Thursday, August 28, 2008

GBC Missions Conference 2008

This past week we had our first ever missions conference at Grace Baptist Church. I’ve been looking forward to this time all summer and it did not disappoint. We had three missionaries speak. The first, Chris Seawright, was one of our first ever missionaries (of course, all of our current missionaries fall into that category, but that is beside the point), back from his first term in Cambodia. The last time Chris was at our church we were meeting in a rented modular building. He was a brand new missionary, just starting out, not knowing the language and not knowing what his first term would bring forth. It was a real blessing to see the progress made in that very difficult field and his obvious love for the Cambodian people.

Through Chris’s recommendation, we met our second missionary speaker, Michael Carlyle. Michael and his family are on deputation to Brazil. He did not start out as a missions or Bible major; instead, God called him out of secular employment to go to seminary (Central Seminary in Virginia Beach) and the mission field. He has a sweet family with four children – all girls. They ministered to us in music, both playing the piano and hand bells. My kids really enjoyed learning how to play those bells when they came over for lunch one day. Michael preached on the importance of missions in bringing glory to God from Revelation 4 and 5. It was one of the best messages I’ve heard on that subject in a long time. It was a real joy to hear his testimony and get to know him.

Our last missionary, David Rozelle, is a current member of our church. David is a veteran missionary, having served many years in Austria, Luxemburg, and Scotland, before coming home to work at various mission agencies stateside. He is now the Director of Advancement for Biblical Missions Worldwide. David possesses a wealth of missions knowledge and always brings a thoughtful, unique perspective to whatever topic he addresses.

We had a great mix of guys for our conference, a veteran missionary, a first term missionary, and a missionary on deputation. The last night we held a forum with those men to discuss various topics on the subject of missions. I think it is very helpful and necessary for local churches to think through what we are doing in regard to missions. We really just scratched the surface in our forum and could have easily gone on all night, but alas we had to break and get to our ice cream social.

It is really nice to have missionaries at church for an extended period of time. It helps the church get to know the men and their families. We were able to form a bond between their families and ours that too often doesn’t exist when all you know about a missionary is their picture on a wall. We all hated to see the conference end and have to part ways. I hope this is the beginning of many good missions conferences to come.