by Julie McGowan
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Bob and Melanee Gallina invested 18 years in leading The Church at Green Hills in La Habra, Calif. They lived in a comfortable house that was a home base for their children, who are missionaries overseas. After retirement, the couple noted, they planned to serve overseas themselves.
But then they felt God prompting them to consider, “Why wait until you retire? Why not now?” Now the church they once led is sending them through the International Mission Board to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to American peoples.
The Gallinas were among 50 new Southern Baptist missionaries appointed through the International Mission Board Nov. 10 near Richmond, Va.
The celebration highlighted ways God transforms personal experience into a willingness to make disciples and multiply churches among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God. Lily Llambes’ appointment is a long way from her history involved in voodoo, to the point of almost being personally sacrificed in a ritual. She heard the Gospel on TV and surrendered her life to Christ.
Lily and her husband Carlos joined Iglesia Bautista Estrella de Belen in Hialeah, Fla., where they were discipled. Lily was involved in Woman’s Missionary Union and prayed for four years that God would call Carlos to missions, as God had called her. He did, and the couple will share the Gospel in Mexico City, “grateful to God, IMB and the Lottie Moon Offering.”
When she was 19, Jamie Schilt said, she was “jaded toward the Gospel and indifferent to the resurrection.” But “God brought my dead heart to life. Now, I celebrate the resurrection of my Lord every Sunday and long to see the nations do the same!”
Schilt and her husband Chris are being sent by Relevant Worship Church in Claremore, Okla., to partner with a team in Malawi, Africa, to plant churches, train pastors and gather worshippers among the nations.
“Why are you going? Why are you uprooting your lives, giving away your possessions, altering your future to move to difficult, even dangerous, places in the world?” IMB President David Platt asked the new missionaries.
He extended the question: “Why are we sending them? Why are we sending single sisters and brothers, married couples, parents, grandparents with our support to difficult, even dangerous, places in the world?”
“Why?” is a really important question, Platt said. The answer can be found in 1 Corinthians 15. In the passage, Paul is willingly walking into difficulty and danger for the spread of the Gospel in the world. The first reason, Platt said, is because death is coming (1 Cor. 15:20-22).
“Death is our destiny. And death is our enemy,” Platt said. “It could be today. It could be tomorrow. … We don’t invest our lives here in temporary trinkets. We invest our lives here in eternal treasure. We don’t spend our lives here on fleeting pleasures and foolish pursuits. We spend our lives here on what’s going to matter forever.”
Followers of Christ go to share the Gospel because others’ death is coming, too. “Here’s why it makes sense to go and live your life and lead your family into great risk in another part of the world: because those 2.8 billion people who haven’t heard the Gospel, they’re not guaranteed tomorrow either,” Platt said.
“The second reason we go is because the resurrection is real,” Platt noted, reading 1 Cor. 15:3-8. Christ’s resurrection, he said, is “crazy good. It’s the greatest news in all the world: death has been defeated! … Because Jesus was raised from the dead, risk-taking, death-defying missions in difficult, dangerous-to-reach places is to be envied in this world.”
The Bible gives an outline of history in the passage, and Christian believers go to share the Gospel because of where all history is headed, Platt said.
“All of history is headed toward the day when Christ will put all His enemies under His feet, and we will join with men and women from every nation, tribe, tongue and people to enjoy and exalt Him forever in a new heaven and new earth where there is no more sin, sorrow, or suffering,” he said. “Let’s lead the church for that day. Let’s live and die for that day.”
Pathways to go
The 50 new missionaries represent fully funded, full-time personnel. While IMB is developing ways to send “limitless” missionaries, the organization is committed to continue sending these fully funded, full-time missionaries to the field. This includes funding in the 2017 budget for Journeyman and International Service Corps personnel — those previously called “short-term personnel,” but what IMB soon will call “mid-term personnel.”
“Let me be crystal clear,” Platt told Southern Baptists during IMB’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention in June, “the IMB is still going to send full-time, fully funded career missionaries just like we’ve always sent. They are the priceless, precious, critical core of our mission force.”
Those career missionaries, he noted, will be surrounded with professionals, students, retirees and others who collectively show that global mission “is not just for a select few people in the church, but for multitudes of Spirit-filled men and women across the church.”
Support through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering make it possible for these new missionaries to be appointed. Cooperative Program and LMCO gifts also sustain the thousands of Southern Baptist personnel already on the field.
The 50 new missionaries are able to go through the sending of all kinds of churches — such as Three Wooden Crosses Cowboy Church in Augusta, Kan., or Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., among dozens of others. Churches interested in learning how they can partner with IMB to send their members on mission can visit IMB.org/send. To learn more about personal pathways of service, including students, retirees and professionals, visit IMB.org/sendme.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
by Diana Chandler
ORYOL, Russia (BP) — Missionaries Donald and Ruth Ossewaarde always suspected their Gospel ministry in Oryol, Russia, wouldn’t last when they began in 2002, he told Baptist Press by telephone from his home in the central Russian town of 320,000.
But he had not expected to be among the first people arrested under Russia’s new law prohibiting organizations from evangelizing outside church walls and without a government permit.
Two weeks after police interrupted Ossewaarde’s Sunday morning Bible study in his home with 15 students, arrested him and fined him 40,000 rubles, about $600, the Independent Baptist missionary said he will leave the country amid veiled threats against his life, even though he has appealed the charges against him.
“I really think that the political situation in Russia has reached a point where they are going to, one way or the other, they’re going to get rid of me,” he told BP. “So I really decided to end my operations here. It’s sad because there are people here that really enjoy what we do. It’s a big part of their life.”
Ossewaarde has conducted street evangelism, distributed printed materials and held weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings in his home. He has ended those outreaches, is awaiting a court date for his appeal, is trying to sell his apartment and house, and is making plans to return to the U.S.
“I’m very sad,” he said. “This is a dream that I’ve been living for 22 years since the first time I visited in 1994. It took a year or two for me to realize God was calling me to come over permanently, because I had just been making visits. In 1996 I realized this was my calling.”
As an Independent Baptist, he travelled the U.S. for several years to raise financial support among churches for the mission before moving to Ukraine in 1999 and Oryol, Russia, three years later.
“This has been my life, what I’ve lived for,” he said. “I guess we expected from the beginning that this wasn’t going to last. I guess we were surprised that it lasted as long as it did. But now it just seems like the window and the door of opportunity is finally closing.”
He has referred his Bible study participants and others to the Russian Baptist Church.
“But still,” he said of the Christians, “they’re just devastated.”
Ossewaarde was arrested Aug. 14 and forced to attend a hearing in the city’s Railway District Court that same day, with the representation of a court-appointed attorney who advised him to accept the verdict, pay the fine and leave the city, because anything might happen to him and his family, according to a press release on Ossewaarde’s website.
His wife has already returned to Illinois, where their home congregation Faith (Independent) Baptist Church is located in Bourbonnais.
“I didn’t feel that she was safe [here] after … I had a thinly veiled threat against myself and my wife so I just figured it was time for her to go home,” he said. “I want to complete the appeal process. If I can successfully challenge this it will make it easier on other missionaries that would probably otherwise be prosecuted.”
Ossewaarde was charged under Article 5.26, Part 5 of the new religion law for holding religious services in his home, advertising services on bulletin boards in nearby neighborhoods, and failing to give authorities written notification when he began his religious activities. He has hired private attorneys.
“What we have in our favor … is the way they wrote the law is very ineffective in accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish,” Ossewaarde said, clarifying that the law passed July 20 limits missionary activity by religious organizations in particular, and he operates independently of any group. “They wanted to make all missionary activity illegal. The law as written doesn’t apply to me, and that’s why I believe that we will win this appeal. But long term, obviously they can write another law that says missionary activity is just plain outlawed. I certainly consider myself a missionary.”
Five others had been arrested under the law as of Aug. 22, Forum 18 reported, including another Baptist who was fined 5,000 rubles; a Hare Krishna, acquitted; a Protestant, fined 50,000 rubles; a Pentecostal, who was to appear in court Aug. 29, and a Seventh-day Adventist, who was awaiting a trial date.
Ossewaarde had enjoyed religious freedom before the new law, although the Russian Orthodox Church held a religious monopoly of sorts.
“All other religious movements are looked at as foreign and suspicious and I’ve heard people say to each other that if you go to a foreign religion meeting that you’re not patriotic,” he said. “Anybody other than an Orthodox Christian is referred to as a sectarian or cultist. Up until recently, we had complete freedom to be able to distribute literature, talk to people on the street. We were even able to put literature in mail boxes.”
Ossewaarde first evangelized in Russia during a 1994 visit there after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“The first time I came over with a group of evangelists and pastors, we had two weeks of meetings and we just had thousands of people that responded to the Gospel invitations and it was very exciting back in those days,” he said. “We just thought there was going to be a great revival. It was going to sweep across Russia. And Russia and America were going to become great friends and it was just going to be a wonderful thing. And that great promise that we all hoped for just didn’t come to pass.”
Russia is now stressed economically, and political leaders blame America for the decline, Ossewaarde said.
“It’s a constant stream every day of anti-American and anti-foreign propaganda,” he said. “For them to go after a foreigner like me is good propaganda.”