New IMB missionaries celebrated during SBC annual meeting

New IMB missionaries celebrated during SBC annual meeting

By Sue Sprenkle, writer, International Mission Board

Newly appointed missionaries looked around the Indiana Convention Center’s hall at the urging of Paul Chitwood, International Mission Board president. He gestured from the stage to more than 13,000 messengers and guests sent by local churches to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis, June 11-12.

“Beside you and behind you are row upon row, thousands of Southern Baptists, here to celebrate with you as you prepare to go to the nations,” he said. “As you go out to literally every corner of the earth in pursuit of the lost, may the Lord remind you that always — always — there are Southern Baptists praying fervently for you, and for the gospel to advance.”

Chitwood reminded the crowd that millions of Southern Baptists have prayed faithfully for God to call out and send laborers to His harvest fields during the convention’s 179 years of existence. These 83 missionaries, plus two previously appointed who participated with spouses, were recognized at the IMB’s Sending Celebration to end the June 11 morning session of the meeting. The IMB president smiled and pointed out this was one of the largest groups to be sent out during an SBC annual meeting. 

The new missionaries will serve in every affinity of the world where the IMB works today. They represent a collective commitment to the biblical model of getting the gospel to those who have yet to hear through the presence of a missionary. As part of this unified effort, Chitwood explained to the new missionaries, Southern Baptists have made and kept three pledges throughout two centuries of missionary presence:

"We pledge to hold the ropes for you in our praying.”

These prayers have been preparing newly appointed missionaries Todd and Michele Linn, Henderson, Kentucky, for their ministry in Zambia where they will serve as a seminary lecturer and provide leadership in rural Bible schools. Strengthening churches and discipling local believers is something they treasure. 

Michele said there was a time when she didn’t know much about church, but a praying, loving body of believers made all the difference in their lives and growth in faith throughout the years. She recalled a man at church saying he’d see her Wednesday, even though she had never been. 

“So, I went just to see what I was missing,” she said. “It wasn’t long before Todd joined me, and we became regularly involved with the life of the church.”

The church body eventually financially supported and prayed them through theological education and into pastorates in Kentucky and Indiana. For years, the couple prayed for the persecuted church in Asia and the Middle East and for missionaries. They have seen the power of prayer in the life of the churches they served and on the mission field as they partnered with missionary teams. Now, as they heed God’s call to minister to the nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, they hold tight to Southern Baptists’ pledge of prayer because they know its importance. They are being sent from Oakhill Baptist Church in Evansville, Indiana. 

“Join us in the Great Pursuit by praying for us as we learn a new language at an older age,” Michele added.

“We pledge to hold the ropes for you in our giving.”

Abigail Freemyer, Oakland, Florida, has been the recipient of the generous giving of Southern Baptists and couldn’t be more thankful. A collegiate ministry, partially funded through the Cooperative Program, South Carolina Baptist Convention, and local churches, was where she first realized that if Jesus was the most important part of her life, then she would talk about Jesus with everyone.

She spent two summers as a student missionary in Prague, Czechia, where she learned to love the nations and share the gospel with them. After college graduation, she went back as a two-year IMB Journeyman. Southern Baptist gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® support ministries like Freemyer’s with 100% going to the mission field. She now returns to her ministry in Prague as a newly appointed long-term missionary apprentice, sent from First Baptist Church Orlando.

“Sharing the hope and joy I have in Jesus with others is such a sweet gift,” Freemyer said. “Thank you to everyone who has and will join me in the work through prayer, support and/or going.”

“We pledge to hold the ropes for you not only as we send you but in sending others to serve alongside you and after you.”

“We pledge to hold the ropes for you not only as we send you but in sending others to serve alongside you and after you.”

When Oklahoma Baptists committed to increasing their missions sending in 2020, Michael and Liz Davis envisioned being part of this effort. The couple from Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma, will serve among European Peoples in Germany and are sent from Trinity Baptist Church, Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma. 

These newly appointed missionaries join a force now numbering 25,000 missionaries throughout the two centuries of history in the Southern Baptist Convention. 

“My conviction to go to the nations began as a child and my desire to reach the unreached increased as I grew in my faith,” Michael said. 

Liz pointed out they would not be ready or equipped to follow God’s calling to church planting without supporting and praying churches, like those represented in the audience.

Chitwood looked at the new missionaries and pointed out the tenure of a long-term Southern Baptist IMB missionary is three times longer, on average, than those sent through other sending agencies. The reason, he said, turning back to the crowd, is because of the support that comes from the people sitting in the convention center and across the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“May we not waiver in our pledge to support them through our prayers and giving, nor in sending reinforcements to serve alongside them,” the IMB president said, noting that spiritual lostness is growing every day and more workers are needed. “We’ve made a promise we must keep, together, that we’ll hold the ropes for those we are sending, and for the thousands they are joining around the world.

“They are our missionaries. Your missionaries.”

“They are our missionaries. Your missionaries.”

The morning event closed with a time of prayer in five languages. The next IMB Sending Celebration will be Sept. 25, hosted by First Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia.


The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is a registered trademark of Woman’s Missionary Union.

Asa Watson, newly appointed missionary to Germany, prays in German during the IMB’s Sending Celebration, June 11. He and three other missionaries closed the ceremony by praying in different languages. IMB Photo