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Mission board holds spiritual focus day

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–A time to renew and refocus at the start of the New Year brought 250 North American Mission Board staff members together for a Spiritual Focus Day at First Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga.

In addition to messages from NAMB President Geoff Hammond, pastors, missionaries and board leaders, staff-led workshops were offered on such topics as cross-cultural evangelism, leadership, passing on spiritual disciplines to future generations and customer service.

Michael Lewis, pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, underscoring NAMB’s calling to help fulfill the Great Commission, said, “I am grateful that Southern Baptists would give us a day to think about that call.”

“This new year is a new beginning, a new opportunity for you to experience God’s powerful, personal and peaceful presence in your lives,” Lewis said in a message from Isaiah 43 at the Jan. 8 gathering.

“This was a good way to start the year,” said Nellie Moore, projects service coordinator on NAMB’s vendor services team. “It was a good way to get everyone refocused and ready for the task we have ahead of us.”

The task ahead for 2009 includes preparing for the official launch of the National Evangelism Initiative, God’s Plan for Sharing, in 2010, Hammond said, noting, “We want to be in tune to what God wants us to do.”

Hammond also highlighted the past year’s increases in missionary sending and in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief responses encompassing fires on the West Coast, floods in the Midwest and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike on the Gulf Coast.

Church planter missionary Chad Moore, taking a day from his ministry in Ohio, urged NAMB staff to “wake up every day with the urgency that comes from knowing your calling. I know that my work is to reach the leaders of tomorrow — those who will lead the Fortune 500 companies and who will lead this North American Mission Board and this Southern Baptist Convention.”

Moore (no relation to Nellie Moore) also noted how NAMB has played a role in his outreach as a church planter in Oxford, Ohio, where the 16,000-student Miami University is located.

“I knew God was leading me somewhere and you guys helped steer me in the right direction,” Moore said.

Grace McGraw, a literacy missionary in Birmingham, Ala., told of the training provided by NAMB that has helped her reach high school students in the inner city. McGraw had been a schoolteacher for nearly 30 years before retiring and becoming a missionary.

“I didn’t think I needed someone to teach me how to teach,” McGraw said. “Boy, did I need it.”

Describing opportunities in the mission field of local schools, McGraw said, “Public schools are not closed to us. Not one public school has turned me down when I’ve offered to put Christian tutors in their schools. They will say we need them. I think Satan has just spread the rumor around that we can’t work with children in schools. It’s just not true.”

Closing in a time of prayer for North American missionaries, Bill Barker noted the difficulties of work in his region of Appalachia and the difficulties of missionary work anywhere.

“Missionaries have families, family issues, personal difficulties,” Baker reflected. “Missionaries are real people who face real challenges and real attacks from the enemy.”
Reported by the North American Mission Board’s communications office.

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