VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 1/13/15)—The Rev. Dr. Richard (Rich) Freeman and his wife, Laura, of San Pedro, California, have been appointed Associate Missionaries by American Baptist International Ministries (IM). The Freemans have been supporting the work of Turkish pastors and Christian leaders and establishing new churches in Turkey through their non-profit organization, Turkish Connections International. The Freeman’s home church is Ocean View Baptist Church in San Pedro, California.
Their appointment with IM began on January 1, 2015 and will allow them to more effectively partner with U.S. churches through the IM network, and will give the couple valuable access to IM’s expertise, experience and contacts in Europe. The Freeman’s ministry with IM will include extended trips to Turkey, often with teams of volunteers from U.S. churches, to support the work of the Turkish church planters.
“We feel a sense of call to work with Turkish pastors and Turkish Christian leaders to assist in the planning and planting of new churches in this Islamic country,” commented Rich. “We would love to see 100 new churches established in this country over the next 20 years. We also provide short-term mission opportunities within Turkey to help Christians in America see what God is doing in one of the least reached countries in the world,” he added.
Charles Jones, IM’s area director for Europe, the Middle East and Liberia, says, “Rich and Laura continue to build strong and lasting relationships with believers in Turkey, as they support pastors and the planting and growth of communities of faith. I am very excited and delighted that we are affirming their commitment and ministry in this way. I expect that their appointment will provide many opportunities for more American Baptists to engage in Kingdom witness and ministry in Turkey, as well as enhance our potential for other partnerships there!”
When asked why the couple feels called to this ministry, Laura responded, “I feel called to come alongside my husband in his endeavor to aid the growth of the Church in the nation of Turkey. Through our organization [Turkish Connections International], and now also through IM, we feel privileged to support Turkish believers and send new pastors and to establish new churches.”
Rich added, “My wife and I have been serving Christ in partnership with Turkish pastors for the past 12 years in a part-time capacity while I served as a pastor in Southern California. Now with IM, we will be able to serve with Turkish Connections on a full-time basis. Over those years, the Lord impressed us with such a love for the Turkish church and the Turkish people that we were clearly led to give our full-time service to church planting in Turkey.”
Laura states that she looks forward to sharing their vision of reaching Turks with congregations in the U.S. in a meaningful way. As First Corinthians 16:19 states, “The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings.” She adds, “I pray for the day that ‘Asia Minor,’ or modern-day Turkey, is filled with churches praising the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior.”
As Associate Missionaries, the Freemans are employed by Turkish Connection International and are appointed to work in association with IM as well as their employing agency. This type of appointment, along with a standard missionary appointment, enables IM to support the mobilization of greater numbers of American Baptists into God’s work throughout the world.
The Freemans have two adult children, Evan, age 26 and Alison, age 30. More information about the Freemans and their ministry is available on the IM website.
American Baptist International Ministries is celebrating 200 years of ministry in 2014. Organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America, IM began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationships with God and change their worlds through the power of the Holy Spirit. IM works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.