N.C. Baptists honored and prayed for missionaries with ties to churches from across the state as part of a first-of-its-kind Sending Celebration, held jointly between the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the International Mission Board.

N.C. Baptists honored and prayed for missionaries with ties to churches from across the state as part of a first-of-its-kind Sending Celebration, held jointly between the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the International Mission Board (IMB) on Monday, Nov. 6.

The celebration was the highlight of the opening session of the 2023 N.C. Baptist annual meeting, which drew more than 1,300 messengers and guests to the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center on the first day of the two-day event.

IMB President Paul Chitwood delivered the convention sermon in conjunction with the celebration, after which 30 missionaries who have answered the call to go to the nations shared testimonies and prayer requests with those in attendance.

Chitwood said the IMB had never held an event like this one before.

“A service like this is literally something we’ve never done before at the International Mission Board in our 178-year history,” said Chitwood, adding that Sending Celebrations typically include missionaries from multiple states. “Tonight is unique in that we are celebrating those N.C. Baptist IMB missionaries who have been sent out and are being sent out.”

During his convention sermon, Chitwood praised N.C. Baptists for their collective efforts in calling, sending, supporting and praying for missionaries.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has led all state conventions in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions for 19 years. North Carolina also leads other state conventions in missionaries being sent to the field.

“I’m so grateful to you N.C. Baptists for the way you are literally leading our broader Baptist family in engaging lostness around the world,” Chitwood said.

In his message, Chitwood called lostness the world’s greatest problem, saying it is an eternal problem, a universal problem and a growing problem.

“Brothers and sisters, we know the solution to the world’s greatest problem is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Chitwood said.

Prior to introducing missionaries from North Carolina who are currently serving on the field or preparing to go, Chitwood asked attendees if God might also be calling them.

“My question tonight before we get to celebrating these who have already committed their lives is ‘What about you?’” Chitwood said. “Is God calling you?”

At the conclusion of Chitwood’s message and the missionary introductions, N.C Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker posed a question to attendees.

“Brothers and sisters, what do you think of your N.C. Baptist missionaries?” Unzicker asked.

The question prompted a standing ovation and an extended time of applause from the audience as the missionaries stood and faced them on stage.

Unzicker closed the event by inviting N.C. Baptist leaders and attendees to pray for the missionaries and their prayer requests.

Unzicker prayed that God would use the missionaries “to turn this world upside down for Jesus.”