Greetings to the two family members and three friends that regularly check my blog. Over the next three days I’m going to lay out what looks like to be options for my immediate future. Today, I want to write about my upcoming IMB Interview in Richmond, VA and some of the pros and cons of serving with them.
On Tuesday I am leaving to spend the better part of a week in Richmond, VA at the International Mission Board’s International Learning Center. About 185 of us in at least three categories are exploring God’s call to overseas missions this. We are hearing presentations from Ministry Leaders from all of the IMB’s International Regions. There is an extensive library where we can research those regions and their people groups. We have small group times and numerous interviews scheduled throughout the week.
It’s been a long road to get here! I began the online application process from Cambodia last September after meeting three young women in Thailand last August who were working with the IMB. I had long considered serving with the IMB, but meeting those girls solidified my decision to begin the application process. I was thoroughly impressed by them. They were all working in very non-traditional jobs in Bangkok and that appealed to me.
I have mentioned in other blogs I think and to many of my readers in person that my prayer is to know by the end of this week IF I want to serve with IMB.
IMB is a Southern Baptist organization. I’m obviously comfortable with the theology. The IMB offers phenomenal support- their missionaries are paid pretty well, have the best insurance and benefits package available and are supported emotionally and otherwise. If there is ever a problem on the field…or even back home… these guys will take care of you and do it well.
But because it is a monster-big organization there’s a certain amount of bureaucracy involved and that might be my biggest “con”. There’s a lot of accountability, which is a good thing…but a laborious thing. While visiting with some IMB friends in Eastern Europe a few months ago, we were presented with an opportunity to be a part of what I felt like was an incredible “Kingdom Event” taking place there. I felt like the IMB should have been in the forefront of this “event”. Instead, in my opinion they were so overly concerned about not appearing to dictate to their national hosts what ministries they should and shouldn’t be involved with and likely because the event wasn’t “theirs” to begin with…that they missed the biggest gathering of Christian students in a former Soviet bloc country ever. That’s the bureaucracy I’m talking about. I “get” authority and serving under a national host and all that but not at the expense of missing something so huge.
Another “con” is while there appears to be some flexibility in creating job assignments, most of them to me seem to be cookie-cutter positions and I’m not sure that’s what I want to do. I appreciate their efforts to spend the majority of their resources developing Church Planting Movements but I feel like there has to be more emphasis on social and justice issues as well. The old adage “People don’t care what (or who) you know until they know that you care” applies. I think I want to basically be the “Youth Minister” for an orphanage somewhere in Ukraine. I want to be a constant presence in the lives of a bunch of kids. I want to develop ministries and programs that will teach them how to live once they leave the orphanage. I would obviously be involved in a church while I’m doing that. I would want to meet people and disciple them which I think would turn out to be a church planting movement. In other words- I think I want to serve Orphans and be an “Incidental Church Planter”. The difference as I see it is that I would be intimately involved in the lives of kids while being a discipler and church planter and not a Church Planter that may or may not have meaningful relationships with kids. Maybe it’s a fine distinction, I don’t know.
I really am praying that I’ll see and hear something that will convince me otherwise in regard to my “cons” of serving with IMB. If I can do what I feel like the Lord is calling me to do with them…then that’s my first choice.