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NAMB calls for ‘rescuing’ individuals ‘lost at sea’; intros 2 new TV spots

NAMB calls for ‘rescuing’ individuals ‘lost at sea’; intros 2 new TV spots
By James Dotson

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–North American Mission Board President Robert E. Reccord called on Southern Baptists June 13 to go on a “rescue mission” to save millions of people in the United States and Canada who are “lost at sea” without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Also during the agency’s report and presentation during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, Reccord announced the availability of two new television commercials to be available free of charge to churches which contact the agency by June 30.

NAMB’s rescue-themed presentation highlighted the stories of several individuals and families who are “on mission” to share Christ with those around them, challenging others to join them personally and through the work of the missions agency.

“Frankly, my friends, North America desperately needs more heroes — common people with an uncommon commitment to the highest of all calls: the Great Commission of Jesus Christ,” Reccord said.

The presentation opened with a song by recording artist Wintley Phipps titled, “Four Chaplains on the Sea of Glory.” It described how four chaplains on a battleship during World War II sacrificed their lives to help fellow crewmen when their ship was hit and there were not enough life jackets to go around.

“Today, North America is awash with people who are lost at sea, grasping for spiritual life,” Reccord said. “They’ve grabbed at pleasure. They’ve grabbed at possessions. They’ve grabbed at prestige. They’ve grabbed at empty spirituality. And now they’re going under for the third time.”

Through videotaped segments and a live interview, Reccord told the stories of three “on-mission heroes” seeking to rescue those around them.

A segment on Thomas and Kerrie Hammond of Suwanee, Ga., demonstrated how a family can work together to introduce neighbors to faith in Christ. In another video, church planter Mark Clifton demonstrated the importance of being willing to start new churches to reach individuals with the gospel. Clifton started Renaissance Church in French-speaking Montreal, Quebec, in Canada — a young congregation meeting in rented facilities that is already working to start six new churches.

Reccord also introduced Sue Low, a Mission Service Corps volunteer in Dallas, who leads Bible studies and shares Christ with men in correctional institutions. Throughout her ministry, she said during a live interview with Reccord, she has led more than 1,600 individuals to faith in Christ.

“Jesus said to his disciples, look on the fields, they are white already unto harvest,” Low said. “Now he wasn’t talking about corn or cotton or grains. He was talking about lost souls. And we need to go out into the field. We need to go out now — not tomorrow — and win the lost.”

Reccord noted that with most on-mission heroes, there is usually a common foundation — a base of support that helped them develop the passion for reaching others.

“Bottom line, they come to us from on-mission churches, churches that know Christ, and go out and make him known right in their own communities,” Reccord said.

The two new television commercials announced by Reccord are part of a series designed to strengthen the awareness of Southern Baptists in the culture under the theme, “Southern Baptists: Changed Lives, Caring People.” The first spots in the series were introduced during last year’s SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The spots are being made available free of charge to churches in several formats through June 30. Those attending the meeting filled out response cards requesting the videos. Information for other interested churches is available by visiting the www.namb.net/ads website or calling 1-800-519-9271.

The first commercial features a woman who was led to Christ by a friend during a difficult and stressful period, and found the hope that she had been seeking.

“It’s not always easy, but my life has been different ever since,” she said.

A second spot introduces a Vietnam War veteran who had lost his family as a result of difficult circumstances coupled with alcoholism. He also was introduced to Christ by a Southern Baptist and now has a ministry to men in jail.

Both spots were based on true stories, Reccord recounted.

Reccord also detailed in his report other aspects of how the agency is fulfilling its “two overarching roles” of “communicating the greatest message ever given, and equipping and mobilizing churches and Christians for the greatest mission ever undertaken.”

Among the highlights:

— Since its birth in 1997 the agency has put $30 million more into “frontline” ministry efforts than would have been available under the three former agencies it replaced. The employee count has gone from 525 to 410 — all while introducing new ministry initiatives such as the Strategic Focus Cities evangelism and church planting efforts, student evangelism, Internet evangelism, and impacting the nation of Canada with the gospel.

— In cooperation with state and local partners, NAMB helped start 1,747 new churches in 1999 and 1,658 in 2000. Fifty-five percent of those were African American or language churches.

— More than 3,000 churches are using “The NET,” an innovative personal evangelism strategy introduced last year “designed with the postmodern culture in mind,” Reccord said.

— About 2,400 campuses across the country with NAMB’s help now have student-led Christian clubs using FISH, a church-based strategy to help students systematically lead friends to Christ. About 4,000 students each month are being led to Christ through the strategy, which was launched last fall. “The goal is to be on 5,000 campuses by the end of the year,” Reccord said.

— Strategic Focus Cities efforts that began last year in Chicago and Phoenix continue to show strong results. Attendance at participating churches in Phoenix is up 21 percent as a result of the efforts, and baptisms by profession of faith are up 47 percent. In Chicago over the past two years, Reccord said, there has been a 114 percent increase in baptisms and an 87 percent increase in Sunday school attendance. About 100 new churches are being planted.

— Of NAMB’s 5,081 missionaries, the number of appointed missionaries — who receive all of their funding from NAMB and its mission partners — is up 43 percent since 1997. The number of students serving as semester missionaries is up 65 percent.

“We’ve got so many college students saying ‘I want to go’ that we don’t have the funds to send them,” Reccord said, noting that applications for career missions service also continue to rise steadily.

“We thank you, Southern Baptists, for your record-breaking support to the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for [North American Missions], which makes everything we do possible,” Reccord said.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson