CALIFORNIA—Pastor Greg Morrow of First Baptist Church did not feel led to incorporate a sermon into the April 15 evening session of Great Commission Day.
“The sermon was preached by the event,” he said.
With so much light being streamed out into so many corners of the globe, about all Morrow had to do was to point, smile and nod from around the pulpit. He made sure that during the day people would be freely celebrating the church’s vibrant partnerships with Puerto Rico, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, and El Salvador.
At one point in the evening the church commissioned 20 short-term missionaries to Mexico, the United Kingdom, and El Salvador. Morrow, who has served at First California for 16 years, noted that the London and Mexico teams would be totally led by laymen. In fact, he said, the key to all of the effectiveness right now on the mission field flowing through the congregation that runs about 300 in Sunday worship is a good supply of lay leaders who are living out Acts 1:8.
“We have never had this many mission experiences happening simultaneously, but this has been the way the Lord led this year, and so we’ve just said, if the Lord has led, the Lord will resource, and He has, and He is,” Morrow said. “There is a lot of synergy right now, and that is what happened in the Book of Acts. The synergy is the Holy Spirit. It is how the Holy Spirit worked in and through the church.”
Morrow said March 18 was an important date.
“In a Sunday evening church the entire church mobilized and we went out into our community by twos,” he said. “In a five-square-block area around our church, we sought to contact every home where we did not know where people lived. It began there and moved on to our missions fair today and our Great Commission Day, which is meant to be a point of inspiration and launching for these mission trips.”
Here is how First California is going to deploy its missionaries: Mexico in May; El Salvador in July; London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in July and August; Puerto Rico in August; and Ukraine in September.
The morning of April 15 began with a Hispanic baptizing a Bulgarian. Ministries from Puerto Rico, the African nation of Burkina Faso, and New Orleans were all represented in the order of service before Vasil Tsiupko, associate pastor, Boryslav Baptist Church, Ukraine, preached.
In the evening service, Morrow distributed separate monetary gifts on behalf of the church to Holy Anointed House of Prayer, New Orleans, Ukranian Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Sheltering Wings orphanage in Burkina Faso. There also was an extended retirement celebration for Eduardo Soto Padin, pastor of Evangelical Church of the Word in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, a ministry partner of First California since 2002.
One of Morrow’s more deeply held principles when it comes to global missions work is that California is located within two hours of any place on the planet. By this he means it only takes about two hours to get to either of Missouri’s two major airports in Kansas City or St. Louis.
“We can be in Ukraine probably as quick as the disciples could get from Jerusalem to Antioch, and certainly from Jerusalem to Philippi, or Jerusalem to Rome,” he said. “The whole world is at our fingertips.”
He emphasized that it does not a take a church of several hundred members to do what First California is doing.
“I think the size is not nearly as important as we often think,” he said. “We often think that the size of the church is what empowers the resources to be on mission, when in reality, if we think of that, and go back to Acts 1:8, these were people that had no resources as we know them today.”