ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) – Joseph Bunce, executive director and lead missionary for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, returned from a week-long mission trip to Slovenia in May.
Bunce partnered with an International Mission Board couple, Randy and Joan Bell, and met with a group of four from Eastern New Mexico University. He mentioned two primary reasons he traveled to Slovenia. First, he said, he went in response to the BCNM’s goal to have 50% of churches involved in long-term partnerships with international missionaries, and the best way to encourage churches to achieve this is to set the example. “If you ask someone to do something, you should [be willing to] do it yourself,” he said. He wanted to show New Mexico congregations how to be “goers,” and not just givers. Second, he said, he was focused on doing his part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
An observation he gleaned from the trip was that “[people] are more willing to listen than believers are willing to share.” In light of that, he encouraged believers to “take the risk,” “take the time,” overcome fear and share the Gospel abroad and in their hometowns. “You don’t have to be a professional,” he said. “You just have to be willing.”
He said he was concerned at first that there would be a language barrier, but he discovered instead that most of the younger population spoke English. He also noticed several similarities between New Mexico and Slovenia. For instance, some rural areas of Slovenia had no churches or Gospel presence at all – much like some rural areas in New Mexico.
According to Bunce, Slovenia is about 1/6 the size of New Mexico in terms of landmass. They also both have similar sized populations. Only about 1,500 people are evangelical Christians in Slovenia. Because of the country’s lostness, Bunce encouraged churches to pray that God would protect the missionaries currently in Slovenia. They are under “serious peer pressure” since they comprise such a small amount of the population. Second, he encouraged churches to pray for the people of Slovenia to sense their need for salvation.