December 2015

Thankful for Southern Baptists support

December 29 2015 by Tim and Charlotte Cearley, IMB missionaries

Hello from Africa!
In these momentous days of International Mission Board (IMB) life, I have often thought of our long-term relationship. After growing up in North Carolina, my wife, Charlotte, and I were appointed as Southern Baptist missionaries through IMB Dec. 7, 1982. (Charlotte is a [preacher’s kid], and has lived in Alabama, Florida and N.C.)
Since that time we have had the privilege of serving the Lord through the IMB in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, and now Senegal. We have planted churches, discipled new believers, trained leaders, helped with human needs projects, and in more recent days tried to multiply ourselves among our personnel through strategy administration.
As we see people asking questions about the decision to offer early retirement to IMB personnel, and as we have worked through the process ourselves, we have again been so thankful for the amazing ways Southern Baptists have organized to support and send missionaries through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Truly, we can be seen as “faith missionaries” since half of our support comes from that once a year offering. Yet, with technology available today, people can give anytime to the IMB on their website:
We are thankful for the Lord’s provision during our 33 years overseas. (I actually have 35 years, since I was a journeyman from 76-78.) And He has provided the extra needed in these last years through property sales and reserve investments.
However, the IMB can only send as many missionaries as Southern Baptists are willing to support. And thus, the current situation. No longer does the giving rate support 5,600 missionaries as we had 10 or so years ago, nor even 4,800 as we have had this year. No, the force overseas must be reduced to around 4,000. And as Southern Baptists we must ask ourselves, “Is this acceptable while thousands of people groups still have no access to the gospel?”
[In this] giving season, we challenge you to dare to ask God what you should set aside as a gift to Him for the work of declaring His Name among the nations.
What gift is worthy of the King of Kings? He is truly worthy of our all. Thank you for helping us serve the Lord through these years overseas. As we step into our life as retired IMB missionaries, we look forward to continuing to support the great calling of Southern Baptists from Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20. We have loved being “your” missionaries. And lest you think we’re something special, remember that in Luke 17:10, Jesus reminds us to say, “We are servants and have only done our duty.”
Tim and Charlotte Cearley
Retiring SBC/IMB missionaries

12/29/2015 11:22:01 AM by Tim and Charlotte Cearley, IMB missionaries | with 0 comments

Meeting missionaries makes a difference

December 1 2015 by Wayne McAllester, Lexington, N.C.

Having read your article (in the Nov. 21 issue) regarding the Cooperative Program’s (CP) strengths and weaknesses, I am moved to add my thoughts. Primarily, I agree with “George” as I spent 44 years pastoring churches outside the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). My first eight years were spent in church planting under an independent home mission board. We had to raise our own support by contacting and visiting churches. While this is a vigorous work, the contact with churches brought us into many warm fellowships, often with people or families that may or may not have given financially, but kept in touch, assuring us of their prayers for us.
We kept in touch with all churches that gave to our support and to many that showed interest but did not give financially. This meant sending out letters, which was extra work but kept us in touch with wonderful people, and we were well aware of their prayers for us.
Although our income was lower than many would expect, God never let us down. We never had to go without anything we needed and our four young girls were well dressed, fed and educated. After establishing two churches that are still growing and serving God, we were led of the Lord to an established church. I served as pastor in Virginia (nine year), Indiana (six years) and New York (19 years). In the new churches we planted, we began by teaching the people that the church should give at least 10 percent of their budget to missions.
The established churches were already giving to missions, but some needed to have better communication with their missionaries.
All of our churches were giving closer to 30 percent of their budget to missionaries whom they knew, plus they willingly helped in needful projects the missions or missionaries needed. This is perhaps a reflection of my home church where I grew up where we had a missionary conference every year and other missionaries visiting throughout the year. The result was that many of the young people in our church were touched by the missionary contacts and yielded to the call to serve, going to various fields in the world.
I retired from the pastorate 13 years ago and moved to North Carolina where two of my daughters live. We joined a SBC church and have been active in teaching, singing and substituting in the pulpit as needed. Our pastor preaches the Word well and encourages missions. We have a number of people each year going on mission trips and our people respond well to mission offerings. But we miss the face-to-face communication of missionaries, especially from foreign fields.
Our people do not know what they are missing but we know that if they met and communicated with missionaries personally, it would increase their interest and especially the youth who are taught about missions but need the personal communication. In the last 12 years we have had two North American Mission Board missionaries visit, and we give to their support in small measure. Their visits were to us a breath of fresh air that invigorated our spirits.
I know that CP has worked well and does have great advantages. Missionaries under the SBC have far less economic problems than those under independent churches and mission boards. It would be good experience for SBC missionaries to visit churches and make personal acquaintances that would encourage them as well as the people in the churches.
We are grieved at the reported decreases in missionary giving. We pray for the needs to be met. Thank you for your paper and articles that have been keeping me learning and appreciating the SBC and the Baptist State Convention of N.C. We are thankful to God for all missionaries who are serving Him through the teaching and preaching of the gospel.
Wayne McAllester
Lexington, N.C.

Related Article:

CP's strengths and weaknesses

12/1/2015 12:36:11 PM by Wayne McAllester, Lexington, N.C. | with 0 comments