RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Omar Loza accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in his home country of Peru, and then he shared the Gospel with his friends and family. A few years after reading that God wants believers to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, he visited an Andean town.
"I saw Aymara people worshipping God in their own language and culture," he said. "God put in my heart a desire to see many different people groups worshiping Him."
Omar's wife Tia said she also has known she wanted to make Christ known to others since she surrendered her own life to the Lord's leadership. The Lozas of La Respuesta-Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., plan to serve God in the Americas. They are among 20 new full-time, fully funded missionaries appointed by International Mission Board trustees Feb. 28 and recognized during a Sending Celebration near Richmond, Va.
"God reconciling all peoples of the earth to Himself and to one another was good news to two kids raised in broken homes," said Stephanie Roth, who was born in Alaska, "met Jesus" at age 3, and moved to Kansas at age 10. "Reading about and meeting missionaries in person drew me to dedicate my life to missions as a teen."
Her husband Christian said he learned the realities of a culture far from God while spending summers with his unbelieving father in Sweden. Christian said it broke his heart.
"Redeemer Church has been a flame for us, a place of warmth and comfort, burning refinement, and an igniter to see God's glory made known," said Christian of his church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Roths plan to serve in Scandinavia, where they will share the Gospel among the European peoples.
IMB President David Platt challenged the new missionaries with a message from the Book of Exodus, beginning with the story of the Israelites in slavery in Egypt and then God's plan to deliver His people.
"Moses was simply minding his own business, but you never know when your life might be changed forever by an encounter with God," Platt said.
In an encounter with God, Moses asks two questions: "Who am I? Who am I, God, that you would send me, a stammering shepherd?" (Exodus 3:11) and "Who are you?" (Exodus 3:13). God's answer: I AM -- Yahweh -- translated "The LORD."
"The same God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush is the same God who is sending you," Platt told the new missionaries. "Remember when you are God's servant in God's presence doing God's work, you are on holy ground. You are in the presence of the holy God of the universe."
He said the Name of God also reveals that God is merciful, He is ever-present, He is all-powerful, He is self-existent, He is self-sufficient, He is eternal, He is immutable, He is faithful, and He is sovereign. Therefore, Platt said, the missionaries must remember to find their rest and refuge in The LORD, and live so the nations might be glad in Him.
"You are stepping out on the absolutely true promises of God," Platt said. "There is no safer place to be."
Just as Moses obeyed God and trusted His faithfulness, the new missionaries are following God's leadership in their lives. For Mark and Aimee Phillips from First Baptist Church, McAllen, Texas, exposure to God's work through the years has led to their joining Him on mission. They are being sent to serve in Sub-Saharan Africa among the peoples of Madagascar.
"Through the testimonies of missionaries at church camp, I became burdened for those that don't know Jesus, and it was there that I surrendered my life to share the Gospel with the nations," Aimee shared during the celebration.
"In Romans 15 it says, 'those who have never heard will understand," Mark said. "This same call to take the Gospel to the nations was confirmed in my heart during a summer volunteering with the IMB in Uganda. Through multiple short-term mission trips and ISC terms, God has continued to reaffirm His call on our lives to share the Gospel where Christ has never been named."
Who will go?
Luke and Lilly Price* attend a church in North Carolina that highlights a people group every Sunday that has no access to the Gospel and no known believers.
"As one of the pastors, I would encourage our people to pray that God would send believers to take the Gospel to these people groups," Luke said. "One day I realized that I couldn't keep praying that God would send other people to take the Gospel. We needed to be willing to go."
Lilly said they are excited to be going to a part of the world -- South Asia -- that is home to hundreds of unreached people groups. They are joining more than 3,500 other full-time workers sent by Southern Baptists, cooperating with the vision of a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshiping our Lord Jesus Christ.
For more information about IMB, go to imb.org.