RICHMOND, Va.—Baptist missionary-sending agencies currently do not actively seek missionaries from other countries to minister to unreached or least-reached people groups in the United States, nor are they likely to do so.
When the Southern Baptist Convention authorized its International Mission Board to work in North America, some Baptists may have assumed that move meant the IMB might appoint missionaries at home.
Rather than appointing specific missionaries to work with stateside groups, the IMB will assist catalytic and coordinated efforts with the SBC's North American Mission Board.
"We will help train and equip churches as they engage in reaching the unreached and the least-reached, both in North America and globally in their task to fulfill the Great Commission," IMB spokesperson Wendy Norvelle explained.
"We will be working cooperatively with the North American Mission Board, state conventions, associations and churches in more of a catalytic role in cross-training and using the expertise the whole body of Christ has to benefit the world."
IMB missionaries on stateside assignment and retired missionaries can assist in strategic partnerships with churches that approach either mission board or the SBC and say, "We want to work with a particular group," Norvelle explained.
Missionaries who have served overseas have experience to share. They understand how to cross cultural barriers, understand a specific culture and speak another language. "Their knowledge could be helpful here to help a church that wants to focus on that particular group," Norvelle added.
One cooperative effort under way is the IMB/NAMB-sponsored "ethne-city" training events in New York, Houston and Vancouver as part of NAMB's Send North America outreach to urban centers.
The North American Baptist Fellowship, affiliated with the Baptist World Alliance, does not directly deal with internationals in the United States. Instead, it assists informally with member bodies that do.
NABF Executive Director George Bullard pointed to the North American Baptist Conference. The former German Baptist group has a keen interest in working with immigrant groups. Canadian Baptist Ministries, a partnership of four Baptist conventions, also is among several member bodies that specifically works with internationals.
Jim Smith, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship director of field ministries, acknowledged CBF also does not recruit missionaries or pastors from other countries, but it collaborates with partners, such as the Ghana Baptist Convention.