At International Ministries (IM), there are various opportunities to serve as the hands and feet of Christ around the world. The more well-known options include becoming: a standard global servant (who is hired by IM) and who serves in a long term capacity; an associate missionary (an employee of another organization who works with IM); a volunteer who is sent out via the Short-Term Mission Team (STM); and a special assistant. The special assistant program was started several years ago by IM staff Reid Trulson and Ben Chan as a way to serve with IM in a volunteer role, but with a longer-term, focused ministry.
Currently, IM has more than 20 special assistants worldwide who are part of a small group of identified and chosen leaders providing ministry accompaniment with others in their respective regions. These leaders are chosen because they offer a specific skill, talent or experience needed to meet a need in a specific area.
International Ministries (IM) notes in our strategic plan, Responding to the Call, that, “The call to be disciples of Jesus involves ministering holistically: proclaiming the good news, meeting human needs, striving for justice and being actively involved in transforming the world through the power of the Holy Spirit;” and that “God calls humanity into relationships of love and support in community. We care for all people with whom we work, both those who are served and those who offer their lives in service. We engage in mission in ways that respect the giftedness of all our partners and the diversity that God creates and in which God delights. We are committed to partnership and cooperation with a wide range of agencies, both within and beyond the American Baptist movement, to fulfill God’s call and our mission. We strive to build relationships of mutual giving and receiving.” Special assistants fill that role in a unique way.
In my area, I currently have nine special assistants who serve in Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, and globally; chosen because of their expertise in the areas of theological education, pastoral care and training, education, and work with refugees.
I remain very thankful for the work of Rev. Dr. Alan Selig who served as a special assistant for theological education for Vietnam for many years beginning under Rev. Stan Murray, my predecessor. Alan retired from the work this year, but I am thankful that Alan made many trips to Vietnam to work with our partner, the Baptist Convention of Vietnam (BCV), to teach theological education at the BCV Bible school, give pastoral care to the leadership of the convention and to the students at the Bible school, give oversight to a special program of Vietnamese students studying at a theological school in the Philippines, and overall to work on sharing the unity we have as Baptists and Christians. Alan retired from the position this year, but his legacy will live on with those in Vietnam. He made a positive difference and I am thankful for him and the humble way he served. (Alan is seen on the left in the photo. Taken in the Philippines and Central Philippine University [CPU], he is standing next to CPU faculty, IM staff, and the two graduates of CPU from Vietnam with their family.)
Each special assistant brings a special skill or understanding that enhances IM’s work with partners in our areas and acts as a bridge for shared ministry. I will be highlighting each of my special assistants in subsequent journals to give some insight into this important option to serve in ministry with IM.