By Kayla Rinker
SPRINGFIELD – As the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting draws near, International Mission Board (IMB) Missionaries Keith and Wendy Wofford and Cevin and Shannon S. are looking forward to reconnecting with old friends while at the same time, developing new friendships with Missouri Baptists.
They will represent the IMB at its exhibit this year and while there, the missionaries plan to share with Missouri Baptists what being a missionary is all about.
“We want to help people see that the mission field is wherever they are,” said Cevin S., whose last name must be protected because of his work in a Security Level 3 location. “People often have a romantic idea of missions but we don’t need to segregate the mission field anymore. We need to mobilize people whether they are on some distant shore or in their own backyard.”
A Missouri native, Cevin grew up in the St. Louis area and graduated from Southwest Baptist University (SBU). During his missionary journey with the IMB, Cevin and Shannon have spent five years working in central Asia and another five years in south Asia. For the last seven years, the couple has been working in Homburg, Germany, as a church planting strategist doing what he calls DNA work.
“We want to be the church every day of the week,” Cevin said. “DNA is the smallest but most crucial component to making that happen. ‘D’ is a Divine Relationship with God through Jesus, ‘N’ is the Nurturing Relationship we need to have with each other, and ‘A’ is an Apostolic Relationship we should have with the lost. That’s our goal and that’s where our love needs to be.”
The Woffords also grew up in Missouri. Keith moved to West Plains from California when he was 14 and Wendy grew up in Carthage. The couple also graduated from SBU and Keith worked bi-vocationally as a youth and music minister before attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas, and eventually being appointed to the IMB in 1998.
“We sensed God calling us to Eastern Ukraine after seeing a job request that matched both of our gifts and passions and upon hearing that God was at work in that part of the world,” Wofford said. “We are church planters and specifically, we work in urban areas doing urban evangelism to start churches. My specific role is that of Team Strategy Leader. It involves leading a team of three other units to reach an area in Eastern Ukraine that has about the same population as that of Missouri and Arkansas combined Less than 2 percent of its population is born-again. Because the majority of the people are Orthodox or Atheists, the people are not as receptive to the Gospel as they were in the early 90s. In the largest city of Eastern Ukraine, Kharkov, there is only one church for every 25,000 people.”
While representing the IMB, both missionaries wish to use their experience on the international field to inspire a renewed excitement for the Great Commission to Missouri Baptists.
“We want Missouri Baptists to continue to push to the edge of lostness by going to the ends of the earth,” Wofford said. “We now, more than ever, need to accelerate our efforts in fulfilling the task of the Great Commission. Jesus is coming soon!”