Thursday, July 20, 2006

Punching Holes in the Darkness

When I was in Richmond this week I stopped by the First Baptist Church to tour the facilities and take a gander at the famous bell in the courtyard. I am a civil war buff, and the tour given Rachelle and me by the gracious Senior Pastor's secretary was very enjoyable. At the conclusion of our walk around the church we ran into Dr. Peter James Flamming, the Senior Pastor of FBC Richmond for the past quarter century. Dr. Flamming gave me a book that contains twelve messages he preached at FBC Richmond. The first message was a very enjoyable read entitled "Punching Holes in the Darkness."

Without going into detail regarding the message, the theme revolved "the beautiful feet of those who share good news" from the book of Isaiah. Dr. Flamming's challenge to his congregation was that they be people who make it a priority to share good news, and in so doing, punch a hole in the darkness around them.

In line with that theme, I would like to use this weekend for commentators on this blog to share some good news about the International Mission Board, whether it be the trustees, administrators, missionaries, support staff, or anecdotal stories about the great things being accomplished by the IMB.

Some have alleged blogs are mostly negative. Though I disagree, I would like to be very intentional in doing my part to get the word out about the good things regarding the IMB.

Come, let's punch some holes together.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

As a practicing Chiropractor, I have taken care of many transient missionaries. Not all were baptist. Without exception, I have found them to be remarkable people. Many were denied worldly pleasures but pressed on. All non baptist said that the Southern baptist were the most taken care of than any group. They had only high regards for the baptist missionaries who were quick to share and encourage/ I am so proud of our missionaries and I believe GOD is too!!

Charlie of Gainesville

Anonymous said...

I am a "not discouraged" missionary serving in CEE. Rodney Hammer is our wonderful regional leader.

I want to share with you why I am not discouraged. For well over a year, we have been trying to get a new work started in Temirtau, Kazakhstan. (I am security level 1 and work openly in Kstan with our Baptist friends here.)

We invited some students from Ukraine to come to Kstan on mission trips this summer. We have had 17 Ukrainians here this summer. Praise the Lord!

Four Ukrainians have been working in Temirtau and this week we had a children's day camp. We started out with 9 children, and by the end of the week we had 37! PTL!

Another praise is that half of the children were Kazakhis and most of them took a children's Bible story book home with them in their own language!!!

So, I pray that we have "punched some holes in the darkness" this week in Kstan!

Joe Ragan
IMB missionary

Bob Cleveland said...


In 1992, our church sponsored a mission trip. We'd gone to Nassau the year before, and had a wonderful trip with about 100 people praying to be saved on the trip. We'd also done construction work on a church, in addition to the backyard bible clubs and evening praise & worship programs.

The 1992 trip was to Red Hills, Jamaica, and we did the same things that year. We met with the SBC missionary there, who was about to retire, and the trip was extremely fruitful in terms of souls, and work on their building.

That started a relationship with FBC Pelham, and Red Hills Baptist Church, that is still ongoing. We've had 4 more trips there, and our family has gone to Jamaica a half dozen times since, always going to Red Hills. I have friends there that I love dearly.

Many of us also learned how to worship in that little church on a hill, outside Kingston.

We've been invited back this November for the dedication of the building we helped them build.

It all started when our mission director called the IMB and asked if there was somewhere we could go for our 1992 trip. I never thought about it before your post, but I personally owe the IMB. Red Hills is an important part of my life.

Thanks for this posting.

OKpreacher said...


After reading your post I feel like Evander Holyfield for Jesus. So here are my holes into the darkness, the IMB is special because they support the very best people in our convention. Our missionaries are precious and courageous. Jerry Rankin is a hero because of his leadership as President of the IMB. I pray that we will see every person on this planet have the opportunity to hear the message of Christ. God have been and continues to use the IMB to make that possible. I hope that exposes some light.


Anonymous said...

Anyone who wants to see how God is using the IMB should read "Voices of the Faithful" and pray each day for the missionary who wrote that day's devotion. Incredible stories, incredible faith, incredible commitment.

If I could I would also share some of the things the missionaries who spoke at our church Wednesday night shared, but since they are from a closed country I cannot. Just know that God is working!

Kiki Cherry said...

Two weeks ago I got to visit with some of our Ms who live in a very dark region of the world. They have been there for years, and have only seen a couple of people come to Christ. They are in such a remote area that they have to carry water into their village, and can only bathe once a week.

And yet there was much rejoicing by Christians in their whole country, because one local family just came out of darkness and into light. This family is now facing persecution, but were willing to choose Christ in spite of the cost!!!

I also got to spend time last Sunday with a dear woman who has been in a Muslim country for 20 years. They are with Frontiers, but have worked closely with many of our SBC missionaries. Together our organizations have seen many churches planted in one of the most extreme Muslim regions of the world.

It was so good to hear stories of cooperation between mission organizations, and how TOGETHER we are "punching holes in the darkness." She and I cried and rejoiced together over some of the stories.

I wish I could share specifics. Some of the things that God is doing would just give you chills. There are amazing testimonies of dreams, visions, and miraculous conversions.

On the field, things are so different. Nationals and missionaries from various groups are one family in Christ. That's the way it should be.

John said...


You dont know me. I am a pastor in a pioneer state. I dont have incidents like others relate but I will tell what touches me, so to speak.

I used to be a faithful reader of the old Commission magazine. I would pour over every word of every story. I rarely failed to be convicted and challenged in my own Christian walk by the faithful work of our IMB missionaries overseas. Two stories (briefly) stick out in my mind.

First was about Dr. Rankin, who was on an inspection trip of work among tribal villagers in a mountainous region. Please forgive me, I forget the continent. But as his party left one village they started down a winding road down a mountain side. Two men from a neighboring village, not involved in the IMB work, ran straight down the mountainside to intercept Dr. Rankin's party. They told him they had heard that holy men had come with the word of God and wanted him to bring this word back to their village.

Another story told of a young girl who had grown up in the bush with her missionary parents. She returned to the US to go to college and had trouble adjusting to all the technology.

These remind me of the sacrifices and triumphs our IMB missionaries have. But also the things they are willing to endure for the word of Christ.

I am a better Christian in the United States because of the faithful missionaries the IMB overseas.

Kevin Bussey said...


I would say that your contagious spirit has punched many holes already!

Anonymous said...

I would like for you to know how much many/most of us here at the IMB appreciate the information that you have communicated through your blog. To paraphrase one of your more recent topics “more communication is a good thing.” Most of us think your blog is a positive tool that has allowed those interested a much better and clearer understanding and appreciation for what goes on at the various meetings conducted by our trustees. It is clear to all of us worker bees that the issues that are discussed and the decisions that are made directly affect the climate of those who work here. There have been several instances in recent years where the climate has been adversely affected. Many, if not most, of the issues that have been mentioned in your blog have been discussed at great length among constituents, volunteers, visitors and staff. It is my opinion that issues inciting such passion need honest and open dialogue and discussions. It is difficult for me to see this type of communication being anything but positive. So I for one think you deserve a round of applause for your willingness to keep on blogging and if individuals disagree and have grounds to justify an argument let them do so in the public arena.

Paul Burleson said...


I've just spent the morning discovering some and reconnecting with some blogs of missionaries sent out through our IMB. I've commented on several and was instantly replied to by some. I'm committed to finding as many as possible and making that same connection. What a delight this morning has been.

As you know, I'm new at this stuff of blogging, but I've created a section of my desktop for "missionaries and their blogs." I have some forty blogs on that desktop but now a missionary section that I'm going to go to and daily and pray for them as I read.

I know this may sound a little corny but [I'm old enough that that doesn't concern me]
I've had a little mini revival going on inside me as this morning has gone along.

I'm would guess missionaries are encouraged when they read blogs, but I know I am when I read their blogs. This is a "little" hole punched in the darkness but it's mine and I'm having a ball with it.


Anonymous said...

We Southern Baptists really have a great model for supporting our World Wide Evangelistic work -- The Cooperative Program.

My wife and I were members of a Baptist Church in the Conservative Baptist Association for about 30 years. The Conservative Baptist Association is virtually identical to the SBC in terms of doctrine.

However, Conservative Baptists lack any type of unified funding mechanism like the Cooperative Program. I have seen first hand missionary that candidates take years (I mean LITERALLY YEARS) to line up their support before they can go on the field.

There may be a number of "rays of light" that brighten the path in our walk in the SBC. I'd say the CP is definately a high-candlepower source.

Both the IMB and the NASB as well as the seminaries benefit.

Lets keep this light shining brightly!

Christopher Redman said...

I also believe that blogging is not always negative even though there are some negative people who blog. I have found many benefits and positive ministry's taking place. Some blogs I haver disagreed with and others I have fellowshiped with.

This was a good post and a refreshing reminder that genuine ministry can take place over the blogosphere.


Anonymous said...

I would join the "chorus" of folks "Blessed" from my childhood by Missionaries supported by the CP! "Uncle
Sam" provided some opportunities for travel and I was encouraged and touched by the lives of several during those times!
I was reminded as a Believer by those who had responded voluntarily, that while traveling out of my cultural setting, I too should consider myself a missionary! I did "grow" to accept that challenge, though having to work through resentment of involuntary enlistment! :)
Incidently, I do not consider myself a "Blogger"
but rather a commentator on some of the "weblogs" I read, but relative to those who feel this is a "Negative" tool, I would remind them of the Scriptural record! Many of the events recorded in Scripture were candid and often specifically negative with the call to repentance and CHANGE! I've been a regular reader of weblogs for almost two years and I'm personally grateful to see issues discussed and evaluated that have crossed over the idealogical limits of peer groups. Though, often differing opinions are expressed and even different "interpretations" of Scriptural passages, I believe most have maintained a socially acceptable venue, even when there hasn't been site regulation by the "Blogger"! I would go so far as to say; I believe there has been more interpersonal admonishment at things that might be slightly over the limit or maybe at least questionable by other "Bloggers" than I have ever seen demonstrated by the Religious or Secular Media Editors (either in Editorial Comment, or divergent written items!).
I would encourage all of you to continue "punching holes in the darkness"!

Anonymous said...

My life is enhanced everyday by the IMB-published "Voices of the Faithful" devotional book with each day's story written by a different missionary. What an inspiration and what a challenge!

Mike said...

I'm a Southern Baptist, but (and?!) a missionary with a parachurch ministry. The work IMB missionaries have done, and continue to do, is invaluable to me and my organization. So many times we stand on their shoulders, using their information to help us spread the gospel and plant churches.

They are, at times, our best "cultural interpreters." And, because of the cooperative nature of the IMB, they can perform specific tasks that we can't. These tasks, again, pave the way for us to plant churches and expose N. Americans to the ends of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Having served 7 years with the IMB, second career, we have seen first hand the commitment and in many cases the sacrifice young (and older) people are making because of their desire to see people come to faith. They deserve our prayers and support....perhaps a better understanding by BOT people.

And since our retirement, we continue to be blessed by having made 27 short term mission trips (3 weeks to 3 months)to places like China, Africa, Europe South America...ALWAYS through the IMB or connecting with IMB representativies. Aren't we fortunate to have these opportunities?

Ann and Rosa, we share your feelings about Voices of the Faithful, and know some of the writers. John, I too remember the Commission articles.

Finally Punching Holes in the Darkness.....years ago an Irish kid, watching a lamp lighter going from lamp to lamp, called to his dad and said "Come dad and see a man punching holes in the darkness". Hear that 40 years ago!

Anonymous said...


I'm an encourage IMB missioary. Thanks for blogging. It is informative and it keeps me in the loop. While people can differ on issues, the simple act of getting issues out and on the table is not bad. I appreciate the opportunity blogging provides to increase communications.

I want to say that I'm encouraged by the IMB because this organization has given me the opportunity to minister freely to my people group. I've been encouraged by my leadership at every turn. I'm extremely gratified in my work and am thankful for the support I have received from my leadership, both on the field, in Richmond and on the board of trustees. Thanks,

Chuck Andrews said...


The first remembrance I have of encountering a SBC missionary was when I was about 5 years old. For years I would go to RA (Royal Ambassadors) camp every summer and there would always be a missionary there to share and show. Then it was called the Foreign Mission Board. I remember missionaries from Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Asia, and other fascinating places. Since those long ago days, I’ve been on a couple of mission trips to Brazil and Mexico and have met and worked with some of our SBC missionaries. Over the past 27 years of ministry our churches have cooperated with other SBC churches in a world wide gospel spreading impact we now call International Missions. Next year I will turn 50 years old and I’ve met and heard numerous missionaries over those years. Whether it was called the FMB or the IMB, it is a great heritage and a worthy legacy to be left to a future generation. The missionaries are the heroes and countless holes have been punched in the darkness by them. God help us to continue to enable them with a board that gives gracious guidance but not constricting control and churches that give financial and prayerful support.


Rex Ray said...

To get comments printed on your blog reminds me of baseball—I think I’ve hit a homerun but it’s called a foul ball. Sometimes I think Conservatives vs. Moderates the umps are one-sided.
I will try again on commenting of our local mission trip a few years ago to a Muslim country.
The missionaries there were undercover. One missionary’s father was with us. Three weeks before we got there, 300 Muslims beat every person (including kids) that had met in a non-Muslim church. They did not call themselves Christians but Believers. There, the only word hated more than Christian was Baptists.

Our goal was to build an internet cafĂ© on a 100 year least on a plot of land. Another church had purchased a lot of computers that could be used for a small fee by a nearby university. The university was so poor, it had very few computers. The building was to have a movie ‘house’ where any movies could be shown without inspection.
We were disappointed the land papers had not been finalized. We split up in three groups and the group I was in built book shelves for the university.
The fourth day we were there, one of the Muslim interpreters accepted Christ. We were told not to witness to anyone. I played quite a bit of Ping-Pong with him and he asked if I believe in drinking alcohol. (Muslims believe it’s wrong but not many obey.) I told him I had never had one drink of wine or beer in my life. He seemed amazed.

A year or so later the project was completed by several other mission groups.

Last night, the missionary that guided us, was at our church as we had a birthday party for one of her relatives. She is on medical leave. Her father has had a jail ministry for many years. I saw her last year at her mother’s funeral. She has devoted her life to missions without ever marrying. She didn’t know anything about your blog and didn’t want to talk of any problems on the field…said she had too much to do for the Lord than worry about politics. She is a great lady.
Rex Ray