FBC Montgomery part of IMB’s ‘Embrace’ success; 3,400 more churches neededcomment (0)
June 28, 2012
What will it cost to be Jesus’ heart, hands and voice to a lost and dying world? Absolutely everything. That was the challenge from International Mission Board (IMB) President Tom Elliff June 20 to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in New Orleans.
“The bigger question is, are you willing to pay the price? Because Jesus said it’s going to cost you everything. Everything you are and everything you hope to be,” he said.
Elliff reported on the progress of IMB’s Embrace challenge, issued at the 2011 SBC in Phoenix, where he called on Southern Baptist churches to claim responsibility for evangelizing all of the world’s then 3,800 unreached, unengaged people groups (UUPGs).
“You stepped up to the plate,” Elliff told messengers, reporting that 1,281 Southern Baptist churches and entities have indicated an interest in embracing a UUPG. Of that number, 474 churches and entities have also taken steps to go deeper in that commitment.
“It means some of you are taking this really seriously, and you’re saying we want to count the cost, we want to see what’s involved,” Elliff said. “We welcome you to the field, we rejoice that you’ve taken up this mantle and we praise God that the Kingdom is being expanded because of your involvement.”
Jay Wolf, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, spoke about the dramatic success his congregation has already witnessed through their Embrace experience. First, Montgomery, is committed to sharing Jesus with the Ejamat people of Senegal, West Africa, a UUPG of about 3,000 with no known believers.
The church sent its first team in mid-March looking for a “person of peace” who would help them gain entry into the Ejamat community. But God gave them more than they bargained for.
“We shared the gospel and 27 people from this animistic group embraced Christ as their Savior,” Wolf said. Then during First, Montgomery’s, second trip to Senegal in April, Wolf said they witnessed the birth of a new church — a first among the Ejamat.
“It was a dynamic experience, as if we had stepped into the pages of Acts chapter 16,” Wolf said. Eight more Ejamat followed Jesus, and by the trip’s end, 19 had been baptized.
“To be baptized in that culture is drawing a line in the sand, it’s turning your back on many of your family members,” Wolf said.
Today there are at least 35 believers among the Ejamat and a pastor — all in less than a year’s time. “If an old downtown church like First Baptist, Montgomery, can rise up and embrace an unreached people group ... you can do it too. That’s the simple truth,” Wolf said. “If 3,400 of our churches would step up and embrace one of these people groups, what would happen?”
Elliff told the story of William Borden, an American missionary who walked away from his family’s fortune to spread the gospel among Muslims in China. But during language school in Cairo, 25-year-old Borden contracted meningitis and died in 1913 before ever reaching his missions field.
Borden’s Bible was found and returned to his parents. Inside the book, he had written the words “No reserve” and “No retreat,” referring to his decision to eschew his family’s multi-million-dollar fortune. The words “No regrets” were also inscribed in the Bible, dated shortly before his death in Egypt.
“Your life is a blip on the radar screen of eternity. How do you plan to spend the balance of your life?” Elliff asked. “1.7 billion [of the world’s people] could very likely die without ever having heard the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s it going to cost? It’s going to cost everything. No reserves. No retreats. ... No regrets.”
To view a video related to this story, visit the video library.