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IMB completes revitalization, questions group’s methods

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–International Mission Board trustees put the final touches on the recent revitalization and reorganization of overseas operations and passed a resolution warning Southern Baptists to be cautious of independent religious groups from overseas that are raising funds in the United States.
During their July 28-31 meeting at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center, trustees elected the final two of 14 regional leaders in the board’s new configuration overseas. They also affirmed the naming of the 53 associates who will assist regional leaders overseas and at board offices in Richmond, Va.
Elected regional leaders were Phil Templin for Middle America and Larry Gay for western South America.
Templin, 52, of Dayton, Wash., was appointed a missionary in 1984 with his wife, the former Peggy Voth of Enid, Okla. He has been a general evangelist in Mexico. Gay, 44, of Birmingham, Ala., was appointed a missionary in 1982 with his wife, the former Susan Tribble of Fairfield, Ala. He has been chairman of the organization of IMB missionaries in Mexico since 1991.
The revitalization and reorganization, which calls for vigorous strategy-driven work overseas, was proposed by IMB President Jerry Rankin in January to prompt growth and spiritual awakening worldwide. It expands the administration of the overseas office from nine geographic and one non-geographic area to 14 geographic regions covering the entire world outside of North America.
At the conclusion of the Glorieta meeting, trustee chairman Bill Blanchard of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., quoted Rankin’s initial goals and said, “I thank God that in the future our missionaries will be driven more by strategy and purpose than by policies and procedures.”
Rankin’s report to the board and a resolution the board adopted warned Southern Baptists about fund-raising efforts in Southern Baptist churches by independent groups claiming to do more effective missionary work than the IMB in countries where the IMB has missionaries.
Rankin said a number of overseas national groups are seeking Southern Baptist funds, are making unproven promises of missionary successes and are using practices the IMB questions missiologically.
Rankin’s comments zeroed in on India. When he was area director for southeastern Asia, he was constantly bombarded with requests for information about groups raising funds for work in India, he said. Once, when he raised questions about a group’s effectiveness or trustworthiness, he found himself under fire. Because of this, he subsequently has refrained from public comments about specific groups, he said.
The trustee resolution, however, names and expresses concern about a group that claims to work in India.
“Based on information available at this time, the trustees of the IMB do not have confidence in the ministry of the Gospel to the Unreached Millions, founded by K.A. Paul,” the resolution says.
Gospel to the Unreached Millions works in parts of India. That ministry is based in Houston, Texas.
The resolution notes that Paul spoke at the 1997 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Dallas prior to the annual SBC annual meeting there. The board’s concern focuses on the perception created of implied endorsement of Paul’s ministry.
The resolution further says, “The trustees of the IMB commend to Southern Baptist churches the mission program of the IMB as being faithful to the Biblical principles of missions and accountable to the churches (doctrinally and financially).”
It also says, “The trustees of the IMB reaffirm our commitment to the Seven Basic Principles that guide us to lead Southern Baptists to be on mission with God to bring all the peoples of the world to saving faith in Jesus Christ.”
One of those principles defines the board’s basic strategy as “send(ing) and support(ing) gifted, God-called missionaries who, with mutual respect, accountability and cooperation, carry out the Great Commission in an incarnational witness.”
Another related principle says, “Our basic task is evangelism through proclamation, discipling, equipping and ministry that results in indigenous Baptist churches.”
In other action, trustees approved a revision of the agency’s bylaws and policies reflecting its name change in June from Foreign Mission Board to International Mission Board.

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  • Louis Moore