The entire global team gathered on the old steps of Bethel BIC, the location of the 1894 General Conference (now General Assembly) where BIC missions efforts began.

On a hot July morning in Kansas in 2022, nearly 80 men and women gathered under a blue- and white-striped tent to pray, reflect, and celebrate the work of World Missions at the former site of Bethel BIC. Large stone steps are all that remain of the church building, and a graveyard lies around it, quiet in the Kansas hills. International flags representing the countries in which this team serves snapped in the wind, and a drone flew overhead to record the event.

Left to right: Bishop Aner Morejon (Southeast Conference) and Nathan Bert discuss the legacy of World Missions.

This gathering echoed a similar meeting at the same location 128 years prior where nearly 600 people gathered for the 1894 General Conference. There, the call for international missions was clearly heard throughout the BIC. A desire to be obedient to the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and a growing global awareness of people who had never heard the Gospel stirred the assembly. Our denominational World Missions outreach was born from this event.

This summer, when we returned to that location in Kansas, we had much to celebrate! Since 1894, the BIC have sent out more than 1,000 workers, and today there are more than 120,000 BIC people outside of North America. The group gathered in the tent included global workers who have been on the field for decades and others who were just getting ready for their first missions assignment. In a time of sharing, we were grateful to hear from a retired missionary, church leaders from India, and a Zimbabwean who is now pastoring a church in Kansas. Each of the speakers was thankful for the work God started in Kansas and the growth of the global BIC family.

Left to right: Team members Sophie Theisen, Jenna Matin, and Yolanda Rice laugh at one of the stories shard by a retired missionary.

As we reflected together on the history of BIC missions, we remembered some things that, along with the strong stone church steps, have not changed in the past 128 years. Jesus’ Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations” is still a relevant scripture for our lives, and when we look at the world, we see that the need remains. (Approximately 3.3 billion people today live in ethnic groups with so few Christians that they likely never hear the gospel unless it is from someone outside their group.) In response to these Scriptures and understanding of the need, we continue to send missionaries. The methods they use have changed somewhat, but their goal, that everyone would have a chance to hear and choose Jesus, remains the same.

On that windy Kansas morning we prayed for the future of BIC missions. Regardless of the changes that the future brings, God wants disciples from all people groups. And as long as there are still people who haven’t heard the good news, we will continue to send and support missionaries. Just as God has been faithful to bring fruit from our past missions efforts, he will be faithful in our future efforts as well.

The celebration in Kansas this summer was sweet. Imagine how much sweeter it will be when we celebrate with every nation, tribe, and tongue! (Revelation 7:9)

Jonathan Lloyd
Jonathan Lloyd is the Director of BIC U.S. World Missions. Born to missionary parents, he spent the first two years of his life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He went on to study engineering at Messiah College (now Messiah University) and was a mechanical engineer and project manager for nearly a decade. In 2005, Jonathan and his wife, Erica, deployed to Malawi as church planters in a rural, Muslim community. They returned to the U.S. in 2010, and Jonathan worked in various roles for BIC U.S., eventually as director of BIC U.S. World Missions in 2016. Jonathan and Erica live on a strawberry farm in Newville, Pa., with their four children.

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