Don't miss out on an unexpected missions opportunity


The lights had just come on for the intermission of my daughter’s spring musical when we got the news.  In response to the risk associated with the new virus her school was transitioning to remote learning and all extracurricular activities were cancelled, including the performances of her last high school musical production. 

The moment set the stage for an endless list of cancelled events for the remainder of her senior year; major events like concerts, prom, and even graduation.  What we thought might be a couple weeks has turned into a 2 year long life changing pandemic that all of us will never forget.  My daughter’s senior activities are not the only thing that was cancelled.  Over the last two years countless number of mission trips by our churches have ceased and most of our short-term missions efforts have been non-existent.

Over the last four decades a missional shift has occurred among Southern Baptist churches.  We have watched churches transition their missions participation from simply financially supporting denominational mission efforts to creating opportunities for missions engagement within their congregations. 

Over the years more and more churches began to organize short-term missions experiences for their congregations.  This transition to short-term missions experiences has created a challenge for many churches during the last two years. The Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions that have been mandated by world-wide governing officials has crippled the ability for our members to participate in these ministry encounters. 

Although the pandemic has brought a halt to how we do short-term missions, it has not reduced the ministry opportunities and needs of those serving in our state, across our country, and around the world. Those servants who carry the light of Christ to a world not only darkened by stains of sin but now shadowed by the sting of death.  They continue to serve, share, and minister in spite of the challenges and risks created by the pandemic. 

One of things that continues to amaze me during this unusual time of ministry is that most of our churches have not struggled financially.  I salute our members for their faithful support to our churches during a time of financial uncertainty.  Our Foundation provides a service that allows members to make stock gifts to their churches through our brokerage account when the church does not have a brokerage account. 

I will never forget one of the first stock transfer requests our Foundation received just days after Georgia Baptist churches were forced to cancel in person worship services.  The heart of the gentlemen who made this early gift should be an inspiration to us all.  When asked about the gift, he stated that he did not want his church to fall short while services were cancelled so he was giving several thousand dollars extra to make sure his church was ahead of any potential problems.

All across our convention, members have given with the same spirit and as a result, one of the miracles of the pandemic is that our churches have not really suffered financially.  To God be the Glory!

This leads me to the purpose of this article.  Is it possible that some of our churches have short-term mission dollars that are sitting on the sidelines because they are budgeted for mission trips for their congregations but have not been able to go? 

If this is true for your church, I would like to challenge you to prayerfully consider releasing those resources so they can be used for the cause of Christ.  Even though many of our churches aren’t able to send their people on mission trips, they have a special opportunity to see God’s mission advance. 

The pandemic may have inhibited many of our churches from participating in their normal missions work, but it has not stopped the ministries of our associations, state conventions, seminaries, and especially the work of the North American and International Mission Board. 

Our collective work as Southern Baptists goes forward, and the gospel-sharing opportunities have multiplied as people who do not know Christ have been faced with fear and death. 

Let me encourage you to discover where God is using Baptists to reach your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the World. Then with a joyful spirit, give those excess funds you have not been able to use and together let’s support those ministries who daily serve on the frontline of God’s kingdom work.  Don’t miss out on this unexpected missions opportunity!

Johnathan Gray is president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Baptist Foundation.