Las Cruces (BNM) - Twenty former International Mission Board missionaries gathered Oct. 22 prior to the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico at Mesilla Park Community Church, Las Cruces.
Bob Butler and his wife Vicky, recently retired IMB missionaries, led missionaries from New Mexico in fellowship, encouragement and prayer. All former missionaries attending the convention wore a yellow ribbon that said “missionary family” in red letters. This is the first time former missionaries from New Mexico have gathered at the state’s annual meeting.
The idea was well received by those in attendance, as well as several former missionaries who could not make it to the event. The event provided a place for former missionaries to share stories of service with others who have been through similar experiences. While missionaries appreciate the support of their local churches, this type of event provides much needed camaraderie for missionaries and their families.
During the meeting, attendees compiled a list of names and contact information of missionaries from across the state. The list will allow the group to stay in touch and pray for one another. It will also provide churches with a directory of men and women with missionary experience. Butler said that many churches want this kind of resource but don’t how find it. The directory will make it easy for churches to contact former missionaries who can help pastors educate their churches on the importance of international mission work.
The group desires to mobilize New Mexico churches and equip them with the tools they need to support missionaries. This includes promoting programs like the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which supports IMB mission work.
Butler said he is interested in developing long-term partnerships between missionaries and churches. In this type of partnership, a church would send a short-term mission team to the missionary’s place of service to assist them with projects, evangelism, and other needs.
The group also hopes to develop a support network for New Mexico missionaries currently serving internationally and those preparing to return home. The network would help returning missionaries readjust to life in the United States.
Butler said the group plans to meet again during the New Mexico Evangelism Conference at Sandia Baptist Church, Albuquerque, Feb. 25-26, 2019.