Many of our International Mission Board missionaries would have a similar testimony to that of one of our fine Georgia Baptist ministers and his wife. Certainly, God calls Christians to be on mission for Him through many different channels. For years I have been saying that the state conventions have a very important role in preparing Southern Baptists for surrender and service in career missions. A great host of missionaries, both North American and International, have thanked me for the ministry of our Georgia Baptist state convention because it was through these ministries that they first sensed God’s call.
Recently I received a delightful, unsolicited email testimony from Stephen Folker who currently serves as Worship and Missions Pastor at Lawrence Drive Baptist Church in Macon. He has served in this position for the last 3½ years. He introduced his inspiring email with these words: “I wanted to write to you to share my testimony regarding my personal experience with Student Camps in Georgia.” Following is the text of his email:
When I was in middle school and high school, I attended IMPACT Student Camp every year from 7th grade through my senior year of high school. It was an incredible experience. From high school I went on to attend Truett-McConnell College. Upon entering college, the Lord had not yet called me into full-time ministry and I wasn’t even considering ministry as a vocation and/or calling when I began at Truett in the fall of 2002. However, my Freshman year, Truett held it’s very first spiritual emphasis week on campus, and one night I found myself on my knees before the Lord accepting a call into full-time Music/Worship Ministry.
Later on at Truett, I began to go to Poland through Baptist Collegiate Ministries at Truett and later received a call to missions as well. After receiving a BA in Church Music at Truett, I attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and received a M.Div. in Missiology. It was in high school that I began to fall in love with worshiping God through music – and I fell in love with Him more and more and through worshiping Him as I grew in my walk with Christ.
Part of the reason I fell in love worshipping Him through music was because I had experienced some of the most passionate worship time through the nightly corporate worship sessions during IMPACT Student Camps. Every year I looked forward to going and experiencing God through worship at IMPACT. IMPACT had a profound influence on my becoming a worship pastor. I am grateful for Georgia Baptists who have worked hard to provide these camps for its students.
Furthermore, my wife and I are now transitioning away from U.S. vocational ministry within the SBC, and moving into full-time overseas vocational ministry through the International Mission Board. We are in the process of officially becoming IMB missionaries on May 13. We are going to be moving this fall after our training in Richmond to Brno, Czech Republic, where we will join a family in Brno that has already been there for 8 or 9 years.
If my story/testimony could be of some encouragement to other GA Baptists, please feel free to use this information as much as you would like. Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I am grateful for the impact and influence GA Baptists have had in shaping my life as I continue to follow Jesus wherever He leads.”
Lawrence Drive Baptist Church, Macon
As we enter the summer months, I would like to encourage all of you to keep the summer ministries of your convention near to your heart and foremost in your prayer life. Many students this summer will sense God’s call to missions and will surrender to a lifetime of missionary service. Only God knows the extent of the influence of these lives in the coming decades.