Richmond, Va.—International Mission Board trustees approved the appointment of 27 new missionaries and announced a vice president of mobilization during their board meeting Aug. 23-24 near Richmond, Va.
Trustees also welcomed a visit from Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who serves as an ex-officio member of the board in his SBC role. Gaines is pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.
IMB President David Platt addressed trustees during the entity’s Aug. 24 plenary session.
“Two years ago at this trustee meeting, by God’s grace alone, this body elected me to lead this IMB family,” he said. “Now, two years later, I find myself standing here at the end of a deeply encouraging two days with trustees during which we have discussed where the IMB is now, and we have dreamed about where God is leading the IMB in the days ahead.
“Standing on the shoulders of faithful brothers and sisters who’ve gone before us, we find ourselves looking to the future where we have a unique opportunity to mobilize multitudes more faithful brothers and sisters to go to the nations with us in the days to come,” Platt continued, drawing from Hebrews 12:1-2.
Platt said IMB leaders are hard at work considering, “How do we mobilize this entire Southern Baptist ecosystem of tens of thousands of churches, local associations, state conventions, seminaries and other entities for the spread of the Gospel to billions of people who’ve never heard it?” Leaders are meeting with state and national entities and local churches of all sizes to explore how IMB can best serve them and send multitudes more missionaries with them. IMB also is launching a new website this fall, and the board is collaborating with the North American Mission Board to organize 2017 SEND conferences in Southern California (Feb. 3-4), Dallas (May 19-20) and Orlando (July 25-26) to cast a vision for multitudes more men and women taking the gospel from North America to the nations.
“All of this is aimed at connecting more closely with this entire coalition of churches and entities across the IMB, maximizing the cooperative praying, giving, going and sending potential of Southern Baptists for the spread of the gospel in missions,” Platt said.
Edgar Aponte, who currently serves as director of Hispanic leadership development and instructor of theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., was affirmed by trustees as vice president of mobilization. He and his wife Sara are members of Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh, N.C.
The vice president of mobilization leads in three significant ways:
– He works with other executive leaders in the overall strategy of the IMB with particular emphasis on the board’s mobilization efforts.
– He leads teams and networks to mobilize churches in sending limitless missionary teams who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached people and places for the glory of God.
– He leads at the denominational level in developing relationships and communicating who IMB is to Southern Baptists, while at the same time representing those diverse audiences back to IMB. This involves leading IMB to serve alongside state conventions, associations, SBC entities and other stateside partners.
“Edgar Aponte is an incredibly gifted man of God,” said Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The Lord has blessed him with a wide range of abilities and talents. He excels at whatever he does. This is a sad day for Southeastern and me personally. However, it is a great day for the IMB and the advancement of the Kingdom of King Jesus among the nations. He goes to our very close sister entity with my blessing and prayers. This is a great thing for Southern Baptists.”
Prior to his work at SEBTS, Aponte served at the ministry of foreign affairs in Washington, D.C., on behalf of his home nation, the Dominican Republic. His role of minister counselor in the political section involved coordinating the political relations between the embassy and the State Department, Department of Labor, U.S. Congress and Department of Defense; advising the ambassador and authorities on a broad range of policy issues from the bilateral agenda; and engaging in meetings with other embassies and interest groups about specific regional issues such as human trafficking and drug trafficking. Prior to that, he worked in banking for five years.
Aponte earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration; a graduate degree in corporate finance; and a master’s degree in business administration (management). He also earned a master’s degree in Christian ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and is expected to complete a doctorate in theological studies with a concentration in systematic theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary this fall.
Twenty-seven new missionaries were appointed by the IMB during a special “Sending Celebration,” which recognized both the new personnel and the churches partnering with them to take the Gospel to the nations. The celebration featured testimonies from each of the appointees and a Scriptural charge from Platt. The service highlighted the integral role local churches play in assessing and sending Southern Baptist missionaries.