Friday, July 28, 2006

"Seven Questions with Ken Sorrell"

Pic of Ken and his wife.
1. What were some of the key issues that lead you to serve with the International Mission Board?

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church and participated in all of the SBC missions education opportunities growing up. When we felt called into missions it was just a natural step to seek appointment through the then, Foreign Mission Board. It is no secret that the IMB is the premier missionary sending agency in the world. I am not just speaking of financial support, but in terms of preparation, training, and ongoing opportunities for learning. In our opinion, the IMB is second to none in every aspect of supporting missionary service. I am a Southern Baptist and it felt very natural to be sent and supported by Southern Baptists through the IMB.

2. What is your greatest passion?

This is an interesting question because I always struggle with how to answer since I feel that I have multiple passions rather than just a singular passion. However, even with this said, my passion first and foremost is to bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in everything I do. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase but I must decrease.”

After this my passions are my family and being part of the missionary task in a cross-cultural setting. God has blessed me with an incredible wife and we both are blessed with two great kids who love the Lord. I really believe that our time on the mission field as a family really bonded us closer together than if we had remained in the states. Our time working and serving among the K’ekchi’ of Guatemala was an incredible experience. We went to teach them and in reality they may have taught us more about what it means to live a life of sacrifice for God. All of our lives reflect these lessons learned today.

Now, it’s my passion to see other missionaries, volunteers, and national partners experience the joy of bearing lasting fruit through seeing new believers come to Christ, planting multiplying churches, and developing servant leaders. I receive a great amount of joy by being involved in the training of others so that they may more effectively fulfill the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment. It is my prayer that lostness will impact everything we do so that everything we do will impact lostness.

3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time?

Probably the one greatest barrier I face in ministry is that of maintaining consistency of balance in my life. Being sure that I am doing what I should, spiritually, physically, and emotionally consistently is tough for me. My job requires me to travel a lot! I have yet to find a way to maintain a disciplined schedule when traveling and having to adjust to the schedules of so many others.

4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry?

Obviously, there are many things that I wish Southern Baptists knew about our ministry. However, to distill it down to one is that I wish every Southern Baptists could know in more detail is what it really means to be involved in missions and the missionary task from a biblical perspective. Southern Baptists have big hearts and are some of the most giving people I know of on the face of the earth today. So it is not the intent of their heart that is the struggle, but it is how this big-heartedness sometimes expresses itself in action around the world. It is possible to do for others what on the surface may look and sound great, but in the long-term, does in fact hinder the spread of the Gospel. I wish Southern Baptists would take the time to learn more about mission principles and strategies as they are praying, giving, and going. Part of my ministry today is to help provide this training to those who desire to know more in order to effectively do more and have a greater spiritual impact.

5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States?

I look at the world and world events through different lenses now. It is fascinating to see the world from another culture’s perspective. There many things about my home culture that I would never wish to change. At the same time, I do believe that there is much that we can learn from other cultures that would make us better. For example, in Latin America, relationships are always more important than time or money. It is amazing how this one difference can change how you live your life.

6. There has been a lot of blogging about pressure from the IMB towards missionaries to produce converts. Do you feel pressure from the IMB? What type of ministries are you doing to reach people and start churches?

I obviously cannot speak for every missionary serving with the IMB so this is just one missionary’s opinion and perspective. The pressure to produce converts is not felt from Richmond but hearing the cries of the millions of lost people in the world today that still do not know Jesus. We should feel pressure to see more new believers and more new churches. I live in a quaint little town of 6 million people. Less than 2% claim to be evangelical Christians. If the IMB is turning up the pressure it can never match the pressure I feel when I walk outside our home and know that 98 our every 100 people I see will die and go to hell if we do not give each and every one an opportunity to hear, understand, and respond to the salvation message. I do feel challenged on a regular basis from our IMB leaders to seek more effective ways to impact lostness. If I worked for Ford, I assume there would be pressure to produce cars. If I worked for McDonald’s, I assume there would be pressure to produce hamburgers. If there is not an expectation by the IMB for missionaries to implement strategies that will produce new believers, new churches, and new leaders, then what is it exactly that they are to expect?

Space does not permit me to share all that we are doing in our region and locally to see new believers and new churches. What I can say is that I do believe that church planting is a critical element in the spread of the Gospel. When we study the 3 missionary journeys of Paul he always left behind new believers, new churches, and developing leaders. Everything we do works to see the same results.

We base all of our work on prayer. Prayer is a key component impacting the effectiveness of our efforts. Then using Gospel saturation strategies we are always looking for people of peace with whom we can start evangelistic Bible studies that will be the foundation for new churches. What we have learned is that there is no silver bullet answer. Missions is messy and it is hard work. As a colleague of mine says, “If it were easy, it would have been done by now”.

7. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year and are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer?

As a region, we are praying and working so that we might break the 1,000 new church plants in one year mark. If we do this it will be the first time in Southern Baptist history that this has happen in our part of the world. We had almost 900 this past year.

In-between trips, I still hope and pray that I can be part of starting multiple new churches working with local believers who have a passion for seeing the lost saved and new churches planted.

Related to question number 4, we have several opportunities to be in front of U.S. volunteers in a missions training and education setting each year. It is my hope and prayer that we can find new and creative ways to enhance this missions educational process for SBC churches. The U.S. church sending volunteers around the world is a tremendous resource. Our desire from a field perspective is that we or someone equips them to have the greatest impact possible.

Ken Sorrell is an SBC Missionary to Guadalajara, Mexico. If you want more information on thier ministry please visit "Middle America and Caribbean Missions". If you would like more information about Ken or just keep up with his journey, visit his blog at "Returning to Biblical Missions".


Blogger Kevin Stilley said...

May God grant us all the ears to hear the cries of the millions of lost souls, as Ken mentions in #6, and a broken heart that yearns to do something about it.

Thanks for another great interview.


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