Posted on : Friday May 18, 2018

Tim Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church and first vice-chairman of the International Mission Board of trustees

By Sharon Mager

COLUMBIA, Md.—Addressing the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D)’s General Mission Board (GMB) at their spring meeting on May 8, 2018, at Skycroft Conference Center, Tim Simpson reported on the International Mission Board (IMB) presidential search and the unique opportunities and challenges faced by the Southern Baptists’ largest entity.

Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church and first vice-chairman of IMB’s board of trustees, said Chuck Pourciau, senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., is chairing the presidential search committee that is seeking the replacement for David Platt, who requested to step down as president this past February.

The committee has been receiving names of potential candidates and they are prayerfully reviewing them. They hope to have a candidate to present at the fall IMB trustee meeting in Richmond, Simpson said.

In the meantime, “David Platt is serving wonderfully as our president, and he will serve until his successor is chosen,” Simpson affirmed.

Simpson also thanked the GMB members and their churches for faithful giving to the Cooperative Program (CP) and to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.

“Fifty-one cents of every dollar we give to CP goes to the IMB,” Simpson said. Of which, “$208 million goes to directly support field personnel.” That includes salaries, housing, medical expenses, annuities, vehicles, and homeschooling.

Explaining the almost 80 percent of the IMB funding that goes to resource missionaries, he said, “It costs $119,000 to keep a married couple on the field for a year.” About half that amount supports a single missionary and support for a journeyman is $45,000 a year.

The IMB will present 47 missionary candidates at the SBC meeting in June. In addition, 126 people will be training at the International Learning Center in Richmond, where they’ll learn culture and disciple-making. Some will go directly to a field language school and spend two years learning the required language.

Simpsons said young adults called to the mission field make big sacrifices to be faithful to their calling.

“Many are in professional careers where they have to back away from being a banker or a teacher or an accountant, and they have to sell all of their stuff before they leave.”

Simpson explained that missionaries are placed in affinity groups—America, Central Asian, the deaf population, East Asian, European, North African and the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Sub Sahara African.

He stressed that since missionaries work with people groups, they may be in one particular area working with people from another area. For example, they may be in Europe working with African mission groups.

“Because of global business and a large number of refugees, missionaries are having to make some interesting adjustments,” Simpson said, noting missionaries have unique opportunities when ministering to refugees. Refugees really want to talk to someone. They want someone to sit down, have a cup of coffee and share their story, he said.

Rarely are the missionaries working alone. They work in affinity groups, clusters, and teams. Usually, a veteran missionary receives them and trains them.

“The most exciting part of my work as a trustee,” said Simpson, “is to step into the process to meet and access and talk to our missionary candidates face to face. It’s just refreshing that God is still calling these bright passionate, primarily young adults, to go to the nations.”

Simpson recently spent three days in the jungle, serving on the Americas affinity group.

“The coolest part of the trip is that I got to watch our missionary, Joe, watch an indigenous church planter who was training other people how to tell the stories of the Bible in that unreached people group. And to watch the look on Joe’s face— that he had passed the baton to an indigenous church planter who was now sharing it with these villages along that river. That’s why your CP dollar and your Lottie Moon dollar really matters.”

Simpson encouraged members to visit the IMB website and explore the resources there.

“It will walk you through how to get your church more missionally-minded,” he said.

“The greatest way for you to personalize the mission of IMB and Southern Baptists for your church and to get CP growing and Lottie Moon [offering] growing in the church is…to take several people on a mission trip and to get outside our country and to get your feet on another nation, see the lostness and look back at the U.S. and get missions under your fingernails. It will do something really awesome for you, and it will do something really awesome for the men and women that you are able to take with you.”

He added, “High school and college mission trips are foundational for God calling people to the mission field. Campus Crusade and Baptist student ministry is another strong part of the call, and of course, being from churches that preached and taught and lived missions.”

BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith also stressed the importance of the IMB.

“I’m used to state identity. I was a Tennessee Baptist, and I was a Kentucky Baptist and now I’m a Maryland/Delaware Baptist. Nevertheless, with our state identities, we function with this larger convention body, the Southern Baptist Convention. What happens there is so important,” he said. “Since 1814, really the one thing that has united Baptists in America is the desire to take the Gospel to the nations. I don’t think there’s a more important position in the Southern Baptist Convention than the president of the IMB.”