PLANO, Texas (BP) — More than 35 percent of the registrants at the 2013 Send North America Conference signed up for one of five ethnic ministry tracks.
The final tally of registrants included 1,526 participants for the ethnic tracks, which included Hispanic Leadership and Mission, Black Church Discipleship and Development, Reaching People from a Muslim Background, Korean Leadership and Development and Leadership Development for Kingdom Development in Chinese Churches. Registrants from other ethnic groups in North America also were included in the total.
The 2013 Send North America Conference drew more than 4,200 church planters, pastors and church leaders to the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano July 29-30.
“We are thankful for what God is doing in the multiethnic community in North America and their willingness to participate in the Send North America strategy as evidenced in the participation of more than 1,500 multiethnic leaders,” said Mark Hobafcovich, NAMB’s team leader for multiethnic church mobilization.
“This is a great indicator that the participation of the multiethnic community is beginning to match the reality of the mission field in North America, which is increasingly more multiethnic,” Hobafcovich said.
Just hours after the last conference session ended, stories of how God used the ethnic tracks to mobilize churches and church leaders to penetrate lostness in North America began to come in.
One story came from Eunice Park, a Korean woman who attended Reaching People from a Muslim Background. Park has been serving in children’s ministry at her church but now senses a growing call to serve in a new ministry endeavor.
“I feel even more now after being convicted through this conference that God does want the Church to be built,” she wrote in an email to the track leader, Aslam Masih. “I am so convicted in my spirit and I praise God for that work in me…. I thank you so much for the help and thank you so much for putting all the meetings and workshops together…. They have been a blessing to me and from tonight on, I dream about churches being built.”
The overall conference focused on the areas of Gospel, mission and ministry. All attendees participated in main sessions centered on the Gospel, which united everyone regardless of their ministry context. Breakout sessions focused on applying the Gospel through the church leader’s ministry role and context. Workshops were designed to strengthen ministry skills.
“The conference was done in a way that black leaders were an integral part of the whole, yet there were unique cultural pieces that we were able to speak to,” said James Jenkins, a church planting catalyst with the Louisiana Baptist Convention and one of the presenters for the Black Church Discipleship and Development track.
“There is nothing cultural about the Gospel. The same Gospel that saves a white person and a Hispanic person saves a black person. But there are important cultural considerations to when and how the Gospel is communicated,” Jenkins said.
Each of the ethnic tracks centered, in one manner or another, on helping churches discover, develop and deploy leaders into the North American mission field. Hispanic church leaders represented the largest number of ethnic track participants with 819 in attendance.
“We had a great experience the last couple of days because we saw a big picture of Southern Baptist work in the United States [and Canada],” said Victor Pulido, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Del Sur El Calvario in Turlock, Calif. “We were encouraged. We have in our heart more support. We know we are not alone.”
David Gill, pastor of Concord Korean Baptist Church in San Francisco, said the breakout sessions reminded him that often Koreans and other non-Anglo ethnic groups have unique opportunities to reach new immigrants. He also was challenged by Jason Kim, NAMB’s Korean church mobilizer, to get his church more involved in church planting.
“Jason Kim challenged us to really become a missional church,” said Gill, who previously served as president of the Southern Baptist Korean Fellowship. “Any church, large or small, can become a missional church. He told us we should really plant churches — not far away but nearby churches. That’s challenging for local church pastors.”
Gill expressed appreciation to NAMB for including Korean language translation for the main sessions and a track designed for their ministry needs.
“I was so amazed at the large group of participants,” Gill said. “I was impressed that there were so many Southern Baptists interested in church planting and missions. As a local church pastor, we always look at and minister to our people. We think about missions, but when we get together like this we know we’re not alone. We’re a part of a bigger body. I’m also glad we had a big group of Koreans here and have the separate sessions in Korean and other languages.”
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Visit namb.net for more coverage and photos from the 2013 Send North America Conference. For a short highlight video, visit namb.net/video/send2013-highlights/. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).