The International Mission Board (IMB), which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, is mandating vaccines for missionaries and their children over the age of 16, it announced this week.
IMB announced the policy, which applies to field personnel and staff, on September 8.
Per the press release:
The IMB policy requires IMB missionaries and their children ages 16 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending Field Personnel Orientation prior to their long-term field service; and IMB missionaries and their children ages 16 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending Stateside Conference during their periodic return to the United States. Attendance at the two conferences is mandatory for missionaries before initial entry or return to a country of service. The policy also requires staff members whose must interact with field personnel at Field Personnel Orientation and Stateside Conferences to obtain COVID-19 vaccination. The policy is effective immediately.
IMB said volunteers with the IMB field teams “must follow the recommendations and requirements of the government of the hosting country” for the volunteer trips but urged the individuals to still consider vaccination, even if it is not required by the host country.
“The International Mission Board exists to serve Southern Baptists in carrying out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations — even to those people in the overpopulated urban cities, even to those in the hardest-to-reach jungles and plains,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said in a statement, emphasizing IMB’s commitment to sharing the gospel, even in the midst of a pandemic.
We must make every wise decision, even when a decision is exceptionally difficult, that maintains our team members’ access to the growing number of unreached peoples and places around the world where vaccines are required for entry. We also want to do all we can to undergird our team members’ spiritual and physical health to maximize our effectiveness as we serve Southern Baptists in our global gospel endeavors.
The press release went on, noting that vaccine requirements are “not new” for the organization.
“Since the IMB implemented vaccine requirements for field personnel in the 1980s, the number of vaccine-preventable illnesses have significantly decreased among IMB field personnel and their families,” it added, noting that IBM’s team is “adhering to precautions recommended by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and are following all local and federal regulations with the policy.”
IMB also acknowledged that its policy may result in losing field personnel and staff members.
“We’re praying that this will be a time of global awakening, that many would come to know the Lord as the fear of the global pandemic lingers,” Chitwood added.
The news comes as the Biden administration makes moves to coerce Americans into getting vaccines. On Thursday, Biden delivered a divisive speech in which he outlined vaccine requirements for healthcare workers, federal workers, federal contractors, and businesses with over 100 employees.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden stated. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”