“Because many will say they are willing to go…

…but are actually planning to stay, I will go.” That was the response tonight from one of the missionary candidates who was presented for commissioning at the IMB Commissioning Service. I was stopped in my tracks by that phrase. The service was a powerful reminder to me of a number of issues.

1. It was a reminder of the greatness of our task. We have unbelievable numbers of people that need to be reached, and unfortunately we’re really not even keeping up with the growth rate of humanity, let alone pushing back the darkness of sin. We need to be more aware of that.

2. It was a reminder of Southern Baptists’ ability to disagree, and work together in love. I spent time today with a number of IMB trustees, former missionaries and current missionaries with whom I have strongly disagreed over the past year. We were able to join together tonight around the cause of Christ and celebrate what He is doing around the world. I have maintained for some time now that personal interaction is needed in the SBC because it’s much more difficult to attack when you recognize that you’re dealing with an actual person and not just a name on a blog.

3. It was a reminder of how much I sincerely love the IMB, its staff, missionaries and trustees. I know many may think that I don’t because I am, at times, critical on this blog of some of the actions of the trustees, but it’s quite true that in reality I passionately love the IMB and its people. I am hopeful that people don’t see my criticism as personal critiques but rather as an attempt to deal with what I believe to be unhealthy, and unfortunate, situations. As one IMB missionary reminded me tonight, “What unites us is far greater than what divides us.” Amen, I agree.

4. It was a reminder of my own struggle with God’s call. I could use your prayers in this area. I first felt God’s call to international service when I was 15 years old. I surrendered to that call and moved to Burkina Faso with my wife after college. Due to illness we returned home and began pastoring Missouri Valley. Yet in spite of all that, I still struggle with God’s call overseas. What’s most difficult to understand right now is that I feel very called where I am at, and very happy to be where I am at, and yet I still feel (almost daily) God’s push in my heart for the peoples of the world, and particularly West Africa.

So, in conclusion, tonight was better than good – it was amazing. I praise God for the service and I look forward to struggling with Him over His will for my life.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

10 thoughts on ““Because many will say they are willing to go…

  1. Micah,

    It was great to meet you and John last night at the appointment service. Dr. Rankin’s words in his introduction and welcome about this being “the best thing that Southern Baptists do” was right on target. I never cease to be amazed at God’s work in the lives of individuals, calling them to missionary service and their responsiveness to that call. The testimonies last night of those going were outstanding.

    I observed what has been the case I believe at most appointment services in recent years. The great majority (I’d guess 90% or so) of those being appointed had previously participated in international missions either on a short-term trip or as journeymen. There’s no question that seeing and experiencing the lostness of the world firsthand will break your heart and move you to respond, given even a slight amount of sensitivity to the work of God’s Spirit.

    I never did catch sight of Wade last night and was disappointed not to meet him. I rode up to Liberty with 2 couples from our church so I wasn’t free to linger around afterwards quite as long as I would have otherwise. We did mix and mingle for awhile, allowing me to meet with a couple of the RLs who I knew from MLC days in one case and language school in the other.

  2. I too wish we could have visited a bit longer. That probably could have happened had I been able to attend the luncheon as originally planned, but we had a funeral at church at 11:30 yesterday for a dear 99 1/2 year old saint who I’ve been visiting weekly at a local care center for the past couple of years. I really needed to be at the service so opted to skip out on the luncheon.

  3. It was nice to meet you too, Gary.

    The commissioning service was phenomenal… if only every Baptist would have an opportunity (and take the time) to attend one. You can’t help but be inspired by the passion, commitment, and sacrifices of our missionaries, as well as the enormity and importance of the missions task.

  4. Gents, I, too, attended this Spirit-filled service and was encourgeed and refreshed by every word, every prayer, every hymn (or praise chorus), every testimony to God’s glory, every commitment to making Christ known. I did get to linger at the reception awhile and enjoyed:

    —seeing Jerry and Bobbie Rankin,

    —meeting chairman John Floyd,

    —greeting trustee Jim Barnhart from Miner BC in Sikeston,

    —visiting with host pastor Vernon Armitage,

    —hugging missionary Jon Sapp.

    I have known Jon and Priscilla since my Army days at Ft. Riley when they were BSU students under Bob and Sandie Anderson. Now Sapps are regional directors in Africa.

    What a glorious family reunion when we are re-united by love for Christ!

    Sorry I did not get to meet you guys–this time. Will look forward to “next time.”

    Mike Whitehead

  5. You mentioned Berkino Faso!! Our church has a former IMB missionary and his wife leading 9 college students from our church in an extreme Mission trip to Burkino Faso As I speak. they are living in a village for 10 days

  6. Mike-

    Thanks for stopping by. I saw you a few times Wednesday night and almost introduced myself, but you were quickly heading to meet someone, it appeared, so I chose to wait until next time. I’ll look forward to that opportunity.

    Maybe we can meet in San Antonio next month.

  7. David-

    Any idea where in Burkina they are or what people group they are working with? I’d love to know. My heart, in many ways, is still in Burkina.

  8. Micah-

    My son Jon and his wife Aryn are expecting their first child — and my first grandchild– on June 5. If Baby Whitehead tarries, I may not make it to San Antone. If all goes well, I hope to be at the SBC and would love to see you. Is there a bloggers’ booth or gathering spot planned?

  9. Mike-

    I understand. The grandchild takes precedence over everything, or so my parents tell me! 🙂

    Seriously, though, I do not know of a “bloggers booth” etc. but I do know that we will gather a number of times while we are there, although they will be informal gatherings, and we will almost all be in attendance at the Missional Leaders Gathering sponsored by NAMB on Monday evening.

    I’ll be sure to let you know if/when we gather.

    Psalm 67

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