June 23, 1999

Christians called to cities like
Jonah to Ninevah, Rankin says

___By Shari Schubert
___Florida Baptist Witness
___ATLANTA--Just as God called Jonah to take his message to Ninevah, God is calling out people today to be his messengers to the cities of the world, International Mission Board president Jerry Rankin told messengers and guests attending the closing session of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 16.
___Half the world's people live in cities, Rankin said. And millions of those have little or no knowledge of Jesus Christ.
___"God is saying to us to go," he said. But like Jonah, "you will face the option to shun that call or respond in obedience."
___Joining Rankin in a dialogue about the challenge of reaching the world's cities, Avery
NEW OFFICERS for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee are Vice Chairman John Wallace, a layman from Morristown, Tenn.; Chairman Claude Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless; and Secretary Jim Wells,pastor of Oakwood Baptist Church of Kansas City, Mo. (BP photo by Bill Bangham)
Willis, IMB senior vice president of overseas operations, warned that Southern Baptists could be in danger of making the same mistake Jonah made--becoming so focused on preaching the destruction of Ninevah that he missed God's plan to save the city.
___Much of the IMB's presentation this year focused on relief efforts in Honduras, where Hurricane Mitch last year claimed 10,000 lives, and in Albania, where refugees have fled from Kosovo.
___Tim Patterson, IMB missionary to Honduras, introduced Honduran pastor Armando Meza and translated as Meza shared about their work with teenage gang members in Tegucigalpa.
___The pastor and missionary are using sports to reach out to the youth, many of whom are involved in robbery, prostitution and murder. Since the ministry began, 2,636 ex-gang members have turned their lives to Christ, Meza said.
___Meza told of one young gang whose custom was to rob people early in the morning because by afternoon, most people would not have any more money. On one such morning, the youth waylaid a man carrying a backpack and demanded his money. When the man said he didn't have any, and showed him his empty pockets to prove it, the robbers ignored his pleas to spare his life and slashed open his stomach.
___Later, when they opened the victim's backpack to divide the spoils, all they found was seven tortillas and a Bible. They began to pass the Bible around and, as one of the youth later told the pastor, "we felt like it was burning us."
___They pledged it would be the last time they robbed. Since, 42 of the gang members have come to faith in Jesus Christ.
___"Heaven and earth will pass away," Meza quoted from Scripture, "but my words will not pass away."

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