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NAMB introduces new president

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–The North American Mission Board thanked the 8,600 messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting for the largest Annie Armstrong Easter Offering ever — $58.5 million — and its new president, Geoff Hammond.

“Words cannot express the gratitude we feel as missionaries, staff and trustees for your confidence and support,” said Bill Curtis, the two-year chairman of NAMB’s board of trustees and senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Florence, S.C., said in NAMB’s June 13 report to the SBC. “Your giving has allowed us to expand our involvement in planting churches, sharing Christ and sending missionaries.”

Introducing Hammond and his wife Debbie, Curtis said NAMB’s president search committee conducted a thorough 10-month search, resulting in the unanimous election of Hammond on March 21.

“This is one of the greatest privileges of my life,” Hammond said. “It’s a long way from a Southern Baptist missions hospital in Ogbomosho, Nigeria, to the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga. I’m here by God’s grace and I’m thankful to Southern Baptists for praying for me as a missionary’s kid, an IMB [International Mission Board] missionary and as a NAMB missionary.”

Hammond’s presentation to the convention then focused on the NAMB’s primary objectives: “We have drawn together all of our responsibilities under three main objectives: sharing Christ, starting churches and sending missionaries with our Acts 1:8 partners.”

The NAMB president turned to NAMB’s chaplaincy program –- which endorses more than 2,700 SBC chaplains for service in prisons, corporations, law enforcement, the health industry, disaster relief and the U.S. military.

“We are on the brink of an historic moment,” Hammond said. “For the first time since President Eisenhower and the Korean War, a Southern Baptist has been nominated to command the U.S. Army’s 5,000 chaplains. Brig. Gen. Douglas L. Carver has been nominated as the Army’s next Chief of Chaplains.”

Hammond then introduced a video highlighting the previous weekend’s Crossover 2007, an evangelistic effort preceding the SBC annual meeting. Crossover in San Antonio drew 6,913 people from throughout the area, touched 2,493 homes and recorded 960 decisions for Christ.

This year’s Crossover included prayerwalking, Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE), door-to-door witnessing, an international festival, block parties and servant evangelism. Hammond encouraged messengers to replicate Crossover activities in their own states.

Looking toward the year ahead, Hammond reported that, “With the encouragement of the president of our convention, NAMB and a team of evangelism leaders are working on a North American evangelism strategy that will provide direction for Southern Baptists as we seek to reach North America for Christ.

“It will be a flexible, multifaceted approach that brings local churches, associations and state conventions together with a plan that can be customized for each mission context. The team will continue its work with a view to making this an emphasis at next year’s convention.”

Hammond said starting new churches continues to be a vital part of NAMB’s strategy to evangelize the United States, Canada and the U.S. territories.

“We have church planting missionaries and church planting leaders strategically located for the express purpose of church planting. We need to plant churches in people groups, population segments and geographical areas where there is a need for Bible-believing, evangelistic churches.”

Hammond said NAMB studies show that when a new church is started with the intention of planting another church within the first three years, that original church grows faster.

“God blesses the church that gives and we need to see a great movement in North America of churches planting churches, planting churches planting churches…,” Hammond said.

After introducing their ministry via video, NAMB church planters William and Teresa Johnson from Manhattan, Mont., joined Hammond on stage.

In addition to sharing Christ and starting churches, sending missionaries is NAMB’s third key activity as the mission board works to spread the Gospel.

“NAMB assists in the sending of more than 5,100 missionaries and more than 300,000 volunteers who serve as short-term missionaries,” said Hammond, who asked the convention messengers to pray for all Southern Baptist missionaries serving in North America and around the world.

“These missionaries and their families experience the pain of separation from family and the pain of persecution. They’re actively sharing the love of Christ with people who not only don’t love them, but hate the missionaries for who they are and what they stand for,” Hammond said. He then shared the story of a North American Mission Board missionary whose ministry to Muslims has brought persecution and threats to himself and his family’s safety.

After showing a video depicting the quick response of NAMB, local churches and associations and state conventions to the tragic mass murder of 33 Virginia Tech students and staff back in April, Hammond introduced Mark and Leah Appleton, NAMB Missions Service Corps missionaries serving on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.

The evening also included recognitions of state conventions and local associations with whom NAMB works closely in starting churches and sending missionaries throughout North America. Roy Fish, evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was recognized and introduced in his new role as NAMB’s “ambassador-at-large.”

Hammond ended the evening by thanking Southern Baptists for their generous support of the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

“We pray that the Lord will shower the North American Mission Board with His favor and our entire convention as we assist Southern Baptist in their task of fulfilling the Great Commission,” Hammond said.

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  • Mickey Noah