Southern California sounded like a vacation spot to Ebbie Davis at first, not a location for serious mission work. Besides, the seminary degree she was working on at the time focused on international church planting, not North America.
But as she looked at an opportunity to serve in San Diego through the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) GenSend program, a friend asked some questions about what her time there would entail.
“I said I’d be working with a church plant there,” Davis recalled, “and learning how to live my life on mission and do ministry in the context of the city.”
Her friend pointed out that it sounded exactly like the aim of her degree program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Davis realized it might be a perfect fit.
GenSend is NAMB’s missions development program that enables college-age students, age 18 to 25, to serve in a NAMB Send City for six to eight weeks and learn how to live their lives on mission. They come alongside missionaries in church planting and compassion ministry for an in-depth missions experience.
In North America, approximately 75 percent of residents are not born-again believers, which means more than 272 million people are without Christ. While NAMB helps churches plant churches everywhere for everyone, the urban centers of the continent not only have higher population density, but those in cities are also frequently more secular than other regions of the United States and Canada.
“Our Send Cities are 32 of the highest populated areas with the greatest need for the Gospel,” said Jeremy Aylett, NAMB’s Send City Missionary in San Diego. “Millions of people, for example, live here in San Diego, and the reach of this city extends around the world.”
At the moment, one of the biggest challenges for church planting in North America stems from not having enough qualified missionaries who can serve. GenSend affords many young people the opportunity to reshape their view of what it means to be a missionary.
Many leave the program with a plan to leverage their lives for the sake of the Gospel, even if that does not mean becoming a pastor or church planter.
The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions provides funding that makes GenSend possible. Students spend their summers serving on the field and can focus on building relationships, sharing the gospel and connecting people they meet with a local church — all without the burden of how they are going to pay for their expenses.
“They don’t have to worry about the logistics of living in the city,” Davis explained. “They only have to worry about, ‘Who can I talk to next to tell them about Jesus?'”
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Source: Baptist Press