Fresh into the new millennium, the US was forever altered by the September 11, 2001, attacks. Their impact was felt keenly in New York City. Our NYC missionaries made strategic use of BMM’s World Relief funds to minister to terrorized people at Ground Zero. They also gave out over 100,000 pieces of literature and offered food, shelter, and counsel to many. A number of people gave their lives to Christ or returned to Him—a bright outcome from a dark moment in history.
The attacks plunged the world into wary vigilance as terrorism threaded its way into daily life. Yet the priority of the gospel superseded fear. As a new Medals for Glory outreach was planned for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, not one volunteer backed out because of terrorism’s danger. Those volunteers introduced Christ to people from 90 countries.
Terrorism did impact Brazil missionary John Leonard on a Sunday evening in July 2005. He was targeted by assailants and shot multiple times, leaving him paralyzed. John refused to turn from his calling, and today he continues serving in Brazil from his wheelchair.
Multiple uprisings in Africa in the 1990s created great upheaval in missionaries’ ministries. Missionaries realized more and more the need to nationalize their ministries as quickly as possible in the event of their sudden departure. At the same time, nationals already leading ministries requested BMM’s help to enhance their work. The 2000s saw escalating growth in missionary/national partnerships. In the Dominican Republic, BMM and Dominican leaders teamed to create the ¡PlayBall! baseball outreach (banner photo), a Spanish literature distributorship, and a seminary upgrade. Similar partnerships were launched or strengthened in Jamaica, France, Canada, Brazil, England, and India. In 2005, Brazil missionaries Joel and Joanie Troester joined with Brazilian missionaries to team church plant in Mozambique, our first such effort.
In 2000, Baptist Mid-Missions unveiled a new logo, which has been used for the last 20 years. In 2002, BMM President Gary Anderson announced a Mission-wide strategic planning initiative. He saw the need to plan with foresight to fuel the pursuit of excellence, foster creativity, and reward cooperation. In the ensuing years, BMM increased the effectiveness of our candidature process, instituted an annual missionary enrichment conference, launched our website, and boosted our short-term programs with FirstLook and TeenConnect for college and high school students.
Months of strategic planning yielded our mission statement, “Baptist Mid-Missions exists to strategically advance the building of Christ’s church, with His passion and for His glory, in vital partnership with Baptist churches worldwide.” Vernon Rosenau, then field administrator for Africa and Europe, was named Director of Strategic Plan Implementation. He organized the training of missionaries who would lead other missionary teams in forming their own strategic plans. These trainers fanned out within their continents to help create forward-thinking plans that have increased our missionaries’ effectiveness to this day.
Sports outreaches and refugee ministries expand, and nationals gain tools to reach their own people.