This article first appeared in the spring 2011 issue of BMM's Advance magazine.
Many years ago, God planted His soul-saving passion in a missionary named William Haas. William’s heart burned to make the Good News known to African people who had never heard of it before. The Lord blessed with many souls saved as Haas spoke that Word in central Africa. Sent out through an interdenominational mission agency, William eventually severed ties with that agency and tried to go it alone—a choice that proved extremely difficult to maintain.
He sought a Baptist sending agency that adhered steadfastly to the fundamental truths of the Bible, but he knew of none. He returned to the US and presented this need every time he spoke in churches. Soon, a core group of conservative Baptist pastors stood with him. The group convened and founded an organization through which churches could confidently send out missionaries that would plant biblical Baptist churches. It was the first independent Baptist mission agency of its kind.
That agency was the General Council of Cooperating Baptist Missions of North America, later renamed “Baptist Mid-Missions”— conceived in the heart of our missionary founder, William Haas, and brought to life through Christ-honoring churches more than 90 years ago.
Today, we at Baptist Mid-Missions are honored to continue this ministry in partnership with Baptist churches and their missionaries, having the same passion to assist the Lord’s work with His strength and in His way.
By nature, our work is a behind-the-scenes ministry. Many people are surprised, however, by the beehive of activity taking place inside the walls of Baptist Mid-Missions’ Home Office. In this issue, be our special guest as we take you on the grand tour.
A Partnership of Synergy
Baptist Mid-Missions is privileged to serve in a three-way missions partnership with churches and their missionaries. Undeniably, missions has become an increasingly complex endeavor. By shouldering the load of specialized support tasks required for missionary service, we help empower churches to spend more of their time and efforts on their own missions work, winning the lost in their communities. Here’s how we help:
It all starts with the local church
To serve churches’ needs, Baptist Mid-Missions’ Church Relations and Enlistment Department makes known what is going on around the world so that churches and individuals can be involved, whether through prayer, support, or serving. For those planning missions conferences, we assist with speakers, videos, literature, and information. For those desiring to serve, we organize programs for teenagers up to retirees. Our TeenConnect, FirstLook, and ¡Arriba! programs give high school and college students hands-on exposure to God’s work around the world. For adults, we offer TASK and medical missions trips for those with specialized skills, plus short-term service opportunities lasting up to two years. Special projects such as our ¡Playball! baseball outreach and Medals for Glory sports evangelism involve people of all ages.
Launching into missionary service
When a church is ready to send out missionaries full-time, we make every effort to prepare the missionaries as fully as possible for the assignment to which God calls them. Our Enlistment Representatives invest long hours with missions students at Bible colleges to answer questions and offer counsel on determining where to serve. Each missionary applicant is carefully screened, which gives potential supporting churches confidence that the missionary’s doctrine and character are biblically sound.
Each new missionary attends our Candidate Seminar, a week of intensive training to prepare him or her for deputation. Classes taught by former missionaries and other specialists in their areas cover church presentations, financial management, interpersonal relationships, health maintenance, and more. Our Publications and Video Departments create high-quality prayer cards, brochures, displays, and video presentations, all offered at cost or for minimal fees.
During missionary appointees’ deputation period, we stand alongside them, offering encouragement and insights from those who have gone through this process. Once appointees reach 65 percent of their support, they return to the Home Office for our week-long Launch Seminar, which readies them for arrival on their mission field. This second series of classes delves into topics that include culture shock, missionary-national relationships, discipleship, and church-planting strategies.
To determine accurate support needs, our Missionary Finance Department researches cost-of-living expenses for all our fields. This department also serves as the personalized “banker” that on-field missionaries call on for fund transfers and financial inquiries.
Comprehensive on-field care
There is rejoicing in the Home Office when word comes that a missionary appointee has reached full support and is ready to embark on full-time missions in his or her new field. At this stage, Field Administrators become missionaries’ primary Home Office contacts. Our four Field Administrators serve as liaisons between missionaries and their churches. While maintaining final authority, sending churches delegate authority for their missionaries’ day-to-day oversight to us through the Field Administrators. This responsibility is taken very seriously, and for them it’s not just a 40-hour-a-week job. Field Administrators make themselves accessible 24/7 for any emergency needs.
As former missionaries themselves, Field Administrators help coach missionaries through what they describe as “all matters of life and living.” To help in their adjustment, new on-field missionaries receive a visit from their administrator during their first term. Administrators advise missionaries on building projects and church issues, help them resolve conflicts, and offer counsel regarding personal matters.
Missionaries can also draw on an extensive support staff in the Home Office to meet other practical needs. Our Medical Department keeps current on missionary-specific health issues and helps with prescription drug needs for missionaries in developing countries. Through our Benefits Department, we offer group health insurance tailored to the needs of domestic and foreign missionaries. With knowledge in IRS regulations for foreign residents and in applicable deductions for those in Christian service, the BMM Tax Department prepares missionary returns.
An example of Home Office teamwork happened during the January 2010 Haiti earthquake. Field Administrators worked in conjunction with our Crisis Management Team to determine the status of our missionaries and their safety. They verified and transmitted communications with family members and supporting churches. Because we didn’t know if one of the missionaries had access to critically needed medicines, the Medical Department created a back-up plan to get them to him, if needed. The Director of BMM’s Bibles International (a Haitian national) and BMM administrators flew to Haiti to assess needs. They coordinated the use of World Relief funds to help BMM missionaries and a team of Haitian Baptist church leaders meet needs and share the gospel. Our World Relief program collects funds from concerned donors and forwards them to BMM missionaries in crisis situations around the world. Since 1990, 2.5 million dollars have been distributed.
The power of strength in numbers
Just as we operate with teamwork in the Home Office, years of experience have shown us that the missionary Ministry Team concept multiplies Great Commission effectiveness. Missionaries on all BMM fields are organized into Ministry Teams, allowing them to pool resources and personnel to develop Bible colleges, camps, large-scale evangelistic outreaches, and other ministries that boost church-planting. Additionally, Field Administrators collaborate with Ministry Teams to initiate forward-looking strategic planning—culturally insightful plans that help develop well-discipled nationals who can lead strong Baptist churches long after the missionaries’ work is completed.
Because of the stresses and isolation that foreign missionaries and their children can face, Field Administrators host on-field Enrichment Conferences. In the last several years, missionaries working in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific region have convened for refreshment from Bible speakers, MK activities, and what we term cross-pollination—the invaluable interchange of ministry ideas. For the entire BMM Missionary Family, we host a summer Annual Conference packed with workshops and excellent Bible teaching. The activities and fellowship are restorative for all who attend.
More behind-the-scenes assistance
With our connections and knowledge in obtaining government recognition, we can secure missionary entrance into foreign countries. Many foreign governments have missionary quotas and will admit only those missionaries that come from a recognized agency. We also enable missionaries to gain entrance into Creative Access Nations.
Our role is to help care for missionaries’ needs from the time of their appointment, continuing into their retirement years. Missionary Finance and Stewardship Departments help older missionaries develop plans to care for their retirement needs, and the Benefits Department manages their retirement assets. We now have multiple retired missionary couples leading our Retiree Care ministry by communicating with fellow retirees about service opportunities and missions updates and by being a listening ear for elderly retirees.
The other side of the coin: Donor Care
How about the donors whose sacrificial gifts keep missionaries on-field and keep the Home Office operating? We care for their needs too. Our hard-working Accounting Department processes 8,000 gifts and receipts monthly, with a yearly average of 24 million dollars flowing out to fund missions endeavors. The Stewardship Department offers varied options to fuel Great Commission ministry and to earn income—options such as gift annuities, charitable trusts, enablement funds, and gifts-in-kind. Our Treasurer keeps our financial operations running smoothly and with independent auditing to ensure donor confidence.
The American Institute of Philanthropy considers a nonprofit organization highly efficient if it can send 75 percent or more of its donations to its projects. (All organizations need to use a portion of gifts for operating expenses.) Baptist Mid-Missions sends an average of at least 87 percent. Because your donations are God’s money, we make every effort to operate as efficiently as possible so that your investment can help advance Christ’s church. (Source: http://www.charitywatch.org/criteria.html)
A visitor to the Home Office will get a friendly greeting from one of our three dedicated receptionists. Visitors also receive a tour of our building, kept well-maintained by our Building and Grounds staff. Our Canadian office in Regina, Saskatchewan, is staffed by a full-time administrative assistant who handles all Canadian donations and correspondence.
The big picture
Guiding the operations of the Home Office is Baptist Mid-Missions’ President, assisted by other BMM administrators. These administrators set the vision for Baptist Mid-Missions and keep us on track with our mission. And overseeing them are our General and Advisory Council members. These men and women are godly pastors and lay people representing constituent churches.
And so missions goes full-circle. Baptist Mid-Missions is governed by churches, serves churches, and helps missionaries plant churches. It’s all about the Lord’s commission to advance Christ’s church around the world. We could do none of this without God’s strengthening grace, and to Him goes the glory for it all!
Click to view video of how Baptist Mid-Missions supports missionary endeavors worldwide.