Editor’s Note: The International Mission Board recently initiated Church Connections to facilitate connections between IMB missionaries and churches who do not have direct contact with a missionary. Church Connections efforts began in 2020 with a pilot involving 10% of IMB’s missionaries. April 5 was the official launch of Church Connections. Nine hundred missionaries have since been assigned 22,000 churches to contact. It is estimated that by the middle of 2022, every Southern Baptist church will receive a personal contact from a missionary.
My family’s involvement in Church Connections has provided opportunities for mutually beneficial relationships to be formed between our family and Southern Baptist churches. Through these new relationships, we have been encouraged, prayed over and sent out as we walked through a difficult season of transition to a new field of service in northwest London. As we connected, churches have heard our gratitude for their giving, as well as stories of how their generosity has made an impact around the globe. Most of the churches we have contacted have had no previous connection to the International Mission Board.
One way we connected with Hill Spring Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama (a church in our area), was by joining them in a special project. We heard they were building a family life center and had planned a workday to concentrate on the building’s framing. We saw that as a great opportunity to not only say, but also to demonstrate, our thanks by joining them in swinging hammers and lifting walls.
That morning we shared with several church members about our previous role as church planting strategists in Eastern Europe. During lunch break, we were asked to share a testimony about God’s faithfulness. I expressed gratitude to the church for their partnership and thanked them for how their giving enabled us to go to the mission field.
After lunch, I connected with Hill Spring’s pastor. In the following weeks, I periodically texted him to offer encouragement. One day, he called and told me he needed shoulder surgery, but had held off because he had no one to fill the pulpit. He asked if I would preach for him so he could have that surgery. I welcomed the invitation.
As I preached, I shared our story of God’s faithfulness, how He is working across Europe and how the church’s giving enables that work. After the sermon, many people from the congregation committed to join us in prayer for what God is doing among the nations. Months later, we still receive emails from those church members who continue to faithfully pray for us and our ministry. It is rewarding to have the privilege to express gratitude to churches for their giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®.
The connections we made were not only beneficial for the IMB and our family but also for the churches that faithfully support our work through prayer, giving and going. Making personal contact allowed them the opportunity to put a face and a name with the IMB. And, hearing “Thank you” directly from us makes the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® personal. Those connections encourage their perseverance and commitment to partnership in the Great Commission.