FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (BP) – Growing up in Brazil, Thiago Montanher de Queiroz came to know Christ at 10 years old and early on felt God calling’s to follow Him into international missions.
As an adult while attending a local seminary, Montanher had a professor of missions and church planting – an International Mission Board missionary – who helped confirm and encourage his calling.
“[The missionary’s] love for the nations was contagious, and I have never seen anyone so passionate about the Gospel,” Montanher said.
The missionary continually reminded Montanher that not only does Brazil need the Gospel, but so do other nations. Montanher recalled conversations where the missionary asked, “Now what are you going to do about the other millions that have no access to the Gospel?”
“It has been years since he challenged me last, but those words still resound in my heart with great burden, and I believe with no doubt that my call in this life is to carry the ministry of the Gospel to the nations,” Montanher said.
Now, Montanher has become an IMB missionary himself. He was one of the 42 missionaries appointed in a service at Spotswood Baptist Church of Fredericksburg, Va., Aug. 26. Montanher, his wife Liana and two daughters will serve among Sub-Saharan African peoples.
IMB President David Platt addressed the packed crowd in the church’s sanctuary, speaking on Matthew 4:18-22, where Jesus is calling His first disciples, and particularly verse 19: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (ESV).
Those two simple words – “Follow Me” – are the essence of what it means to be a Christian, Platt said. Breaking down this phrase, Platt first discussed who is the “Me” being followed. In the first four chapters of Matthew alone, Platt noted, Jesus is described 20 different ways, including the Savior, Center of History, Righteous Judge, Light of the World and Hope for All Nations.
“This Jesus is clearly and absolutely worthy of far more than nominal adherence or casual association,” Platt said. “Let us not patronize Him. He’s infinitely worthy of all glory in all the universe, and He doesn’t need us at all. We need Him. … He is worthy of supreme adoration and total abandonment.”
Platt then discussed what it means to “follow” Jesus:
• To live with radical abandonment for His glory. “Leaving behind, laying down, abandoning everything in your life doesn’t make sense until you realize who Jesus is,” Platt said. “But when you realize who He is, when you realize who Christ the King is – laying, leaving, abandoning all these things is the only thing that makes sense.”
• To live with total dependence on Him. “Who among us wants our lives to be summed up by what we can accomplish on our own?” he asked. “Don’t we want to be used by our King to do things that we could never do on our own?”
• To live with faithful adherence to His person. “Followers of Jesus are those for whom Christ is their life. Missions is not your life, Christ is your life,” Platt said.
• To be “fishers of men.” To be a disciple is to be disciple-maker. All Christians are called to tell people how they can know Jesus as Savior. “This is not an extraordinary picture, this is an ordinary Christian picture – to say ‘I’ll go wherever You want me to go,’” Platt said.
With 4.5 billion people in the world without Christ and several billion who have never even heard how they can go to heaven, “we don’t have time to waste living out a nice comfortable, Christian spin on the American dream. It makes no sense whatsoever,” Platt said.
“To follow this King in this world, it means total abandonment, dependence on His grace, adherence to His person and urgent obedience to His mission.”
Trustees’ board meeting
The service marked the conclusion of IMB trustees’ August board meeting, which was held in Richmond, Va. During the plenary session, Platt spoke about the essential role of the local church in missions, as signified by the appointment service at a local church.
“That’s the whole beauty of this convention,” Platt said. “It’s not about churches farming out mission to a mission board. It’s about churches taking responsibility for mission and a mission board helping them do that – because no one church can do this alone.
“I want to be crystal clear: the IMB does not exist to usurp the role of the local church in the accomplishment of the Great Commission. The IMB exists to serve the local church in the accomplishment of the Great Commission.”
In fall 2015, Platt said, IMB will pilot a training event aimed at equipping local churches to become centers for global mission. The event will arm pastors and church leaders to see the unique role God has given them to play in the Great Commission and to develop an intentional strategy for leading their local church to make disciples right where they live and all around the world.
The next appointment service will be Nov. 8 at First Baptist Church of New Orleans, La. The trustees’ next meeting will also be held in New Orleans, Nov. 5-6.