By Stan Scroggins, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific
The C and O of the prefix “CO” communicates ways Associational Baptists have worked shoulder to shoulder for the sake of the gospel throughout history. Words like cooperation, compliment, collaboration and courtesy are just a few of these “CO” words that embody the spirit of BMAA churches working side by side. That’s why this year’s World Missions Day theme — CO:MISSIONED — is especially poignant, because nowhere is the spirit of CO:MISSIONED more apparent than in the work of BMAA Asia-Pacific.
Historically, churches all over the world have faced harassment, intimidation and persecution, even in the United States where churches enjoy religious freedom. For churches outside the States, forms of persecution are much more than just an annoyance, especially in Asia Pacific where death threats, sanctions against the Word of God, church closings and censures, and even intimidation from other Christian religions are the norm. The prayer and support from CO:MISSIONED BMAA churches for the Asia Pacific region, including creative access nations, Philippines, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and all over the world, is vital.
Creative access missionaries are working hard — and with joy — to teach, preach and tell the amazing message that Jesus is the light even in countries that are so dark.
Daisuke and Marcia Okada continue their work with the Megumi Baptist Church and teach in the Japan Bible Institute.
B.J. and Jill Sanders, along with Jeremy and Mandy Hambrice, are “over the moon” with the success of reaching the Wantakian tribe in the mountains of Papua New Guinea while Sean and Jenny Richards are in the process of locating a new assignment there.
The CO:MISSIONED spirit of BMA Baptists has helped missionaries in the Philippines partner to provide relief from recent floods, typhoons, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Danny and Rita Ballard, Fil and Lisa Kakilala, Doug and Diane Lee, Cris and Alicia Samson and Stan and Donna Scroggins are all CO:MISSIONED together in one of the most successful missionary efforts of the BMAA.
A few years ago, with a CO:MISSIONED attitude, the Baptist Missionary Association Bible College in the Philippines embarked on spreading World Missions Day into more than just an American church event. For the month of February, emphasis is placed on world missions and how every person, church, tribe, tongue and nation is commissioned by God to join in His plan to reach the nations. Taking up weekly offerings, highlighting messages from BMAA Missions President Dr. John David Smith, speaking in local churches and hosting student rallies help focus the CO:MISSIONED specter to a people who see themselves as too poor and small for God to use.
Missionaries down through history have always cheered the prayer support, giving and teamwork of their sending churches. Churches of the BMAA are the best at this. What can be said other than “Keep up the good work”?
Here are some other suggestions to insure World Missions Day is successful:
• Rally your local church to make World Missions Day an immense success through prayers and contributions.
• Invite furloughed missionaries to your church’s CO:MISSIONED Day celebration. Right now, Asia-Pacific missionaries Fil and Lisa Kakilala of Arkansas, Cris and Alicia Samson of Mississippi, Marcia Okada of Texas, Danny and Rita Ballard of Mississippi and Jeremy and Mandy Hambrice of Arkansas all stand prepared and eager for an invitation to CO:MISSION with you.
In this day of worldwide communication, inviting a missionary on the field to participate in your church celebration is simply a matter of asking. Pre-made videos and even live events are possible. There literally is no excuse for not having a missionary hero as part of your World Missions Day observance.
As a boy, and even through my adult life in church, I always heard visiting missionaries say “The most important need we have is your prayers.” I really didn’t understand this until Donna and I moved to the Philippines as missionaries in 2017. So, all your Asia-Pacific missionaries ask, plead, beseech and yes, even beg, for you to be CO:MISSIONED with us to pray, pray, pray!