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.
Under an overcast Toronto sky, members of Dixie Baptist
Church trickle into a small building attached to a high-rise, much like they
have for 21 years.
Though the makeup of the congregation has changed, it remains a strong
example of the life-changing power of Christ in this multi-ethnic Canadian
community. In this case, the congregationOntarios first Southern Baptist
churchmeets on a concrete slab over a former indoor swimming pool.
Downstairs, the womens swimsuit dressing room is the nursery; showers
testify to its former use. Youth gather next door in the mens changing
On this Sunday morning 15 nationalities join to study the Bible. The setting
isnt fancy, but it serves its purpose. In fact, the building is evidence of the
tenacity and creativity of Canadian Southern Baptists in planting churches
whenever a door opensor, in this case, when a pool closes.
No one told the group it was too small to make
a difference. As a result, this international mix of immigrants now sponsors
six mission churchesone English-speaking, one Hispanic, one Vietnamese and
three Korean. A First Nation congregation, similar to Native American work in
the United States, is planned.
Helping Dixies church starting effortsand serving as a catalyst among 20
other churches and missions across Toronto and the province of Ontarioare North
American Mission Board missionaries Barry and LaWanda Bonney. Barry is a church
planter-catalyst. LaWanda leads teacher workshops in churches and leads the
Womans Missionary Union in Ontario.
The couple lives in Oakville, a Toronto suburb, with their three daughters:
Kayla, 7; Kristen, 5; and Kelsey, 2.
Its a ministry built on teamwork.
Though he concentrates his ministry in Toronto, Barry travels the expansive
province locating sites for new home Bible studies or missions. LaWandas
childhood as a missionary kid in Mexico and Central America opens doors in the
Hispanic community. And their daughters subtle witness among their peers helps
introduce others to Bible stories.
As church planter-catalyst, Barry works with pastors to brainstorm and share
ideas on ways to start churches. In many ways hes a recruiter, assessor and
coach to church planters.
When the couple moved to Toronto from a smaller city in Saskatchewan, they
came to the province of 11 million residents to work with ethnics. Since then
Barrys job description has expanded to working with new English-speaking
The Bonneys are the only NAMB missionaries in the province, which includes
Canadas capital, Ottawa.
"Its really a God-sized project," LaWanda says. "Thats why we tell the
churches our goal is for them to be church-starting churches. It requires them
to look beyond themselves."
The Canadian Southern Baptist Convention has the goal of planting 1,000 new
churches as quickly as possible, up from 140 today. These churches need to be
in Ontario because thats where a large percentage of Canadians live, Barry
The way to reach the goal, he said, is to cultivate the planting of key
churches that will rapidly multiply themselves throughout the area. Thats the
big-picture, but it will require more church planters from Canada and the
United States catching the vision.
"In addition to Canadian church planters, we are looking for gifted
Americans with cross-cultural skills similar to those of someone surrendering
to mission service in any other country. That is surprising to some of those
coming from the United States to minister here," he explains.
"Canada is not the 51st state," says Barry. "Some of those coming here from
the South feel like they are on another planet when they realize how
unreceptive Canadians can be to the gospel. Canada is a highly diverse,
multi-ethnic, religiously pluralistic nation.
"When you share your faith with someone, you cant assume that they know
anything about the Bible."
LaWanda adds: "The world is coming here, but it is not being reached. Our
passion is to see these people come to know Christ and share Him with their
countrymen as missionaries to their own people."
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC