LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - “What could be more exciting than investing two years of your life in the role God has for you?” asked Dr. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board (IMB). With 200 IMB missions openings for young people, Chitwood reminded that now is the time to embrace God’s calling to the mission field, especially in a COVID-ravaged world.
“At the IMB, we are looking for team members who are recent college graduates under the age of 30, sent by their church as missionaries for a two-year term on the international mission field,” said Chitwood. “We call these team members journeymen, and they are a vital part of IMB missionary teams all over the world.
“Serving as a journeyman allows young adults to be on mission and explore the possibility of lifelong service as a missionary.”
Eric Allen, team leader for missions mobilization at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said many times a short-term mission trip has been the catalyst to a fulltime career as a missionary.
“So many of our career missionaries were introduced to international missions through a short-term mission trip or two-year journeyman assignment and it was through the experience that God called them to a life of missionary service,” he said.
Abby* is just one of many Kentuckians who answered such a call to missions.
“As a journeyman I shared the gospel, discipled women, baptized new believers and helped plant churches,” she recalled. “The Lord did amazing things, and I felt like I was living in the New Testament.”
“I also had countless adventures traveling all over the world, riding camels, and camping in the Sahara Desert,” she said. “My husband jokes that I can’t have a conversation without mentioning North Africa, and it’s true. Being a journeyman changed my life.”
Unlike many missions programs for young people, the Journeyman program is fully funded, Chitwood said.
“This is unique to the IMB and involves not only financial support, but also the prayer and community support of Southern Baptist churches,” he said.
Both Chitwood and Allen affirm the need to raise up the next generation to love missions and embrace the call to “go.”
“This generation of young people have an opportunity to impact the world as a Journeyman in ways that no other career path can,” Allen said. “Imagine how awesome it would be to see individual lives, remote villages and major cities transformed because you used your unique gifts, talents and experiences in service to Christ!”
Abby explained that the Journeyman program taught her practical things like discipleship and church planting that she has brought back to her local church experience in Kentucky.
“My experiences in North Africa taught me to not settle for the status quo, but to pray and seek where God is working, and join him there in faith,” she said. “It has also given me a deep love for people from other countries. Learning someone’s culture is an amazing way to grow a relationship that can lead to gospel conversations and transformation.”
“If you’re thinking about your next step or trying to decide which path to choose in the future, I encourage you consider the Journeyman program,” Abby said.
“Making disciples is not optional for the Christian, and there are fields white for harvest all around the world that are waiting for workers (John 4:35),” she said. “Two years may seem like a long time, but I promise, they will fly by. The Lord can leverage those brief years to grow his Kingdom in remarkable ways for his glory, and he’ll grow you too.”
Even if you don’t qualify for the Journeyman program, there are still countless ways to get involved in missions, Allen said.
“There are always opportunities to serve alongside a Kentucky missionary for a weekend, a week or a month. Those desiring to serve as a long-term missionary in Kentucky might also consider Mission Service Corps as an avenue for answering God’s call.” You can learn more at www.kybaptist.org/msc.
Chitwood also challenges Kentucky Baptists to consider their “next step” in this calling.
Chitwood invites those interested in the Journeyman program to join Pastors J.D. Greear and Dhati Lewis, the IMB and NAMB, on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. for a virtual event where you will hear how you can get involved. You can register for free at https://live.go2years.net/.
“What an incredible privilege you and I have to be a part of the most important work in the universe!” exclaimed Chitwood.
*Name has been changed for security purposes.