CORDOVA — Robert and Maridith Lane knew all about the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering long before they became missionaries with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in 2011.
Both of them have dads who are ministers and both are products of Tennessee Baptist churches.
Lane grew up in Faith Baptist Church, Atoka, where his dad, Bob Lane, was pastor for many years. Bob Lane is now pastor of Keeling Baptist Church, Stanton.
Maridith Lane was reared at Second Baptist Church, Millington (now Crosspointe) where her dad, Phil Wade, was youth pastor. He is now serving in Georgia.
Lane said he had the benefit of growing up in churches where “missions was front and center” and programs such as Mission Friends, Royal Ambassadors, Vacation Bible School and Bible Drill were emphasized.
“We are the product of things Southern Baptists got right,” Lane said during an interview with the Baptist and Reflector during The Summit, held in November at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova.
The Lanes are currently living in Jackson on stateside assignment for two years with their sons, Shepherd, 10, and Roscoe, 7. He is teaching missions courses at Union University.
For the past 10 years, the Lanes have helped start church planting teams, discipled church leaders, done evangelism and helped train new missionaries in Uganda, South Sudan and Chad. “We have lived in some tough places,” he acknowledged, citing civil war and periods of political unrest in places they have served.
“Through these desperate situations, we have seen God’s church becoming increasingly more beautiful, as followers of Christ have responded to God in difficult times,” Lane said. “We have seen the church in Africa flourish, endure and become strong, building a testimony that has permeated not only our lives, but also the lives of the people that we worked with and the teams that we were training.”
What makes churches in Africa strong is their reliance on prayer, Lane said.
“One thing that I really learned from the African church is prayer. For most churches in Africa, the core of their Christian faith is prayer. That’s how they relate to God, communicate with God, hear from God. That’s how they worship God, and that’s how they’re guided by God,” he continued.
Churches in America and Tennessee could learn much from praying African Christians, Lane noted.
The West Tennessee couple is grateful for the support they receive from Southern Baptists.
“When we look at missions globally, the largest support system that God has raised up in our generation is Southern Baptists,” Lane said.
Though God could raise up another denomination to support global missions on a scale comparable to Southern Baptists, so far He has not done so, Lane continued. “It is still on us. Because we have the capacity to send our people to support Baptist work all over the world, we have the responsibility. That is what God has given to us. …
“Right now, in our generation, we have the most amazing opportunity to send our young people to the uttermost parts of the world. We have the capacity to not only support it now, but to support it through the generations.”
Lane observed that Southern Baptists “have taken the gospel into some of the most remote places, into some of the darkest cities, and some of the most difficult ministry environments imaginable. The only way that we are able to do that is not just through the financial support that we get, but also through the prayer support that churches provide.”
He is not only grateful for the prayer support but for how easy it is for missionaries to make their requests known today.
Lane said older missionaries have told him that they would wait for their birthdays to make really important decisions because they knew Southern Baptists would be praying for them on their birthdays because their names were listed in Southern Baptist missions magazines.
“Tennessee Baptist churches are strategically engaged, praying with insight into the ministries that we have through the relationships that they have with their Tennessee Baptist missionaries on the field.
“They’re not just saying, ‘Lord, be with all the missionaries.’ Through the ease of communication, now they’re getting prayer updates, they’re understanding what’s happening. If a disaster strikes, or something happens, an emergency situation, we are able to get prayer requests back to our home churches in an instant. That’s amazing.
“To be able to see that opportunity, to be able to pray and to support through the power of prayer, we’ve never had that, ever. Missionaries have never had that,” he said.
The Lanes are appreciative of Tennessee Baptists.
“We are grateful, not just for the resources that they’ve given, but for the people, including us, they have helped send to the mission field. Tennessee Baptists are making a global impact daily,” he said. B&R