[SLIDESHOW=46820,46821]ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — In one of the most turbulent weather years in U.S. history, Southern Baptists stretched their disaster relief capabilities in bringing relief to those affected by massive storms.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) coordinated multi-state responses to three major hurricanes. Southern Baptist volunteers prepared more than 3 million meals, served over 90,000 days and witnessed more than 700 people profess faith in Christ in ministering to hurricane survivors.
Among other key facets of NAMB’s ministry in 2017:
NAMB partnered with the International Mission Board to conduct three Send Conferences in 2017 — in Frisco, Texas, north of Dallas; Long Beach, Calif.; and Orlando, Fla. The theme, “Redefine,” encouraged attendees to redefine their lives so that they centered their focus on God’s mission and God’s glory. Men and women were spurred to live their lives “on mission” throughout North America and around the world.
Annie Armstrong Offering all-time high
The 2017 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions hit a record high: $59,648,377. NAMB President Kevin Ezell celebrated with NAMB staff during a meeting in October and thanked Southern Baptists who sacrificially gave so that the mission can go forward in North America.
SBC Crossover adds evangelism crusade
NAMB’s Crossover Arizona partnered with Greg Laurie’s Harvest America to host a three-day evangelistic outreach that included training, street evangelism, service projects and a Sunday night crusade. Harvest reported 2,904 salvation decisions during the event with another 494 decisions reported from those streaming the event online. NAMB is planning a similar partnership with Harvest America in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
Pray for Planters initiative
With a desire to involve more churches in church planting, NAMB launched the “Pray for Planters” initiative. While every church may not feel ready to send a church planter, every church can pray. NAMB hopes to eventually see 10,000 SBC churches praying for church planters.
Ezell issues Gospel Conversation (GC) Challenge
With Southern Baptist baptism numbers continuing to slide, Kevin Ezell issued a “GC Challenge” aimed at seeing more pastors commit to urge church members to share their faith. The effort is a partnership between NAMB, LifeWay Christian Resources and the SBC Executive Committee. Church plants have been gaining ground in non-South states where 20 percent of the church population in several state conventions is made up of churches planted since 2010, Ezell said, noting that a “gospel conversation resurgence” nevertheless is needed in the SBC.
NAMB & EC announce young leader initiative
NAMB and the SBC Executive Committee launched a joint young leader initiative to better engage pastors between the ages of 25-45. Jonathan Akin joined NAMB as director of young leader engagement to help manage the joint effort as the SBC seeks to involve younger pastors and churches in participating in Southern Baptist life.
Trustees OK Send Relief hubs, meet planters in Calif. & Montreal
During a Feb. 7 board meeting in Ontario, Calif., trustees approved the establishment of Send Relief ministry hubs that will provide ministry and give Southern Baptists more opportunities for hands-on missions. A second meeting took place in Montreal as trustees met with planters who have been witnessing a great harvest in the city.
Church plant ‘class of 2016’ seeing victories
In 2016, NAMB saw 964 new churches join the SBC — 732 of which were church plants. Those churches are already reaching their communities, seeing people led to Christ and baptizing new believers into their congregations.