bmf 1024x1536At the recent Baptist Hui, Murray and Yvonne Smith were commissioned as President(s) of the Baptist Missionary Fellowship. Meeting in Baptist Churches around New Zealand, BMF groups provide a prayer base for NZBMS. This is the first time the President’s role has been shared. We asked Murray and Yvonne a few questions about themselves and their vision for BMF.

Many people will remember you as NZBMS missionaries, but your involvement in mission goes beyond that. Tell us a little bit about your mission background?

Our first hands-on experience of overseas mission was in Zimbabwe back when it was still known as Rhodesia. Murray ran the hospital laboratory on the Salvation Army compound.

After three years, we returned to New Zealand during which time we were called to serve in Bangladesh. That was in 1974. The country had just experienced a devastating cyclone and there was a need to develop the medical work in Brahmanbaria. Murray worked in the laboratory serving local doctors and the mission hospital’s maternity centre and outpatient’s clinic.

We spent eleven and a half years in Bangladesh and while there, Yvonne initially schooled our children. Once they were old enough to attend boarding schools, Yvonne undertook a variety of roles including helping in both the laboratory and the family planning clinic, and looking after five elderly widows who the mission were caring for.

We returned to New Zealand in 1987.

Your continued mission interest has also included involvement with BMF?

Yes. When we returned to New Zealand we settled in Tauranga and made Tauranga Central Baptist Church our home church. We’ve held a number of leadership roles there.

In 2007, Yvonne retired from teaching and took on the role of President for the Tauranga Central BMF group- a position she still holds. She is also the Coordinator for Bay of Plenty BMF.

What is the Tauranga Central BMF group like?

Like many other groups around New Zealand, the increasing age of the group coupled with decreasing numbers has meant we’ve needed to adapt our approach. We meet monthly with the Church Missions group for a combined missions meeting after church. We pray for our Tranzsend missionaries and for other missionaries supported by our church.

And now you have agreed to become joint Presidents of BMF. How did that come about?

Quite simply, we were approached and encouraged to take on the role of dual presidency. Of course, we committed this to prayer and believe God has called us to the role. We realise the role has never been shared in this way before but we are looking forward to doing this together.

So, finally, what are your thoughts for the future of BMF?

That’s a tough question; maybe we’ll have a better idea once we’ve been in the role for a while. In the meantime, there are a few things we know for certain. One is that BMF provides vital prayer support for our Baptist missionaries. Another is, while group numbers have dropped over the years, BMF’s enthusiasm and dedication has not diminished one bit.

Obviously, there is a challenge here. If this vital prayer and financial support is to continue, something needs to change. It may be that we could create the critical mass a group requires by encouraging three or four churches to join together for monthly meetings. Also the development of new technologies provides a number of ways to be more creative in the way we share prayer needs.

These are matters we need to commit to prayer and seek God’s leading in. Please pray for us and for BMF as we take on this role.

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