Diverse challenges ahead for missionaries
    October 15 2009 by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press

    DENVER — Joe Beckler and wife Cheri are on a mission field where people are skeptical, even suspicious, of Christianity.

    “Many of them have alternate lifestyles. How do you present the gospel to people who have great disdain for the gospel? Many people here view Christianity with great suspicion,” said Beckler, a missionary who is working to start churches in Denver.

    “Their worldview is complicated.”

    Photo by John Swain

    Joe Beckler and wife Cheri, church planting missionaries in Denver, were among the 119 missionaries and chaplains commissioned by the North American Mission Board at Applewood Baptist Church in Denver.


    Sharing Christ with such people often is contingent upon building relationships. “Life is our best tool. Calling yourself a Christ-follower gets attention,” Beckler said. “It’s not uncommon here to have someone literally following you. You have to show them the way to Christ through daily life.”

    The Becklers were two of the 119 missionaries and chaplains commissioned by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) Oct. 5 at Applewood Baptist Church in Denver. The mission field they face reflects the growing diversity of ministry by NAMB missionaries as North America’s population grows increasingly diverse and complex.

    “We are a diverse culture. The world has come to our front door,” NAMB’s interim president, Richard Harris, told the missionaries. “And that’s the reason we need missionaries and chaplains going out to the front lines and representing us.”

    The group who were commissioned in Denver reflect the diversity of the mission field — and those who are going to that field, including:
    • Prasad and Vandana Aghamkar, who minister in the south Asian Indian and Nepali communities of Louisville, Ky.
    • Ken and Thurleen Bain, who work among Native Americans in Arizona.
    • Chuy and Maria Avila, who are reaching Hispanics in Laredo, Texas.
    • Jali and Sundus Dawood, who minister to the Arabic community in Dallas.
    • Harold and Barbara Lunsford, who work among oilfield workers in Wyoming.
    • Pedro and Dionisia Escobar, who reach out to Latinos in New Mexico.
    All of these missionaries work through state convention partners to most effectively link national and local strategy and maximize efficient use of Southern Baptist resources.

    Vivek Arora, as a young man living in India, had a dream that he would find a book someday that would answer all his questions, and that he would be instrumental in bringing people together in a way that they could live in harmony. He discovered that book years later when he came to faith in Christ while reading a Hindi translation of the Bible. As for people living in harmony, he believes the Great Commission is God’s plan for that.

    Today, Vivek and his wife Manisha are church planting missionaries in Boston, ministering in the international community that has come from around the world to one of America’s great cities.

    “We are reaching out to international students and professionals,” Vivek said. “Many come here from their countries for two or three years. If we can reach them for Christ, the impact will be greatly multiplied when they return to their home countries.”

    Harris told the missionaries and chaplains that, in being sent to challenging mission fields, much is expected of them.

    “Be evangelistic,” Harris said. “We’re not looking for you to go out there and help us shuffle around church members. We want you to go out there and take the gospel to people, let the Holy Spirit work in their lives and transform them into new creatures in Christ.”

    Mark Edlund, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention who served in Asia as a Southern Baptist missionary for 17 years, thanked NAMB for its partnership in Colorado missions.

    “Welcome to this mission field we call Colorado,” Edlund said. “I am so thankful to NAMB for what they do for Colorado.”

    Edlund said NAMB provides at least partial funding for the work of 49 missions personnel in Colorado and for another 86 self-funded Mission Service Corps missionaries commissioned by NAMB who serve in the state.

    Others participating in the commissioning service were Applewood’s senior pastor, Calvin Wittman; NAMB trustee chairman Tim Patterson; Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director Wanda Lee; and Bob Ryan, director of missions for Denver’s Mile High Baptist Association.

    Harris encouraged the missionaries not to be distracted by things that might derail them from ministry. He specifically addressed the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force which is considering, among other things, recommending changes in how NAMB functions.

    “If there’s one thing that Southern Baptists love, it’s their missionaries and their chaplains,” Harris said. “You do what God has called you to do and leave the rest to Him. Southern Baptists will take care of you.”

    Harris ended with a challenge: “Go out of here tonight with a new zeal and a renewed belief that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. You’re going to meet some tough cookies. You’re going to meet some people who are mixed up in their theology, their mindset and their worldview. Don’t let it deter you, hinder you or discourage you. Present the truth. Present the gospel and depend on the Holy Spirit to work through your life.”

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Ebert is communications team leader at the North American Mission Board.)
    10/15/2009 4:24:00 AM by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press | with 5 comments




Comments
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This is inspiring. Having challenges always result in taking some concrete decisions that help in change that is the only permanent this on this earth. I feel presenting the truth is most essential in spite of having diverse opinions and opposing comments. Thanks for sharing some good insights. Thanks
11/1/2009 11:10:11 PM

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I posted your blog to my facebook group


Regards

Diaz
10/20/2009 6:53:24 AM

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When is the next post comming on this topic.


Regards

Fresh
10/19/2009 3:14:36 AM

Gene Scarborough
If this kind of attitude and challenge had been part of our Agency for more years, there would be no problem.

Instead, we have been given 2 recent Execs chosen by their mega-church buddies who only knew how to lord it over their fellow Agency workers. It caused nothing but strife. Worse, thousands of mission dollars were wasted on Executive hubris and a fancy NAMB campus so far removed from the Atlanta Airport it is rediculous.

What was wrong with the Spring Street location--except that street people were walking by daily? That doesn't happen in affluent Roswell! Just quadruple cab fare from the airport because we have plenty of money to waste!
10/16/2009 10:52:58 AM

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I wish all the best to Joe Beckler and Cheri.
10/15/2009 10:52:35 AM

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