DES MOINES, Iowa (BP)–There are good people who seem to have the impression that state conventions, especially small ones such as the Baptist Convention of Iowa, are seeking to assure their own future even to the point of placing the fulfillment of the Great Commission at risk.
The fact is that we are diligently seeking a continued opportunity to collaborate with the North American Mission Board in seeking the fulfillment the Great Commission. We want to work with the entire Southern Baptist Convention family, but it is our partnership with the North American Mission Board that seems to be most in peril.
Before writing us off, releasing NAMB from its cooperative agreement with us, please prayerfully consider the following offers.
We offer to continue to help lift and carry “Buckets of Hope.” All across Iowa individual believers and churches have been filling food buckets destined for Haiti. Appointed NAMB missionaries are coordinating the Iowa effort, but all of us are helping to collect and transport those buckets. Why? We are doing it because we want to partner with NAMB in this Great Commission ministry. After Haiti, there will be other “buckets of hope” needed. Give us a chance and we will be there working in partnership with NAMB missionaries.
We offer to continue to provide a loving home for NAMB missionaries in Iowa. We do not think of them as ours in a proprietary sense. They belong to the Father and not to our convention. Our convention partners with NAMB in the selection, assignment and evaluation of the work of these missionaries, but our most vital role is to provide a home for them. Some do not seem to understand that we help pay their salaries. We pay 100 percent of their annuity costs. We provide workers compensation insurance. We also provide their risk and liability insurance.
Additionally, we provide them with office space, equipment, supplies, accounting services and secretarial services. We also help pay their travel and ministry expenses. Come to think of it, our lives would be simplified and made easier if a new level of bureaucracy were created to take all of that off the back of our small convention, but we do not want to lose the joy working with the missionaries in obedience to the Great Commission.
We offer to continue to partner with NAMB in ministry to appointed missionaries. When they die, we stand at their graveside. When grief hits, we show up. When sickness comes to them, we visit them and take food to them. They receive welcome calls and cards from other places, but we are the ones who show up. We want to continue to do that because that too improves our ability to fulfill the Great Commission.
We offer to continue to advocate for NAMB-appointed missionaries. They are sometimes unfairly compared to international missionaries. For example, international baptisms are sometimes reported in a manner that seems to directly correlate them to the international missionaries. NAMB missionaries, on the other hand, correlate baptisms directly to local churches. Out of love for the Great Commission, we affirm that it is to the local church and not to the missionaries that baptism reports must be consistently and directly linked. We want to continue to advocate for, and even help explain, the work the North American missionaries do.
We make yet another offer. Even if the SBC creates a new level of bureaucracy, a level that might disenfranchise the Baptist Convention Iowa and others like us, we offer to explore new ways to address the needs of the people and churches we are called of God to serve. And we also offer to continue to diligently seek new ways to collaborate with God’s North American missionaries in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We are like a stray dog that has finally found a home. Come what may, we are not planning to leave our family.
Jimmy Barrentine is the executive director/treasurer of the Baptist Convention of Iowa located in Des Moines, Iowa.