Mohler: Slain missionaries spotlight need for worldwide Gospel proclamation

Communications Staff — April 1, 2004

Four slain Southern Baptist missionaries in Iraq spotlight the urgent need for Christians to commit themselves to missions, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said in chapel March 23 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Preaching from Romans 10:8-15, Mohler told students that believers have an obligation to recognize the world’s lostness and proclaim the Gospel regardless of the cost.

“A day of wrath is coming,” Mohler said, “a day of wrath that will be so dramatic that the only ones who will be saved are those who call upon the name of the Lord. That puts the urgency into this promise of salvation.

“This is the logic of the Great Commission. We are to go. We are to tell. We are to bring the Word of God near. The promise is that sinners will hear the Gospel. The promise is that by faith, those who believe will be saved. Believing, they will call upon the name of the Lord. And calling upon the name of the Lord, they will be saved.”

Mohler cited Karen Watson, one of the slain missionaries, as a prime example of selfless commitment to proclaim the Gospel to a lost world. Watson had told friends that she intended to enroll at Southern as a student in January 2005, he said.

Prior to her murder, Watson penned a letter that was to be opened only upon the event of her death, Mohler said. The letter expressed Watson’s conviction that the Gospel is a cause for which Christians should be willing to dedicate their lives and even die.

At the request of Watson’s home church, Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., Mohler read the letter to Southern’s student body.

“You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death,” Watson wrote. “When God calls, there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn’t called to a place. I was called to Him, to glory. To obey was my objective. To suffer was expected. His glory was my reward. His glory is my reward.”

Highlighting the need to continue mission work, Watson encouraged potential missionaries to serve God first and foremost.

“Care more than some think is wise,” she wrote. “Risk more than some think is safe. Dream more than some think is practical, and expect more than some think is possible. I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience.”

Many nonbelievers would consider Watson’s death a waste, Mohler said. But Christians should view her death as an encouragement to live for eternal rewards more than earthly rewards, he said.

“It’s incredible to read that letter isn’t it?” Mohler said, “She did risk more than some thought would be wise. But it’s clear that her hope was that men and women in Iraq would come to know the Gospel not only in spite of her death, if it should come, but even because of it.”

In light of the deaths of Watson, David McDonnall and Larry and Jean Elliot, all believers should consider whether God would have them to enter the mission field, Mohler said.

“As we first heard this word (of the four deaths), we realized that the cause of the Gospel needed at least four more,” he said. “That’s just status quo, four more. But advance is going to take far more than four.

“I couldn’t help, as I read this letter, to realize that this was written by a young woman who intended to come here in order to go back. Maybe the Lord intends someone here to go in her place.”

As the chapel service concluded, Mohler invited students who sensed God’s call to international missions to speak with faculty members from Southern’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth.

“I want to invite you just to leave your seat and go back and speak to one of these faculty members who will pray with you and counsel with you and find great joy in helping you to know if the Lord has called you perhaps to replace Karen Watson or the Elliots, Dave McDonnall or one of the millions and millions who must go that the Word of God would be brought near.”

In response to Mohler’s invitation, over 100 students expressed a willingness to consider serving as international missionaries.

“We go because we honestly believe that without faith in Christ, there is no hope in the life to come,” Mohler said.

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