In the spring of 1792, a thirty one-year-old cobbler who also toiled away as a not-particularly-good preacher, convinced a gathering of Baptists in Nottingham, England, to form “a Baptist society for propagating the gospel among the heathen.” As the society began its work, this young shoemaker/preacher, filled with missionary zeal, readily volunteered to leave England even before talking it over with his wife. Begrudgingly, she quickly packed up her life and the belongings of their ever-growing family and joined him on a ship bound for India. And with that boat ride and evangelistic zeal, William Carey launched Baptists into the wide world of missions.
For more than two hundred twenty-five years, Baptists have traditionally embraced missions — sending out members to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the world in word and deed — as a core tenet of our faith. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was birthed nearly thirty years ago, in part because we wanted missions to include ministries of mercy, hospitality, and healing alongside evangelism.
Today, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship supports and partners with over sixty field personnel in over twenty-five countries as well as locations across the United States. Additionally, CBF supports other ministry partnerships in locations around the world. These field personnel work alongside refugees, practice ecumenical hospitality, offer medical care, address rural poverty, and minister to the imprisoned as they bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
These field personnel and their families are integral to the ongoing witness and work of CBF. But the good ministers do not work or serve for free. And that is where we come in. Several years ago, CBF committed to funding the personnel expenses related to the field personnel’s salary, living expenses, insurance, and retirement savings. Your gifts to CBF’s Offering for Global Missions secure the long-term presence of these field personnel in their ministry settings.
The field personnel, however, are responsible for raising funds and resources to support their ministry operations. And this is where we, both individual supporters and congregational partners, are essential. Each field personnel has a ministry account that can receive support funds from donors. Additionally, CBF has the Encourager Church program whereby local congregations covenant with field personnel with whom they have relationships or with whom they are developing partnerships. This allows congregations to know and claim the work of field personnel as part of their ministry. Most of us are unable to travel to Uganda or Indonesia or Belgium, but establishing a partnership with ministry presence in these locales allows us to actively participate in the good Gospel work going on in these countries.
In 2019, CBF/GA identified field personnel who have connections to our state, whether they are from Georgia or previously served in a CBF/GA partner congregation, and we began a partnership with them. We provide funds out of our operating budget and State Mission Offering to support their ministries as well as publicize their ministry work through our communications. We also plan to host mission immersion experiences with these partners, once COVID travel restrictions are lifted and we can best ensure participant safety. Our partners are:
- Anna and LaCount Anderson, Eastern North Carolina, rural poverty ministry
- Tina and Jonathan Bailey, Indonesia, arts and prison ministries
- Laura and Carson Foushee, Japan, cultural and hospitality ministry
- Lesley-Ann Hix-Tommey, New York City, urban ministry
- Missy Ward-Angalla, Uganda, refugee, women’s, and children’s ministry
- Karen, North Africa, immigrant and refugee work
In this edition of Visions, you will read more of their stories and how you can connect to their work. I pray you will be inspired to give and partner with these good servants as they seek to do good work around our country and world. If your congregation would like to know more about developing an Encourager Church covenant, please contact Jody Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May William Carey’s zeal for missions and ministry around the world continue to live on in Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partners and supporters today.