FIRST-PERSON: The God who came inspires the missionaries who go

By Kevin Ezell

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The Son of God took on flesh and was born in a manger.

One of the worst things that can happen to us is that the good news of Christmas Day becomes routine. Maybe this happens because we’ve allowed our daily pace and to-do lists to drown out our sense of wonder. Perhaps trials and tragedy have rendered hollow the voices spreading Christmas cheer.

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. NAMB photo

Whatever the case, Christ’s coming remains glorious and true. Remember: He entered a dark, sinful world where pain and injustice often seemed to rule the day. He lived, grew up and taught about the Kingdom of God before taking on our sin and putting it to death on the cross. All the evil in the world has been gutted of its power.

That’s what Christ accomplished during His first coming, which we celebrate during Christmas. We anticipate, at the same time, His Second Coming where our King will finalize the work He began, finally eradicating the presence of evil completely.

Together, we look forward to our coming King. We can rejoice as if it has already happened because God is always true to His word. Even when the darkness seems too thick to overcome, we know Jesus won’t fail—just like He did not fail to step out of eternity and into a manger.

Trevin Wax says in the opening line of his latest book, we face our greatest challenge as believers “when old truths no longer wow.” All that Jesus Christ is and all he accomplished should leave us with an extraordinary sense of awe, and it should spur us to want to share this good news with others.

All around the world, hundreds of missionaries are doing exactly that. They’ve dedicated their lives, leaving their homes and often bringing families with them onto the mission field. They make such an extraordinary sacrifice, and they do so because the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus fills them with joy and hope.

An International Mission Board missionary greets children outside of Streams of Living Waters School in Lusaka, Zambia. IMB photo

Yet, they don’t just take that joy and hoard it. They don’t sit on that hope and keep it to themselves. The fact that thousands of people groups remain unreached drives missionaries to address the world’s greatest problem. They want to share the story that started in a manger roughly 2,000 years ago.

As I reflect on the birth of Christ this time of year, I can’t help but remember the missionaries who, fueled by His Spirit, have left comfort and security to embark on the adventure of bringing the gospel to people who desperately need the story of hope, joy, peace and forgiveness that is found in the message of Christ.

One of the privileges of this season is that we, as Southern Baptists, get to support those fearless missionaries through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® for the International Mission Board (IMB).

An International Mission Board worker who serves among the Udmurt people sits at a table with ministry partners as they have tea and minister to an Udmurt family in their kitchen. IMB photo

Over the last few years, I have been amazed and encouraged by the continued generosity of Southern Baptists. I’ve been humbled to realize that your generosity is the fruit of a passion for the gospel, a passion for missionaries and a passion to see the nations of the world to receive the hope of salvation.

The highest priority we can have, as churches and as fellow believers, is to see the gospel proclaimed and applied to the lives of people across the globe who need the radical, transforming grace of God.

This mission is why we come together as Southern Baptists. It’s why we give, and it’s why we go—all because the Son of God first came to us, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

Published December 6, 2022

Kevin Ezell

Dr. Kevin Ezell serves as the president of the North American Mission Board, providing strategic vision, direction and leadership as NAMB works with state partners in helping Southern Baptists to reach North America through evangelism and evangelistic church planting. He and his wife, Lynette, have six children, Anna, Shelly, Taylor, John Michael, Libby and Micah Lyn.