by Ann Lovell
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — For 175 years, Southern Baptists have not failed to have a witness among the nations, International Mission Board (IMB) president Paul Chitwood told home office staff and field personnel this week. This year marks the 175th anniversary of Southern Baptist mission work around the world.
To commemorate this significant milestone, IMB announced a 175th anniversary campaign. Throughout 2020, IMB will share stories and videos that recognize the movement of God among the nations and honor those who have followed His call to pray, give and go.
Highlights of the campaign include:
— Short stories, videos and photos on IMB’s social media channels, beginning in January;
— An interactive timeline on the IMB website, featuring missionary vignettes and short videos of IMB’s work by decade, launched in May;
— A photo book containing IMB photographs and stories of God’s movement among the nations throughout its history, released in May; and
— An interactive experience at IMB’s booth at the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando in June to allow visitors to walk through 175 years of IMB history.
Prayer is also foundational to the campaign. IMB’s “175 days of prayer” begins May 11 and will culminate with IMB’s week of prayer for international missions from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6. In preparation, IMB is seeking to enlist at least 1,750 prayer advocates who will commit to pray for specific IMB requests. Each day will feature one request sent as a push notification from the IMB Pray app, accessed at imb.org/pray or the Pray Daily newsletter, or seen through IMB’s social media channels. To register as a prayer advocate, visit: http://imb.org/175.
In launching the campaign, Chitwood acknowledged the cooperative effort required by Southern Baptists to focus on achieving the vision of Revelation 7:9 of a “vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language.”
“Since 1888, Southern Baptists have given approximately $4.7 billion to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” Chitwood said. “Since the introduction of the Cooperative Program in 1925, Southern Baptists have contributed almost $3.6 billion to international missions through that initiative.”
As a result of this level of cooperative praying, giving, going and sending, Southern Baptists have sent almost 25,000 missionaries to the nations since 1845. These missionaries have served in 189 countries and represent 228,000 years of service.
Although these stories and statistics are worth celebrating, Chitwood acknowledged that the SBC and the IMB began “in sin and brokenness.”
“In 1845, our legacy began in sin and brokenness as Baptists in the South separated from the northern churches over slavery,” Chitwood said. “Only God’s redeeming love and the reconciling power of the Gospel could result not only in repentance, but in a convention of churches today that is among the most diverse in the world and whose membership includes thousands of African American churches and many other ethnicities. That diversity, from such a regretful beginning, causes this celebration of what God is doing through Southern Baptists to be even more joyous.”
Chitwood continued, “Each generation of Southern Baptists has answered the call to cooperative missions and given their prayers and support to their IMB missionaries. Today, those missionaries continue to journey into difficult and spiritually impoverished places on earth to sow seeds of love and truth and enable the lost to know the saving grace of Jesus.”
“The stories of our past should propel us forward in our commitment to His work with a great sense of urgency,” Chitwood said. “As we look back on 175 years of witness among the nations, may we be inspired and challenged like never before to pray, give, go and send.”
Watch a video retrospective of IMB’s 175 years:
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.