On Sunday, Aug. 4, 108 new missionaries preparing to minister in 48 nations will be commissioned into global service with AG World Missions. The commissioning service will be the climax of the 2019 Assemblies of God General Council, to be held in Orlando Aug. 1-4.
Beginning at 5 p.m. EDT, the service will be open to the public and will be broadcast live on AG World Missions’ Facebook page. Regular updates will also be posted on AGWM’s Instagram and Twitter pages.
For each participating missionary, this service crowns years of prayer and preparation, including fundraising and weeks of coordinated AGWM training.
Dave Kenney, AGWM area director for Southeast Asia, attended missionary training and was commissioned in 1984, but he also recalls attending his first official missions gathering as a child in 1957. His parents were preparing to serve in Malaysia and the Philippines. When the family attended again in 1967, Dave joined other missionary kids (MKs) to listen and watch as Bible stories were acted out on a flannelgraph board. It was in that humble setting that he heard his own call to missionary service.
By 1972, more coordinated activities began to be offered for MKs like Dave. Today, the International Society of Missionary Kids (ISMK) works to equip MKs spiritually, educationally and emotionally for the challenges of global missions. ISMK also encourages strong, vibrant relationships with Jesus, recognizing that relationship is vital if MKs are to partner with their parents in ministry and prepare for possible future ministries of their own.
Throughout its history, the Assemblies of God has relied on the coordinated and faithful financial support of its local churches to keep missionaries on the foreign field. As a result, besides the many children in missionary families who have gone on to serve overseas themselves, other members of AGWM’s global ministry team felt God’s call to missions when they listened to visiting missionaries at their home churches.
Bryan Webb, AGWM area director for Pacific Oceania, experienced what he describes as a “God-compulsion” towards missions as a child sitting in missionary services at church.
“Those services were the highlights of the month,” Webb recalls. “I remember veteran missionary Charles Greenaway weeping over the places he could no longer physically reach with the gospel. In those services, missionaries would often convey God’s broken heart for the world. Hearing them do so broke my heart as a boy,” he says, “paving the way for my life of missions.”
In recent years, AGWM has sought creative ways to communicate missions vision to a new generation of potential missionaries as more of its existing members reach retirement age. This has included more opportunities for short-term service, whether with a church ministry team for a week or as a missionary associate for a year or more (visit wideopenmissions.org for more information).
The need only continues to grow. A sobering reality for Webb and his wife, Renee, based in the island nation of Vanuatu, is that there are no missionaries in training for their area in 2019. “That’s why we go,” Webb says.
Through the lives of Kenney, Webb, and countless others, it becomes clear that telling the stories of missions and being able to witness other lives lived in passionate missions service is key to perpetuating the missions movement for generations to come.
“It has been said that this Commissioning Service is quite possibly one of the most sacred services held by the Assemblies of God,” says Rick Johnson, AGWM Personnel and Member Care director. “This is the first time an official Commissioning Service has been held at a General Council. People used to comment that they wished the whole Fellowship could witness these commissionings, and now they can. Even children can witness it. We take this very seriously. The church must continue.”