Of the 4,900 Southern Baptist workers serving overseas through the International Mission Board, only 26 are black; eight of them were on hand for the week's events July 22-26, encouraging others to engage in international missions. The theme for this year's conference was "Leave all, follow fully, make disciples."
At the conclusion of IMB's July 24 presentation, Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter described how he met his first African American missionary at the conference years before. David Cornelius, a retired IMB missionary and staff member, had urged Luter to visit the mission field. But Luter never did, believing he was too busy.
After his election as SBC president, part of Luter's role included going on an international trip. He spent two weeks in Africa.
"It was one of the most rewarding times in my life," he said. "I regretted, pastors, that I didn't do this a lot sooner.... So let me challenge you: Don't let it take you to be elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention to go to the mission field.
"Ask God right now, 'God, put upon my heart and upon the heart of my church a passion to go onto the highways and byways of life.' Pastors, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few," Luter said. "Let's take up the commandment and the commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's make disciples."
SOURCE: Baptist Press