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Mission Service Corps celebrates 25 years of mobilizing missionaries
Thursday, Jun 13, 2002
By James Dotson

ST. LOUIS (BP)--It was in 1977 that the Southern Baptist Convention established Missions Service Corps (MSC) as a way of funding missions in ways that wouldn't have been possible under conventional funding models. Twenty-five years and more than 7,600 volunteers later, the strategy has become one of Southern Baptists' most effective tools for reaching the North America with the gospel.

The North American Mission Board sponsored a 25th anniversary luncheon for MSC June 12 on the closing day of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis. The luncheon also served as the kickoff of the MSC Future Fund, an endowment organizers say will help position MSC to take advantage of strategic opportunities and provide emergency assistance for MSC volunteers.

North American Mission Board President Robert E. Reccord, who served as host for the event, thanked the missions servants for their sacrificial service on the front-lines of ministry.

"The primary act of worship in our life is not just sitting in a pew on Sundays, as important as that is," he said, referring to Romans 12:1-2. "It is the giving our life to him every single day -- to say 'whatever it is you want, wherever you want me to serve, I'm ready and I'm ready to follow.'"

MSC is a task force of volunteers who give fulltime service for four months or more to support church planting and evangelism efforts. They are either self-supporting or raise their own funding, but gain their assignment, training and other assistance through the North American Mission Board. Those who work a minimum of 20 hours a week for at least two years are included in NAMB's missionary count, currently making up 1,943 of the 5,154 missionaries.

Three couples interviewed by Reccord during the program served as examples of the diversity of roles filled through MSC.

David and Carla Tubbs serve as "tentmakers" in Frisco, Colo., where David Tubbs' job at a ski resort enables the couple to coordinate a variety of resort ministries in association with High Country Baptist Church.

The Tubbses said they felt called to serve in the area after visiting on vacation.

"I think when you know Jesus he doesn't keep it a secret," Carla Tubbs said of their call. "He lets you know what he wants you do to for him. And in our case it was pick up, sell our business, sell our house, and give up anything and move to Colorado."

Bobby and Gayle Pruitt have invested 15 years evangelizing and discipling college students at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Bobby Pruitt said the MSC strategy has allowed them to develop a strong network of churches and individuals that provides more than just financial support. "We feel their prayers, and they write us and encourage us. And that helps a lot," he said.

Finally, Richard and Mary Gomez, who help recruit and manage other Mission Service Corps missionaries in New Mexico, represented the many MSC volunteers who serve in retirement.

Although the ministry has consumed considerably more time than the 20 hours they had been told, the missionaries said they wouldn't be happy doing anything else.

"We have time to spend time with our grandchildren, we have time to golf, we do some bowling," Richard Gomez said, noting that their bowling with a group of seniors also gives them ministry opportunities.

"Every time we do that, we get people that will ask us, 'What do you do?'" he said. "And do you know what? That opens the door, and we're able to minister to people."

Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla., also addressed the group, comparing their humble acts of service to those of the apostle Andrew.

"We have the privilege to be Andrews in our generation -- ordinary people whom Jesus takes and does extraordinary things," he said. "... As you look to the next years in Mission Service Corps, it's going to be greatness of the ordinary folks like you who are going to make the eternal difference."

For more information on MSC or other opportunities for missions service, visit www.namb.net/answerthecall.
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