O’FALLON—With a parade of missionaries and dozens of national flags carried by youth, the sixth Global Missions Conference was held Oct. 17-20 here at First Baptist Church.
Tom Hufty, former interim pastor of the church, said that all Christians are missionaries and all have a role to “evangelize, equip, and encourage” those who are doing missions work. Hufty is the former vice president and assistant to the president at Hannibal-LaGrange University who is now pastor of First Baptist Church, Maryville, Ill.
He explained that short-term missions trips and projects provide opportunities to see how God’s work is being done in ways that can’t be experienced at home. Though not all can participate in a project they can equip those who can through prayer, financial or resource support, he said. Those who do participate in a local, national, or international activity also encourage the full-time workers in those ministries.
Among the missionaries attending were Francois and Daleen Boshoff, who attend First Baptist Church, St. Peters.
“I enjoy meeting the multicultural missionaries,” said Francois Boshoff. “There’s nothing else like (it) locally.”
The Boshoffs direct the Mailbox Club International, producing children’s literature about the gospel in different languages. Their work in 96 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia with a staff of 45,000 volunteer and full-time workers is managed from suburban St. Louis.
Steve and Judy Smith of First Baptist Church, Arnold, direct Focus On Missions (FOM). Focus On Missions works with pastors in Matamoros, Mexico, in medical clinics, evangelism, prison ministry, and English classes. FOM also hosts eyeglass clinics in Mexico and the United States in impoverished areas.
“Networking—that’s it,” said Steve Smith. “Here are these other missionaries and because of this missions conference we have established a friendship and a relationship (with other groups) and that would not have happened” otherwise.
As an example, he said at an earlier conference he learned of World Impact, a St. Louis inner-city ministry. The two groups have since worked together to hold clinics and provide eyeglasses to residents of one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods.
Alan and Beth Locke and their children, Melissa, 19, and Ben, 15, are on furlough from their work in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Alan is an International Mission Board evangelism leader. He explained that mission trips can help people respond to the need for workers in ripe mission fields.
“We talk about the harvest,” he said. “We train for the harvest. We can pray for it. But, to actually bring in the harvest you have to go into the field.”
The Oasis Church is a 2-year-old church plant a few miles north of First O’Fallon. Oasis also partners with the Missouri Baptist Convention and Twin Rivers Baptist Association. Tom and Vicky Simmons are the church planters and have been part of two earlier conferences at First O’Fallon. Tom said he enjoys “hanging out with other missionaries. You learn from them.”
First O’Fallon Associate Pastor Lee Sanders said that “hanging out” is part of the three-fold purpose of the mission week focus. Church members “get to meet [missionaries] and hear their stories and pray for them and see them as real people.”