The new president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board affirmed the partnership between the Northwest Baptist Convention and the IMB’s largest group of workers in Asia, noting the “significant, hands-on investment” NWBC churches are making.
“We continue to see tremendous impact in [the region] and praise God for those who, like our partnering convention of churches, are multiplying impact as they work alongside, pray and give,” Paul Chitwood told Randy Adams, NWBC executive director, after reviewing a 10-page report highlighting results of the partnership on IMB work in Asia.
Chitwood became IMB president last November and is the 13th president of the entity which sends and supports about 3,600 global workers worldwide. More than 100 of those are from NWBC-affiliated congregations, estimates Adams.
The NWBC’s formal partnership with IMB workers began in early 2015. The convention has record of about 300-400 volunteers from 70 Northwest Baptist churches participating in various efforts in Asia, according to Adams.
They have assisted IMB workers with multiple projects in various countries and among people groups with little access to the Gospel message or among groups previously “unengaged” by it. Some projects involve small groups of volunteers from individual churches, while others require more significant numbers from numerous churches working cooperatively.
Providing opportunities for individual churches to build long-term partnerships is part of the strength of a formal NWBC-IMB partnership, noted Adams. He estimated at least 30 teams from local churches have traveled to Asia to assist various IMB efforts. Most of those teams have either “adopted” and city, a team of IMB workers or a people group needing to be reached, Adams said.
“We have NWBC churches engaged with workers to reach groups who come from a variety of belief systems and religious traditions,” he noted. “At least two churches have focused on areas in (an undisclosed nation) where no workers live.”
A major component in partnership projects is providing logistical and staff support for the large conferences for IMB workers. Those periodic retreats are opportunities for IMB personnel in the affinity group to gather from the dozens of locales in which they work — some of them isolated from other personnel — for training, strategic planning, support, encouragement and fellowship.
In 2016, more than 160 volunteers from 32 churches played key roles in the first major affinity group conference in several years. In 2018, 50 volunteers from 10 churches helped staff a leadership retreat for IMB workers in Asia.
Another 100-plus Northwest Baptist volunteers have participated in training for the affinity conference this summer. “God’s blessing is both the fuel and the resource we need to get this job done,” said Adams during a mid-March orientation for the group.
In addition to supporting the conferences for IMB workers, the partnership helps organize vision trips for pastors and church leaders that foster specific partnerships between local NWBC churches and workers in various locales. More than 40 Northwest pastors have taken part in those ventures abroad.
“Dozens of churches have gotten directly involved in international missions with IMB personnel that had never before been engaged,” said Adams. “The partnership has provided a focus and a common missions experience for our churches.”
Adams believes connecting churches to such uniting global purpose strengthens both the local churches and the larger convention.
“The partnership has demonstrated the importance of the NWBC to our churches, and the entire cooperative system of the Southern Baptist Convention, because they have seen that without convention leadership, they could never have done international missions in the way they have,” he said.
That plays out in various scenarios.
Chong Kim, who works with the NWBC as an evangelism and church health catalyst for Asian churches, helped lead a team of Korean pastors from the Northwest on a vision trip to Japan in order to survey opportunities for partnership with IMB personnel and Baptist churches throughout the country.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press