Nine Texans head to international mission field; IMB trustees meet
February 22nd, 2021 / By: Sue Sprenkle / comments
GLEN ALLEN, Va.—The scene was simple but God used it to speak to Charles and Greta* and changed their lives forever.
Picture this: A woman stood in a remote African village with a basket. A fresh harvest of grain sat at her feet. She just finished threshing and pulling out the grain—all by hand. She placed the grain in her basket and tossed it in the air. The chaff floated off to the side as the good grain fell back to the basket.
“It was a visual picture of God separating the wheat from the chaff,” Charles explained. “Our hearts were broken as we realized first-hand the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
The Texas couple were among 33 missionaries appointed by the IMB Feb. 3 to go to the nations and share the gospel. The virtual sending celebration was streamed from Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Virginia. Twelve states were represented by the newly appointed missionaries, serving in eight of IMB’s nine affinities. Four Texans—Charles and Greta and Matt and Chelsea Bowen—were part of this February Send Celebration.
Five other Texans were sent in a similar November celebration—Aaron and Olivia Bragg,* Hayley Jones* and Elliott and Sara Watkins*.
Charles and Greta did not use their real names as part of the event due to security issues surrounding the place and people they will work with. They will serve among the Sub-Saharan peoples. It’s an area that the IMB said has 19,133 people die each day without Christ.
“We are going to Sub-Saharan Africa to evangelize the lost and equip local believers,” Greta said.
Matt and Chelsea Bowen will head to the Americas for their new ministry opportunity. They are being sent by their home church, Cana Baptist in Burleson. IMB President Paul Chitwood told the virtual audience that he was grateful for the support of all Southern Baptist churches. Through these churches, the IMB is able to send and sustain missionaries serving all around the world. For the Bowens, Cana Baptist helped pave the way for their call to the nations.
Matt explained that they moved to Texas to go to seminary. They knew they were called to ministry but had no idea what that would look like. Through opportunities and interactions at their church and seminary, they found a passion to reach people of different nations with the gospel.
Chelsea excitedly added, “Now we get the privilege to live and work among the [Americas] people. We will have the opportunity to be a witness to them daily.”
Every IMB missionary works among a designated people group, a population of people who share a language, history or culture. The IMB has categorized the world into nine major affinity groups, a collection of people groups with a shared culture and often a shared language.
All five Texas missionaries sent during the November celebration are serving among affinities and people groups that do not allow them to use their real names due to security. Hayley Jones will work among the European peoples. Elliott and Sara will serve among the North African and Middle East peoples. Aaron and Olivia Bragg will work in East Asia.
The Braggs will use medical and business skills to open doors. Aaron recalled that when they went off to college, they both openly pursued the “vision of the American dream.”
“We desired to make a name for ourselves and to be successful by the world’s definition of success,” he admitted.
Discipleship through a college ministry took hold of their lives. Olivia said through that, the Lord revealed his desire for the couple to make his name known among all people.
“Now, we will use my medical skills and Aaron’s business skills to gain access to people who have never heard the gospel,” she added.
Available job positions for each affinity were shown after the individual missionary testimonies during the virtual celebration. Positions available include a missions mobilizer for the European affinity, a media strategist for the Central Asian Affinity and a church planter for the Deaf affinity.
Chitwood concluded February’s Sending Celebration with a challenge and encouragement. He asked those watching to consider their role in fulfilling the Great Commission and offered thanks for Southern Baptists’ partnership in sending the 33 missionaries commissioned.” The IMB hopes to mobilize 500 missionaries by the year 2025 in partnership with local churches.
Visit imb.org/send to learn how churches can send missionaries like these nine Texans. Downloadable missionary prayer cards are also available.
*Name changed due to security
The IMB also contributed to this article.