First Person: We feel your prayers overseas

Grateful for Church Connections

Editor’s note: The International Mission Board initiated Church Connections to facilitate connections between IMB missionaries and churches who do not have direct contact with a missionary. Church Connections efforts began in 2020 with a pilot involving 10% of IMB’s missionaries. April 5, 2021 was the official launch of Church Connections. It’s estimated that by the middle of this year, every Southern Baptist church will receive a personal contact from a missionary.

Interested in connecting with an IMB missionary now? Contact:

Churches looking to increase their involvement with the IMB can do so in the following ways:

My family is so encouraged by the fruits of the Church Connections program, the International Mission Board’s effort to build sustained, ongoing relationships so that every Southern Baptist church is connected with at least one IMB missionary.

Since my wife, Marie, and I started intentionally connecting with a broad spectrum of churches through this program, we’ve seen an impact on the churches and on our ministry.

From the introductory emails we sent out since beginning the program, 10 churches responded and invited us to speak to their congregations. Five let us know that they met or exceeded their Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® goal. Three of those churches said they gave the most they ever had to the offering that supports God’s work among the nations through IMB missionaries.

While we’re not claiming that our relationship with the churches brought about this increase in giving, what we are saying is this: Those churches now have a face in mind when they give to the Lottie offering. They heard the stories we were blessed to share, and now they feel more connected to the work. Many of the churches hadn’t had someone from the IMB contact them in decades, if ever.

And we need these churches. Southern Baptists, we need you.

We were at a church’s Woman’s Missionary Union meeting recently and these ladies were so sweet. Being with folks who have prayed for you for so long, it’s humbling. Being in our dedicated Southern Baptist churches helps us as missionaries and the churches themselves to realize that we’re all in a huddle. We’re a team! Southern Baptists, you’ve sent us out, but you are part of this. We cannot and we should not do this alone.

We connected with one church in the fall of 2020. We began praying with their pastor, and to this day, every Tuesday we meet with the pastor online to pray.

Really, we can sense overseas when people are praying. We can sense when they’re not. Your prayers are such an encouragement. When we feel that we’re not being surrounded by your prayers, Marie will tell me, “I’ve got to write people and get them praying.”

At another church, I preached in the morning, then that night, we were going to go through a prayer guide for our people group. I asked the pastor how long he wanted me to talk. He said, “I don’t know. Maybe 10 or 15 minutes.” The congregation, though, had other ideas. It was like some old time Bible study. Nobody got up and left. We stayed for like two and a half hours. They just sat there. They told us not to stop. They were asking one question after another. It was so amazing to sense the Holy Spirit in that.

At the end they asked, “What can we do? How can we be involved?” And we told them they can adopt our people group. They’re currently in the process of doing that.

This is a smaller church that no one had connected with. But now they’re super excited to hear the work God is doing now that our people group finally has the Word of God in their language.

We are so thankful for the fruit we are seeing in our ministry after years of seeing so little. We are convinced that’s because the Bible translation project that you funded is finally complete, and our people can hear the Bible in their heart’s tongue.

But Southern Baptists, we could not do anything we do without you.

Thank you for Southern Baptists for giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Because of your prayers and gifts, we got to go. We got to be part of the work God is doing among our people. You can rejoice with us because you gave and lives are being changed.

Some names may have been changed for security reasons.

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