Durham couple preps for Slovakia
    November 19 2010 by Don Graham, Baptist Press

    Excuses were flowing through Jason Palmer’s mind as quickly as the rain dripping through his tent: I won’t make enough money. I don’t know enough theology. I don’t want to live overseas. My parents will be upset. I can’t learn a new language.

    It was 1996, and Palmer, then a high school freshman, had come to Nicaragua with his youth group to raise a building for a poor, rural church near Managua. But instead of working, he’d spent the afternoon stuck inside a leaky tent, reading his Bible, while the team waited out a tropical storm parked off of Nicaragua’s coast.

    It was Palmer’s first mission trip, first airplane ride and first time outside the United States. That afternoon was also the first time he understood God’s purpose for his life.

    “As I was reading, I just remember hearing this small voice inside of me saying, ‘You’re going to be doing this for the rest of your life. You’re going to go out and tell others around the world about Me,’” Palmer said. “I’ll be honest, it scared me.”

    Little did he know that after wrestling with that call for the next 14 years, Palmer, 29, and his wife Charity, 24, eventually would find themselves among a group of 57 new missionaries appointed by International Mission Board (IMB) trustees Nov. 10.

    The Palmers and others relayed their missions calling during an appointment service that evening at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

    “I’m glad I listened to that voice and that it was persistent that long because I wonder how many other people hear that voice and just keep denying it,” said Palmer, youth minister of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham. “It’s like this internal battle inside of my head; I’ve got my doubts and my fears and then I know what God has said to be true. I know I have to be obedient.”

    Charity and Jason couldn’t resist the call anymore.

    “If we were to stay here any longer we would be disobedient,” Jason said. “That’s not what being a Christian is.”

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Charity and Jason Palmer share a moment during a time of dedication at Calvary Baptist Church’s International Mission Board commissioning service Nov. 10 in Winston-Salem. The Palmers, who currently live in Durham, will be serving in Slovakia. See photo gallery.

    Charity said it was in college when the fire started to burn for missions. She served in Louisiana with Katrina relief efforts. Her sophomore year she spent in Spain studying. It was there that Charity saw the need for Christ.

    Jason plans to leave his position in December before the couple goes to the IMB training center in Richmond.

    By the end of March, they should be in Slovakia, where Jason proposed to Charity.

    The couple started the application process last year and because she did not want to disrupt the school year, Charity did not go back to the school where she teaches this fall.

    In Bible times, people had to step into the water before the waters parted.

    “The safest place is in God’s will,” Jason said, but that also involves a lot of unknowns. “It’s not easy.”

    The couple will celebrate their second anniversary in December.

    Looking at Durham County, there are 100 churches, Jason said, but Slovakia’s considered unreached because less than two percent of the population is evangelical.

    There are only six evangelistic churches there; three of which are Baptist. All are dying.

    “There’s a huge need overseas,” he said. “It’s really hard, hard soil.”

    While there Jason will be working as a church planter while Charity spends time with college girls they’ve already met through previous mission trips. There are eight universities with around 70,000 students in their vicinity.

    Jason and Charity have seen other friends start the process but not make it through.

    “The further we got in the process the more thankful we are for Southern Baptists,” said Jason, who’s also thankful for his church.

    The application process is grueling and exciting.

    “You’ve only got the grace of God and that’s it,” Jason said. “It’s a humbling thing.”

    To find out more about Jason and Charity, visit www.jandcpalmer.blogspot.com.

    The Palmers will soon leave their North Carolina home to share the gospel and start churches in Slovakia, a Central European country of 5.8 million people. The IMB’s Global Research Department estimates that less than 2 percent of its population is evangelical Christian. Other missionaries appointed that evening have North Carolina ties as well, including two couples from Calvary. But security issues require their anonymity.

    For Charity’s parents Franklin and Elizabeth Lawson of Sandy Ridge Baptist Church in Hickory, it’s hard to see them go, “but we wouldn’t stand in the way of them going to share the gospel,” Elizabeth Lawson said.

    Jason’s mother Rose Ann Palmer of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, remembers his mission trip to Nicaragua and how he came back changed. Palmer and her husband Donnie have tried to emphasize missions by taking family missions trips together.  

    More appointments
    In September, an appointment service was held at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla. Hickory native Allison McClure was appointed along with her husband, David Brian McClure. The McClures will be serving as apprentice evangelism/church planters among European peoples. Russell Wayne II and Jennifer Elizabeth Ford were also appointed to serve among European peoples. Russell was the associate pastor of Somerset Baptist Church in Roxboro. At this Sept. 15 service, there were also four Code 3 couples and one single unit with N.C. connections that cannot be identified for security reasons.  

    President’s address
    Clyde Meador, interim IMB president, addressed the new missionaries at the appointment service, noting that they came from a myriad of personal and professional backgrounds but had now been united for a common purpose. Daniel Seagram flew Seahawk helicopters for the Navy. Other former occupations include engineer, nurse, mailman, graphic designer, kindergarten teacher, fireman and computer programmer.

    “From before the day you were born, this has been His purpose, this is His plan,” Meador said. “You have been set aside, you have been consecrated. Not simply by the International Mission Board, but by the Lord God Almighty, the God of the universe. He is the one who has called you. And your task is to be a prophet to the nations. And the nations need to hear what you have to say.”

    Meador spoke about the urgent need for missionaries, emphasizing the 6,600-plus unevangelized people groups around the world — as many as 1.5 billion people — most of whom have little or no access to the gospel.

    “You go to destroy false beliefs. You go to destroy false idols. You go to destroy hopelessness,” Meador said. Comparing the new missionaries to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, Meador also warned them that their work wouldn’t be easy.

    “I recently read again ... through the entire Book of Jeremiah, and I cannot remember a moment when his task was easy. It was always difficult. Was he successful? He was obedient. He was faithful. That was God’s call on his life. That’s God’s call on your life,” Meador said.

    Like new missionary Jason Palmer, Meador challenged those in the audience to consider the excuses they may be using to fight God’s call to take the gospel overseas in person.

    “How about the rest of you here tonight?” Meador asked. “What are your reasons for saying, ‘Not me.’ “Jeremiah’s reason … was that he was ‘but a youth.’ … Your reasons might be different. … But God’s response to those reasons is simply, ‘Don’t tell Me about it. I don’t want to hear that.’ The point is not your qualifications. The point is His enabling. The point is His strength, which matches your weakness.”

    The IMB honored seven of the new missionaries at a commissioning service Nov. 16 at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. The commissioning was held in observance of the university’s 100th anniversary and in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention. The IMB’s next missionary appointment service is scheduled for March 16 at First Baptist Church in Dallas.  

    In a Nov. 10 trustee meeting in Greensboro, trustees adopted a 2011 budget of $308.5 million, $9.1 million less than 2010’s budget. While many missionary positions remain unfilled, IMB trustees appointed 57 new missionaries.

    “We are still sending new personnel, contrary to rumors that we sometimes hear,” said Meador, noting that the missionary force has been reduced solely by sending fewer replacement personnel when there are retirements, resignations or completed terms.

    “We look forward to a day when financial support reaches the point when we can increase the number of new personnel being sent to the field each year,” Meador said.

    Trustees also heard reports of spiritual victories led by Southern Baptist missionaries and Baptist partners on the field.

    In 2009, IMB missionaries reported 360,876 baptisms, 29,237 new churches and 96 newly engaged people groups.

    These new numbers, Meador noted, usher in a more focused approach to reporting the IMB’s missionary work.

    The organization’s annual report is now separated into two reports, with the numbers cited by Meador reflecting work by IMB missionaries and those with whom they directly relate.

    Trustees also received a report from 133 overseas Baptist conventions that listed 136,422 baptisms and 2,151 new churches. This report could show some overlap with the IMB report.

    For the third consecutive year, IMB trustees adopted a decreased budget from the previous year’s budget.

    Though the IMB pulled $7.5 million from its reserves to balance the budget last year, the trustee finance committee was committed to not repeating that move.

    According to IMB officials, the mission board is sending about 30 percent fewer long-term personnel than would be sent if there were no financial constraints. The IMB still anticipates sending 300 new long-term personnel and 200 to 250 new short-term personnel in 2011.

    As Cooperative Program dollars continue to slip, trustees focused on ways they also could cut costs in the stateside budget, which accounts for a little less than 15 percent of the overall budget, Fowler said. The IMB recently offered qualifying staff members in Richmond, Va., a voluntary retirement incentive to take effect by the end of 2010.

    In other business, trustees heard a report of $2,063,474.46 released for hunger and general relief projects, including funds used by Baptist Global Response, a relief and development organization that partners with the IMB.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Graham is a writer for the International Mission Board. BR Assistant Managing Editor Dianna L. Cagle contributed to this report.)
    11/19/2010 5:47:00 AM by Don Graham, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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