LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) hosted Terry Sharp, convention and network relations leader for the International Mission Board (IMB), during the ABSC’s monthly general staff meeting.
“We are excited about what God’s doing in Arkansas,” said Sharp. “We are so grateful for you, so grateful for your churches and grateful for all that you are doing around the world. Thank you for the way that you pray and you give and you go so people can have the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus.”
Sharp gave an update of the mission work being done internationally and nationally.
According to Sharp, baptisms reported to the IMB increased by 6,000 in 2018, and the number of IMB church plants has tripled. More than 150 unengaged and unreached people groups in East Asia have been engaged, and more than 100 East Asian people groups now have access to Scriptures and resources in their languages. Chinese churches in partnership with the IMB have seen more than 100 short-term mission teams engage with 33 unreached people groups. Dispersed Venezuela believers are planting churches and joining the work of IMB missionaries throughout South and Central America. IMB missionaries are ministering to Syrian refugees, and they see the refugees responding to the gospel.
“The IMB really does believe that every church can reach every nation,” said Sharp. “That’s more than just a theme. That’s the heartbeat of what we are about. Every church has a vital role in taking the gospel to every nation.”
Sharp presented the “diaspora” mission opportunity available in North America, and the work IMB and the North American Mission Board is doing. Diaspora refers to the dispersion of people groups from their original homelands.
“We want people to go out here to Little Rock and get on a plane and go to the nations because we need to go and we need to take the gospel,” said Sharp. “But we also encourage people who have a heart for missions and who have a heart for the nations to go out to the airport and welcome the planes and welcome the nations because God is sending the nations to us.
“We have refugees in this country, and we have immigrants who are living next door. We have international students – over a million – coming to the United States every single year,” said Sharp. “And many of these immigrants, many of these refugees, many of these international students are coming from the least reached areas of the world, and we have a chance to love them.”
Even if the people never return back to their countries, gospel conversations can flow back to the unreached countries through communications with their family and friends, said Sharp.
To assist with diaspora missions, Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) has created welcomingthenations.com to help connect collegiate ministries and churches to international student ministries and provide resources.
The IMB has also created peoplegroups.info to help churches discover and visualize people groups living in North America. According to Sharp, 360 unreached people groups have migrated to the United States. Jamie Naramore, international church strategist for the ABSC, said there are 75 unreached or unengaged people groups in Arkansas alone.
“We have a chance to show them the love of Jesus and share the love of Jesus,” said Sharp. “We are seeing some incredible things take place.”
Sharp also announced upcoming events happening in 2020, including the Reaching the Nations in North America conference, which will be in Dallas, and the Every Church, Every Nation conference, which will be in Houston.
Contact Sarah Davis at email@example.com.