By Allen Palmeri
ARNOLD—One of the pieces that Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Partnership Missions Specialist Rick Hedger is putting into place for his foreign missions emphasis is a tribal village training camp in Ozark where Missouri Baptists can prepare for the rigors of West Africa.
Randy Copeland, who has spent seven years working with two unreached people groups in Mali, runs School to the Nations. He is missions pastor for Stonebridge Church, Nixa, and was promoted by Hedger here at First Baptist Church as a key breakout session leader Sept. 9 during the Western Gateway Summit and Base Camp 1. Copeland takes his training role very seriously.
“My biggest heart is discipleship to reach the nations—mobilizing and preparing teams,” he said. “I have a goal of 70 percent of what it would take to immerse them as close to that culture as possible.”
Simulating the eating, sleeping, drinking and cultural customs of Africa at his manufactured village in Missouri is what Copeland enjoys doing. A short-term mission team from a Missouri Baptist church might be steered his way for an isolated weekend of training that may, if done right, pay big dividends in Africa.
“It would be likened unto a boot camp,” Copeland said.
He has noticed a certain spiritual heaviness and emotional pain as representatives of local churches seem unsure of how to get in the flow of obeying the Great Commission through an unreached people group in West Africa.
“They may not know how to adequately train a team to face what’s out there, and the resources that are available,” Copeland said. “I had to, by God’s grace, kind of carve that out myself. The International Mission Board helped me tremendously because I could go to conferences, but in essence I’m still learning what it takes.”
He said that part of his calling is “reloading the mission force, stirring the hearts of people.” To do that he must recognize and reinforce certain traits.
“I always teach that leadership does not have to know how to do everything,” he said. “You just have to know the different gifts of the body of Christ and know how to identify them and empower them.”
One of the slogans displayed on www.schooltothenations.com is “Penetrating the Final Frontiers by Mobilizing the Next Generation.” It thrills him every time an unreached people group acquires a Gospel partner.
“It’s the mystery of the call,” Copeland said. “My flesh would rather stay home and play with my granddaughter, but that burning fire that He puts in us, to go and face your fears—it’s tough. Sometimes I think it would maybe be easier just to stay on the field, but I think they have a harder calling.”