by Laura Barclay
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter was the keynote speaker at Broadway Baptist Church's Women on Mission Celebration Luncheon in Louisville, on Thursday, October 30. With over 60 people in attendance from around the state, Paynter shared CBF's vision of collaborative missions.
"If all you have are projects, it's not missions yet," Paynter stated. "You have to have a presence and be in relationship."
Paynter shared stories of CBF work in China, where there will be more Christians than anywhere else in the world by 2050. Because CBF has been open to dialogue with the Chinese government, which has traditionally opposed the expansion and free expression of religion, they are now interested in having CBF be a part of helping them learn and work with churches in a rapidly changing Chinese culture.
In her reflection on Chinese churches and international new church starts, Paynter said, "It's not about starting churches like ours, it's about starting churches like theirs."
Paynter also shared that in many parts of the Middle East, the word "Baptist' is synonymous with freedom. In some Islamist states that restrict women's access to education, Baptist schools mean that both men and women have opportunities to learn equally.
Paynter encouraged those who watch the news and despair at depressing news to think of the the other side of the coin, stating that someone in CBF missions is probably doing ministry amidst the crisis. She gave the example of the new Senior Chaplain for U.S. Army Africa, Col. Charles Reynolds, serving in Liberia during the Ebola crisis. His first duty was to oversee the funeral arrangements for Liberian soldiers who had succumb to the deadly virus. But, as he relayed to Paynter, "It was a privilege to serve."
Ultimately, Paynter dreams of all of us working together for the Kingdom of God, leading us outside ourselves and into the world to answer God's call.
"Christ's call doesn't come through your TV. It happens in church. It happens in relationships," Paynter said. "God is asking something of us. You can be alone or you can be in fellowship. I hope you'll be in fellowship."