career with the IMB, Slack helped missionaries learn Bible storying, and he engaged in research and advocacy for the world’s unreached peoples.

Jim Slack’s ‘Hello World!’ now heard in eternity

Week of Prayer

During the Week of Prayer for International Missions, IMB missionary Larry Pepper recounted ending his career as a NASA flight surgeon decades ago to follow God’s call to a new career in medical missions in Africa. Pepper’s story was one of seven shared during the annual prayer emphasis.

Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support IMB missionaries such as Larry Pepper (center), who was a NASA flight surgeon before God put him on a different trajectory: working with the IMB at hospitals in Africa. He’s now spent more than two decades offering hope to the hurting there. (IMB Photo)

Losing yourself for the lost

Lilly’s Christmas Gift

In a sweet ending to the year, the IMB family cheered a precious new beginning as 6-year-old Lilly Chitwood saw her Christmas wish come true: a family to call her own. Lilly’s adoption by Paul and Michelle Chitwood was finalized in early December.

Lilly Chitwood’s face lit up when a family court judge officially declared her the daughter of Paul and Michelle Chitwood on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. The Chitwoods had fostered Lilly through Sunrise Children’s Services for three years. (Kentucky Today/Robin Cornetet)

Kentucky girl receives Christmas gift she wanted most: a family of her own

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is a registered trademark of Woman’s Missionary Union.

This story originally was published by Baptist Press.

Julie McGowan is public relations manager for the IMB.