Jimmy Carter and Lauran Bethell
The New Baptist Covenant meeting was a significant gathering, and leaders of American Baptist International Ministries said "what will come of it" depends on us. Several staff and missionaries of International Ministries were at the historic gathering of Baptists from around North America, which met in Atlanta, Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.
"The gathering was particularly encouraging to me because International Ministries has already been taking steps in the direction being urged at Atlanta," said Dr. Reid Trulson, executive director of International Ministries.
Around the themes of unity, cooperation and ministering to the poor, Trulson noted:
• International Ministries has embraced the opportunity to work with others to jointly appoint long-term missionaries. Two such joint appointments were completed last year between International Ministries and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship: (1) Duane and Marcia Binkley for service among Karen refugees in Thailand and the US, and (2) Nancy and Steve James for medical ministry in Haiti. "We are eager to explore possible joint appointments with others," said Trulson.
• International Ministries registers people beyond our American Baptist congregations as short-term missionaries through our program to place volunteers with partners and missionaries around the world.
• Conversations have progressed between International Ministries and Spelman College, a historically black, all-women's college in Atlanta, about a possible program to assist Spelman students and alumnae to participate in the Xtreme Team -- a short-term mission experience designed for young adults, aged 19 to 29, as well as other short-term mission opportunities.
• Lauran Bethell, an International Ministries global consultant for at-risk women and children led a workshop on human slavery and forced prostitution during the New Baptist Covenant celebration. Bethell has worked with advocates and ministries around the world to help form an International Christian Alliance on Prostitution, to minister to spiritually and empower economically women and children sold into the sex-trade. Representatives of Night Light, an International Ministries related business-as-mission to women in prostitution in Thailand, led by missionary Annie Dieselberg, was also represented at the event.
Trulson said these are just a few recent examples of actions that International Ministries is taking to work in meaningful cooperation with the broader Baptist family.
"In my view, the message and mandate of the New Baptist Covenant is right in line with how American Baptists want to do mission, both in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and around the world," said Trulson. "May God guide us all with wisdom and encourage us with joy as we pursue the new avenues of cooperation that the Spirit opens before us."
Formed in 1814, American Baptist International Ministries is the oldest Baptist mission agency in North America. International Ministries brings people, programs and parishes together to do cutting edge ministry that meets human need. The movement serves more than 2,500 short-term and long-term missionaries, and thousands of U.S. and Puerto Rico churches, who work together with partners in 76 countries.