IMB on firm financial ground, ready to ‘start increasing’ number of missionaries

The International Mission Board (IMB) is in a stable financial position, “setting the stage” to send more missionaries to share the gospel, IMB President David Platt reported to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Phoenix on June 13.

“We take seriously our responsibility and stewardship from the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to our cooperative mission efforts,” Platt assured messengers. “And especially in light of Cooperative Program giving (going) up, I want to thank you and continue to encourage pastors across this room to engage in the entire ecosystem of the Southern Baptist Convention — all of us working together.

“There is no question that the IMB is able to do what it does as a result of every facet of the SBC, from local churches to associations to state conventions, and all the entities we partner with,” he said.

Platt thanked Southern Baptists for increased giving to the Cooperative Program and approximately $153 million given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. He noted IMB no longer uses property sales for operations and that the mission board’s reserves are funded at appropriate levels.

“In other words the IMB is healthy financially, and what that means is, the stage is now set for Southern Baptists to stop decreasing and start increasing the number of missionaries we have serving around the world,” Platt reported to applause.

“And so in the same moment that we thank Southern Baptists for their giving, in the next breath we exhort Southern Baptists to give all the more — generously and sacrificially in the days ahead.”

Platt highlighted a redesigned online site, created to help churches of every size send more men and women around the world on missions trips and as members of missionary teams.

Hundreds of current missionaries sent Twitter-length reports to share with messengers how they are seeing God at work around the world, with messengers hearing a number of them such as:

• In one country, they’re training 25 mixed-background believers as church planters through an underground Bible school in a highly persecuted context.

• In Eastern Europe the Bible has now been translated and printed in the Udmurt language for the first time in history.

• They saw the first church ever started among a Muslim people in sub-Saharan Africa.

• In North Africa, they trained up and sent out a small group of new believers to a country hundreds of miles away. Those believers have now planted 20 churches with more than 220 people baptized.

• One couple with kids said that after two and a half years in North Africa and the Middle East, their family has shared the gospel with more than 800 people in the people’s heart language, Arabic.

Daily discipleship

“This is the work of the IMB,” Platt said. “And this is happening every single day. … Disciples are being made, churches are being planted, pastors are being trained and missionaries are being sent from the nations to the nations. And ultimately, God is being glorified among people and entire people groups who until now had never heard the name of Jesus.

“This is the work of the IMB and, Southern Baptists, I want to call us to send limitless more missionaries to do that work all around the world.”

And during a June 12 meeting, IMB trustees approved the appointment of 31 missionaries, who were appointed during a Sending Celebration (commissioning service) on June 13. The celebration service included a time of prayer over the newly appointed missionaries. (BP)