By Leslie Peacock Caldwell
IMB news office
ORLANDO — International Mission Board trustees approved 56 new fully funded missionaries for appointment during their May 18-19 meeting in Orlando, Fla. The meeting was conducted in conjunction with the Celebration of Emeriti event held every five years to recognize retiring missionaries who have completed their service with the IMB.
New missionaries approved for appointment will be recognized during a Sending Celebration on June 14 at 9:20 a.m. PDT during the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California. Each missionary is crucial to IMB’s goal to send an additional 500 missionaries by 2025. Accounting for missionaries who complete their service, approximately 400 new missionaries are needed each year to meet the strategic objective of growth in the total mission force.
The meeting was opened in prayer by trustee Nate Bishop, second vice president, from Kentucky.
Trustee chairman Chuck Pourciau, from Louisiana, introduced Tom Elliff, who attended the emeriti event with his wife, Diana. Elliff, who served as IMB president from 2011-2014, greeted trustees and commended IMB’s leadership.
“There’s not a meeting of minds and hearts more important than this one,” Elliff said. He thanked trustees and IMB staff for their hard, but eternally significant, work. “My heart safely trusts in you,” he said.
Elliff, who served as a missionary in Zimbabwe, is now a lecturer, facilitator and mentor at the Tom Elliff Center for Missions at Oklahoma Baptist University.
Andy Davis, trustee from North Carolina, prayed for the Elliffs; and for former IMB president Jerry Rankin and his wife, Bobbye, and former EVP Clyde Meador and his wife, Elaine, who were not able to attend.
IMB president Paul Chitwood spoke of his enjoyment of recent meetings with new missionaries, field leadership and trustees. He also celebrated the 800 gathered emeriti, whom he called “heroes of the faith.”
His report continued with highlights of the current state of the IMB:
- The combined totals of IMB’s two primary revenue streams, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® and the Cooperative Program, currently are running more than 14% ahead of last year’s giving, year-to-date.
- The missionary candidate pipeline has quadrupled in the past three years and stands at nearly 1,000 potential future missionaries.
- As reported in the newly released 2021 Annual Statistical Report, the number of people who responded to the gospel, the number of new believers baptized, and the number of new churches planted overseas increased over the previous year.
- IMB has fully funded its commitment to emeriti benefits with the necessary $128 million.
- Leaders in South Asia report a spiritual awakening among Hindus turning away from false gods to the one true gospel.
- Through Send Relief, IMB’s compassion ministry partnership with the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptists have given $10,941,234.90 to date toward Ukrainian relief efforts.
Chitwood also reported on other significant investments of the IMB, including: Church Connections, the strategy to connect every Southern Baptist church with a missionary; growth of the ministry advancement team to build relationships with individual givers; Go Method, a volunteer screening process for volunteers; GO IMPACT, the student-sending pathway; a newly structured mobilization team; and a new marketing and communications department to elevate IMB’s brand. Chitwood announced that a new IMB brand would be launched at the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, in June.
Chitwood concluded by sharing the updated number from IMB’s Global Research team that 157,690 people currently die daily without Christ.
“More people will die lost today than on any other day upon which the sun has risen in human history,” Chitwood said. “Yet to this problem, the world’s greatest problem — the problem of spiritual lostness — God has given us a solution. We are stewards of the good news of His gospel. And through a sustained missionary presence, we are taking that gospel to the very ends of the earth. And we are doing it together.”
Standing committees provided reports regarding administration, global engagement, human resources, LFTT (logistics, finance, technology, travel), mobilization and training. The reports included significant growth in the number of total engagements with Southern Baptist churches and the number of apprentice missionaries. Apprentice missionaries are those serving their first term on the mission field.
Trustee Keith Evans, chair of the administration committee from the Pacific Northwest, led the election of officers for the coming year. Trustees elected the current officers to serve another term. The following officers will serve a consecutive one-year term: Chuck Pourciau of Louisiana, chair; Lisa Lovell of Arkansas, first vice chair; Nate Bishop of Kentucky, second vice chair; and Carol Pfeiffer of Texas, recording secretary.
Chitwood thanked trustees completing their terms of service and affirmed their continuing commitment to reaching the world’s lost with the gospel. Trustees recognized included: Thom Polvogt, Texas; Larry Lambes, Ohio; Michael Cloer, North Carolina; Opie Hurst, Mississippi; Phil Mitchell, Tennessee; Bill Ricketts, Georgia; Cecil Sanders, Alabama; Sam Taylor, New England; and Mike Simmons, Texas.
Pourciau adjourned the meeting with prayer.
The next IMB board of trustees meeting will be Sept. 28-29 in Richmond, Virginia. B&R