on Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Paul Chitwood, International Mission Board president, joined with others at Missions Week at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, Feb. 28-March 2, in asking a question repeated often that week, “Why not you?

Jamie Dew, NOBTS and Leavell College president, challenged listeners to consider the question before he introduced Chitwood as chapel speaker, March 2.

“Why not you to the nations?” Dew asked. “Is this something you’re praying about?”

Chitwood began by encouraging listeners to consider IMB service through short-term mission trips, student semester or summer opportunities, career service, and service opportunities for retirees. The opportunities are available because of Southern Baptists’ “generous giving” through the Cooperative Program, Chitwood explained.  

“Why not you?” Chitwood asked. “The IMB has room for you. We have a place for you somewhere.”

Chitwood praised Southern Baptists’ mission efforts and mission giving but then asked why those efforts are important in a world of war, famine and human trafficking. Drawing from Romans 3:9, Chitwood said the verse pinpoints the world’s greatest problem.

“What is that one overarching, world’s greatest problem?” Chitwood asked. “I submit to you today it can be communicated in a single word—that word is lostness.”

Chitwood said the problem is greater today than ever before with 157,690 people dying daily without Christ. NOBTS and IMB exist to address this problem, Chitwood said, adding “because the gospel needs to get to every nation, all peoples, tribes and languages.”

“The gospel is God’s solution to the world’s greatest problem, and it is ours to take to the world,” Chitwood concluded. He added, “Why not you?”

A special chapel panel earlier in the week featured Greg Wilton, dean of Leavell College and former National Care for Refugees Director, NAMB Send Relief.  Wilton’s wife, Abby, and three students serving this summer in various places were on the panel also to discuss their call to missions.

Missionaries serving in Southeast Asia and the Asian Pacific Rim spoke in classes, met informally with students for “Coffee and Conversations,” a women’s special prayer gathering, and a “Taste of the Nations” reception.

Greg Mathias, director of the NOBTS Global Missions Center, noted students’ responses to the week’s activities.

“Students loved having IMB missionaries in their classes as well as hearing from some of their own classmates,” Mathias said. “Many students resonated with the different experiences of missions from seasoned missionaries to students who are just taking the next step to go on their first international mission trip.”

Mathias noted that highlighting missions through Missions Week each year helps students wrestle with the questions of “Why not me?” and “Why not there?”

“God is stirring up our students in significant ways to live as global Christians no matter the specific ministry God gives them,” Mathias said.

“[Missions Week] also helps us move from being cheerleaders of the Great Commission to taking steps to personally participate more fully in His mission as well as encouraging our churches to do the same,” Mathias said.