ou dont have to read much of On Mission to
discover one of our most important core beliefs: God wants every Christian to
be personally on mission with Him, delivering the gospel to the
Does that mean that every Christian is a missionary? Well, not exactly.
Some on mission Christians receive a special call from God to go from
where they are to places and people that God has prepared for them. Philip went
to Samaria and Gaza (Acts 8), Peter went to the
Gentile household of Cornelius (Acts 10), Paul and his partners went to places
and people now chronicled as the names of many New Testament books (Acts
13-28). Names like William Carey, Adoniram Judson and Lottie Moon bring to mind
more contemporary missionaries called to specific places and
So does that mean you have to cross an ocean or speak a different
language to be a missionary? Again, not exactly. Take for example the eight
modern-day missionaries profiled here. Their unique giftedness and preparation
now help them get past the barriers that have kept people in their mission
field from hearing the good news about Jesus.
These missionaries are representative of the 5,025 who have been
appointed by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to places of service in
the United States, Canada and their territories. During a special Week
of Prayer for North American missions March 5-12 thousands of churches and
literally millions of Christians will pray for these eight and for
theon mission cause of sharing the gospel throughout
We invite you, too, to be their partners in prayer.
The tune is familiar. The words are not. But as the
keyboard leads the congregation in the opening hymn, its apparent that "How
Great Thou Art" is easily recognizable in any language.
The pastor writes a scripture on a chalkboard, the Arabic characters flowing
freely from his marker, right to left, right to left, as the verse takes
As he leads the congregation in Bible study, Basem Qusous explains the
importance of a seed dying in the ground before it can produce a plant.
Thats the business this Middle Eastern pastor occupies himself with as he
teaches immigrants from Arabic-speaking nations about the importance of dying
to self and turning to Christ for redemption. Its a slow work, hard work, but
one that brings great reward, Basem says.
Khalil "Charlie" Hanna understands. For 20 years he has served Southern
Baptists as a catalytic missionary in California, working to plant churches
across the state.
When he was appointed both by the California Baptist Convention and the
North American Board (NAMB), there was no Arabic work in his state.
Egyptian-born Charlie, whose Arabic name means "friend of God," spends much
of his time teaching Bible studies open to non-Christians in homes and offices,
encouraging pastors and trying to reach Middle Easterners for Christ. He knows
their homesickness, but more important, he knows their heartsickness for peace
Charlie accepted Christ in a small church in Cairo that was started by
Southern Baptist missionaries. As a young man he went to Beirut where he
received a degree at the Lebanon Southern Baptist Bible School. Then he was
asked to pastor a Lebanese congregation, and hes been preaching ever since.
"The overall goal of my ministry is to start churches and lead that group to
grow in the Lord and start another church. Our goal is to reach every Middle
Easterner in California. Its a big state, and I cant do it on my own, but we
can all do it working together," he explains.
Starting from scratch, Charlie first began
building churches with Middle Easterners who had a Christian background. With
that foundation in place, he now teaches those believers how to reach their
But its no easy task. In the Los Angeles area where he lives, there are more
than 15,000 Muslims practicing the faith of their fathers. There are more than
1 million Middle Easterners statewide.
"The Arab feels that Islam is the best religion because its older than
Christian-ity," he said. "The Arab may listen to you, but he will politely
respond with I already have the best [religion], so I dont need to change.
Thats what creates the slow response to the gospel."
Thats why its so important for Charlie to train others so
they, in turn, can start other churches. Others like Basem, who now serves as
pastor of the Arabic mission at San Franciscos 19th Avenue Baptist Church.
In his role as catalytic missionary, Charlie oversees the health of
Arabic-speaking churches across the state. When the San Francisco mission was
ready to close its doors, Charlie prayed that God would lead him to another
pastor who would share the vision for the churchs growth. Before long Basem and
his family responded to Charlies vision. They left a beautiful home, moved into
a crowded apartment and threw themselves into rebuilding the congregation and
re-establishing a vibrant, growing church. Now, after seven hard years, the
church has grown from two to 70.
Charlies work is many times overwhelming, but he is not alone in his
ministry. His wife, Amal, begins each day at 4 a.m. on her knees in prayer for
those needing to hear the gospel.
"I thank God because of my wife. Shes not only helping me to open our home
for visitors, but she helps me in visitation. We are a team serving the Master.
He deserves all that we can give."
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC