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Draper to DOMs: ‘Turn the crisis of these days into opportunity’

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Every person in the world can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ if Southern Baptists will employ the strategy used by the apostle Paul at Ephesus, the president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention told more than 400 attendees of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions June 10.

Drawing from Acts 19:8-10, James T. Draper Jr. challenged the DOMs to consider Paul’s strategy as he shared the gospel to a culture — like America — awash in moral relativism and religious pluralism.

“We live in a world of constant changes,” Draper said. “We are trying to minister in the midst of a world where 74 percent of Americans — including 44 percent of Christians — do not believe in absolute truth. Two-thirds of Americans believe Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews pray to the same deity.

“We are not the first Christians to minister in such an age,” Draper said as he zeroed in on the Acts 19 passage, outlining Paul’s approach:

— First, Paul went to the synagogue, a place where he knew he could expect a response, Draper said.

“That’s why we keep going back to places like Brazil and Kenya,” Draper said, adding that ethnic and African American churches are the fastest growing in the SBC. “We need to pour more resources into these places.”

— Second, he said, Southern Baptists must be as persistent as Paul.

“Southern Baptists have always been bold,” Draper said. “The gospel is not being clearly [proclaimed] in America today. The sinner can hear anything on TV.”

He listed a litany of evangelistic programs that Southern Baptists implemented in the 20th century, stating that any could have worked if the convention had been as persistent as Paul.

“We have a motive, not method,” Draper said. “We need to adopt a method and do it and do it and do it until everyone in America has heard the gospel. When they harden, let’s change our strategy. Let’s be creative and act decisively.”

Noting the founding of Jamestown in 1608, Draper asked, “Why has it taken us 300 years to do less than the church did in two years? From your unique perspective I urge you to turn the crisis of these days into an opportunity by using the strategy Paul used.”

More than 450 attended a June 10 worship service to hear Roy Fish, distinguished professor of evangelism from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Preaching from Jeremiah 15:16 and 20:8, Fish reassured the DOMs that spiritual passion can be restored by studying God’s Word, by their daily walk with Jesus and through their witness.

“Jeremiah was writing his resignation,” Fish said. “He was going to be a ministerial dropout,” but Jeremiah said God’s Word was like an overwhelming fire, “so that he couldn’t help but speak it.” Without that renewed experience with the Word of God, Jeremiah would have never known the joy he came to know, Fish said, asking the DOMs, “Have you found it to be a joy to your soul?

“There is always the danger of ministerial dropout if we do not stay in the Word,” Fish said. “Jeremiah was a man with lost passion, but [like the prophet] if you taste the Word again, there will be restoration of passion in your life.”

Several issues were addressed in the organization’s business sessions:

— Circulation of the newsletter, Viewpoint, declined to 1,081 copies in the spring 2001 issue compared to 1,202 mailed for the same period in 2000.

— A motion was made by administrator/treasurer Charles Nunn that the organization “amend the bylaws and the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions if necessary, to satisfy the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in terms of our application for 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit status.” The motion passed unanimously.

Nunn reported that the organization’s 501(c)3 application is nearly complete and that the Virginia Baptist Foundation is providing an attorney — at no charge — to complete the application.

By becoming a 501(c)3 organization, it will “decrease the cost of our annual meeting by allowing us to not pay sales tax on our hotel expense during our annual meetings,” Nunn said. “It will also provide tax deduction for those persons who want to make a contribution to our memorial endowment fund.”

— The organization approved a $29,250 proposed budget for Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2002, down slightly from the $29,700 2001 budget. The budget projects $21,750 in expenses compared to the $23,750 a year ago.

— The organization installed its new officers for 2001, each to serve for one year: Gary L. Hearon of the Dallas Baptist Association, president; Don W. Reed, Kansas City Kansas Baptist Association, Overland Park, Kan., first vice president; Jim Freedman, Nashville Baptist Association, Nashville, Tenn., second vice president.

— A record 43 DOMs are enrolled in continuing education in 2001. And approximately 30 new DOMs were welcomed to the organization for the first time.

— Nunn announced that the organization is working closely with the SBC Executive Committee to secure hotel accommodations for next year’s SBCADOM meeting in St. Louis. Benny J. King, St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, Joplin, Mo., will be the host director.

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  • Don Hinkle