By Mitch Shiffer
KANSAS CITY—On Jan. 1, 2010, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) joined efforts with the Western Gateway Cluster for the purpose of bringing the Gospel to people groups not yet evangelized.
The partnership is designed to reach people of the Sub-Saharan African region. It consists of four different aspects and associated participants.
One of these aspects is referred to as the Engaging partnership. This aspect of the partnership is a local church or organization that will actually have members of the church as missionaries in the field. This aspect does not last for a particular frame of time, but would remain as long as needed to reach people with the Gospel and for them to hear and learn of Christ. This partner would be in the field multiple times a year and would engage in getting other churches to participate.
MBC Partnership Missions Specialist Rick Hedger commented on Engaging churches.
“Many of the 255 distinct people groups living in the Western Gateway Cluster area have less than 100,000 population,” he said. “These people groups need someone to take the Gospel to them. A local church can be that entity where no one else has gone.”
The South Kansas City Baptist Church went to consider and seek the Lord’s will in becoming one of the Engaging partners. Recently, they sent a three-person team on a 12-day mission trip to Mali, Africa, from May 24-June 5.
Their involvement began when South Kansas City Baptist Pastor Jeff Logsdon and trip participant and South Kansas City Baptist Member Andrew Higginbotham spoke with two Western Gateway Cluster missionaries from Mali during the last MBC annual meeting in October.
“It was a blessing to encourage the missionaries who are on the field there,” Logsdon said.
The team was working with two to three people groups who will not be named for security reasons. Team members would survey various areas and villages seeking religious and cultural background. Evenings they would give Bible stories which are shortened. In African culture, stories hold a degree of popularity, and villagers listened to the Bible stories.
Higginbotham said they were well received.
“We went two weeks prior to planting season to take the Gospel to villages that had not been reached,” Higginbotham said.
Sparse population in Mali cities and distance between them can make mission field destinations difficult to reach. Population in deserts between cities is even less. Due to this, not many mission teams have been there.
Higginbotham noted that a need was established for further trips because of this factor. He also spoke about culture shock that first-time missionaries experienced and how that mixed with other expectations.
“It was what we expected and not what we expected at the same time,” he said.
Higginbotham also talked about the impressions he developed during the duration of the trip. He said Christianity seemed to be characterized incorrectly more by lifestyle. He noticed the need for truth.
“The two things that stood out to me were the hospitality of the African people and how desperately they need the complete Gospel,” Higginbotham said.