Southern Baptists sending 79 new missionaries overseas, including 6 from Georgia


NEW ORLEANS — Southern Baptists commissioned 79 newly appointed missionaries on Tuesday in New Orleans where the SBC annual meeting is underway.

Nearly 12,000 messengers watched as the fledgling International Mission Board missionaries crossed the stage in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, some silhouetted behind screens to conceal their identities because they're deploying to countries hostile to the gospel.

IMB President Paul Chitwood said another 1,200 missionary candidates are in the pipeline for potential deployment once they’re completed the application process. Already, 3,500 missionaries are serving in countries around the world.

“Your IMB missionaries are addressing the world’s greatest problem with the only solution, God’s solution – the gospel,” Chitwood said. “But they need your prayers, your support, your continued generosity, and more workers in the harvest.”

Chitwood said IMB missionaries are now working in 122 countries and were responsible for 102,000 baptisms over the past year.

“For 178 years, you have obeyed the Great Commission by sending missionaries overseas through your International Mission Board,” Chitwood told messengers. “But we need more.”

Chitwood said that 40 years ago, with a world population of 4.3 billion, IMB had more than 3,000 missionaries. This year, with a world population of 8 billion, IMB 's missionary force stands at 3,500.

“I believe in what we do together,” he said. “My prayer is that God would open the floodgates and send us 400 new missionaries this year and money to support them.”

The Georgia missionaries are Matthew and Kristi Gillespie, Leah Taylor, Chris Wong, and Whit and Frances Cooper. IMB withheld the names of their churches and hometowns for security reasons.