Rick Hedger has seen the light – that is, the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shining in dark places. As Partnership Missions strategist and team leader for Missional Evangelism/Discipleship, Hedger feels powerfully compelled to obey Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all people.
Along with other Missouri Baptists, Hedger is helping awaken Missouri’s more than 1,900 Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches to the greatest challenge the world has ever known: taking the gospel to every corner of the earth.
Of the nearly 7 billion people in the world today, only 2 billion profess to be Christians, and that number includes a very loose adherence to Judeo-Christian values. Of the remaining number, roughly 1.7 billion are waiting to hear the gospel for the first time.
Hedger sums up his calling this way: “I am compelled as a mission mobilizer to sound the call to Missouri Baptist pastors and churches to advance the gospel into dark places.”
Missouri Baptists are working together in increasing numbers. As a result, the gospel is moving forward, sometimes inch-by-inch.
In July of 2012, multiple MBC churches converged on West Africa. Each church is now working with a different people group scattered throughout the region. “I did not orchestrate for all of the MBC churches to be on the ground there at the same time,” says Hedger. “God calendared the event! When I arrived and witnessed the diversity and mere force of MBC presence, I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving.”
He continues: “It was an incredible display of how Southern Baptists accomplish God’s mission. Each church had in some way received support through the Partnership Missions office; each church was serving alongside a missionary from the International Mission Board (IMB); each was utilizing IMB guest housing and transportation. The generous giving of Missouri Baptists through the Cooperative Program touched every aspect of mobilization of those MBC churches. Even more importantly, the people groups served were hearing the gospel, many for the first time.”
Currently, there are 17 MBC churches engaging people groups in the Western Gateway Cluster. “This is frontier gospel advancement,” says Hedger.
Missouri Baptists also are being called to the newest partnership with the Puebla-Tlaxcala Baptist Convention. “There are 80 Mexican churches committed to seeing 10,000 baptisms, 100 new church starts by 2020,” he reports. “Research indicates that approximately 100 unreached/unengaged people groups are also within our partnership region. Darkness is thick; the gospel is desperately needed.”
Residents of post-Christian Ontario, Canada, are experiencing gospel advancement as MBC churches partner to plant 20 new churches by 2020 across a vast area absent of an evangelical witness.
Upstate New York, where the gospel once flourished, is now less than 1.6 percent evangelized. “The Northeast Partnership has claimed my heart with force,” says Hedger. I am asking the Lord of the Harvest to call out Missouri pastors and churches to take the gospel back to the Northeast.”
Hedger notes that without the generous giving of Missouri Baptists through the Cooperative Program, the work could not be done: “Because of the generous giving of MBC churches, we are seeing gospel advancement in very dark places. Thank you, Missouri Baptists, for caring, praying, going and giving.”