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Priority of evangelism underscored at NAMB trustees meeting

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Trustees of the North American Mission Board celebrated the appointment of 117 new missionaries and endorsement of 44 new chaplains, re-elected trustee officers and heard evangelistic challenges from two of the board’s top executives.

Chuck Allen, NAMB’s chief operating officer, assessed the state of the church and the denomination while Randy Singer, chief counsel and special assistant to NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, addressed the state of the culture in North America.

Reccord is recovering from throat surgery and was unable to attend the May 4 meeting. Last week, doctors removed a benign cyst from one of his vocal chords, and he is on complete voice rest for several more days.

“NAMB’s primary task is to lead people and churches to lead people to Jesus,” Allen said. “We exist to help Southern Baptists share Christ, start churches, volunteer in missions, send missionaries, impact our culture and equip our leaders.”

Allen described the church in North America as being in a “desperate condition,” and Southern Baptists as being “evangelistically sick when it takes 43 Southern Baptists to win one person to Jesus, and two-thirds of our churches report less than six baptisms a year.”

“It is not enough to send missionaries so they can simply fulfill their calling to serve. Rather, they must fulfill the Great Commission by reaching people with the Gospel,” he added.

Allen said his personal commitment to evangelism has been emboldened in recent years as his wife, Jeanine, has battled cancer.

“My sweet bride won’t let our family and friends go to chemotherapy with her, because she says she would have to talk to us rather than share Christ with the staff and other patients,” Allen recounted. “And I know of at least eight women who have given their lives to Jesus because of her witness while sitting in a chemotherapy chair. That’s the kind of commitment all of us need to make to sharing Christ with people.”

Singer said the ongoing attacks by activist judges on the sanctity of human life and on marriage will only be effectively countered by sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

“If we want to change our culture, we aren’t going to do it through politics. We aren’t going to do it through judicial appointments. We aren’t going to do it through activism – as important as those things are. We will do it through evangelism,” Singer said. “We are in a cultural war, but it’s a war for the hearts and souls of men, not for the seats of political power.”

Singer suggested the church, in large part, is responsible for the increasingly regular misinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution by judges.

“These judges don’t claim to be atheists or agnostics,” Singer said. “Most of these justices grew up in either mainline denominations or liberal evangelical churches where the pastors of those churches engaged in a loose and figurative interpretation of Holy Scripture.”

In an age of tolerance and relativism, Singer said he is “proud to be a part of a denomination that is committed to God’s Word.”

“When you live in a mission field that is adrift in relativism, you have to send a mission force that is anchored in Scripture,” he said. “In a mission field that believes in tolerance, we must send a mission force that is committed to evangelism.”

In other business, trustees re-elected officers by acclamation to serve a second term: chairman, Barry Holcomb, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Andalusia, Ala.; first vice chairman, Bill Curtis, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Florence, S.C.; second vice chairman, Larry Thomas, director of missions, Little Red River Baptist Association, Heber Springs, Ark.

Trustees also recognized three outgoing board members for their service from June 1997 through June 2005. They were the last trustees on the board who were serving when NAMB was created from three former SBC mission agencies. They are Donna Farr, a member of Olivet Baptist Church, Honolulu, Hawaii; William Fields, a member of Crusade Baptist Church, Conyngham, Pa.; and Mike Gray, pastor of Southeast Baptist Church in Salt Lake City.

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  • Lee Weeks