It’s been said that when God wants to do something, He uses people. Such was the case when FBMI (Fundamental Baptist Missions International) was born. In August of 1993, Pastor R. Michael Cox, with the full support of his godly deacons, led the Berean Baptist Church of Adrian, Michigan, in this great step of faith. Sixteen families came on to be served by FBMI on the first commissioning day.
Berean Baptist Church developed a vibrant and exemplary missions program, the Michigan School of Missions was founded, and Pastor Cox traveled weekly to teach missions courses at Hyles-Anderson College. In this setting of increasingly fruitful leadership in missions, Dr. Jack Hyles, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, asked Dr. Cox to start a mission board. After much discussion and prayer, FBMI was born.
The deacons of Berean Baptist Church joined their pastor in taking this significant, initial step of faith, knowing full well it would make great financial demands on their church and that it would often draw their beloved pastor away from them and the church to care for these new responsibilities. The people of Berean Baptist Church joined in enthusiastically, as key positions were filled and spaces were dedicated to this new endeavor. Much dedicated, costly, and time-consuming research was invested to develop the policies and procedures for FBMI. These would benefit the missionaries even as the financial, prayer, and labor investment of the church would continue to grow. God blessed as missionaries were added each year at Candidate School.
Then in 1997, Dr. Cox determined that it was God’s will for him to resign as pastor in order to dedicate himself full-time to the work and further growth of FBMI. In a step that in many ways duplicated the birth of FBMI, Dr. Les Hobbins, Pastor of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, with the full support of the board of deacons, led the church to assume the financial burdens, administrative duties, and spiritual weight of the FBMI ministry. As this happened, FBMI continued to grow, and the church was greatly blessed with new families and the completion of their new auditorium.
Yet there was one more big step of faith that had to be made. Eventually, it became apparent to Pastor Hobbins, Dr. Cox, and Dr. Hyles that the Lord indeed wanted the ministry to be located at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. In July of 2000, the FBMI ministry, complete with the staff and their families, moved to Northwestern Indiana. Office space was made available at Baptist City in Schererville, and in short order, FBMI was up and running again. Everyone involved in the FBMI team was eager to see what the Lord would do under Pastor Hyles’ oversight. Little did we know that in February of the coming year, Dr. Hyles would graduate to Heaven, and First Baptist Church would be calling a new pastor.
FBMI continued to grow after Dr. Hyles’ Homegoing and soon moved to the church property in Hammond. During this time, Dr. Darrell Moore, as Missions Pastor, assumed the day-to-day direction for the ministry. In this setting, God set the course for the future growth of the ministry. He must certainly have planned from the first that First Baptist Church would someday have great worldwide missions influence.
Recognizing the successes and also the failure of world missions endeavors to date, First Baptist Church of Hammond’s leadership determined to take a fresh look at the subject in the Bible and in the book of Acts in particular. They were resolved to pattern the FBMI ministry according to biblical principles and examples. With much prayer and study, and without any lessening of their resolve to support individual missionaries worldwide, they began developing our team missions efforts.
Unexpectedly, the Lord directed FBMI, through a number of developments, to establish the first team in an unlikely place—China. Under the direct supervision of Dr. Doug Kalapp, Team China was officially established when the founding members left for the field in 2003. In the months that followed, property was secured, and more members were added to supervise the construction of the buildings. The second team, in Ghana, followed in 2006. The first Pastors’ School of West Africa took place in January of 2007, with the second a year later. In the summer of 2008, the third team, in Thailand, reached the field. Even after the passing of Dr. Kalapp, missionary families continued to form together to create teams. In 2010, Team Indo-Phil arrived on the field, and in 2012, Team Peru hit the ground running. Not long after, Team Eurasia arrived on the field in 2014, Team Brazil formed on the field in 2015, and Team East Africa started on the field in 2018.
Today, FBMI is moving forward under the leadership of Pastor John Wilkerson and Missions Pastor, Dr. Mark Bosje. FBMI’s emphasis is twofold, with a strong emphasis on both individual and team missions. Resources such as Teaching All Nations and Christian Media International have been developed and are being continually improved to provide definitive, tangible support for missionary work worldwide. The FBMI of today is increasingly an excellent resource for administrative, logistical, and spiritual support for the fundamental, independent Baptist missionary.
From the beginning, the Lord has been honored and glorified through the FBMI ministry. Every church that has been involved has been, through the trials, marvelously blessed of God.
We pray that God would continue to bless and direct the FBMI ministry with the addition of many new individual and team missionaries, and that churches across North America and around the world might be led of God to become ever more fruitful channels of God’s provision of the vitally necessary prayer and financial support.
By the grace of God and despite the two moves, FBMI has not changed its scriptural convictions, its emphasis on the biblical fundamentals, or on its obedience to the Great Commission. All new developments have grown from the goal of ever more fruitful and productive service for the Lord.