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RAs win contest, become NAMB employees for day

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–“I like RAs because I love God, I love church, and I love to praise God,” wrote Jordan Rogers, a Royal Ambassador from Calvary Baptist Church in Dayton, Texas. “I also like RAs because you can help your community, the world and yourself; you can learn more about God and share the Word with your friends and family.”
Rogers was one of four grand prizewinners of the “Big Big Contest” to help celebrate the 90th anniversary of Royal Ambassadors. More than 1,000 boys from across the country entered the essay contest, completing the sentence “I like RAs because …”
Nathan Eleazer, an RA from Clairmont Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, wrote, “I like RAs because I learn Bible verses and the different ways missionaries tell about Jesus. RAs helps me become the person God wants me to be.”
Three Crusaders (grades four through six) and one Lad (grades one through three) were chosen as grand prizewinners. In addition to Rogers and Eleazer, Scotty Harris from Cana Baptist Church, Alvarado, Texas, and Daryl Griffin from Nansemond River Baptist Church, Suffolk, Va., rounded out the top four winners.
Each received an RA commemorative knife, as well as an opportunity to help shape RA materials during a July 13-14 visit to NAMB offices in Alpharetta, Ga. Eleazer served as children’s mission education strategist, while Rogers, Harris and Griffin served as editors for the two RA magazines, Lad and Crusader, and the children’s mission education Internet web site.
“I’ve been involved in missions my whole life,”Harris said. “My parents have helped plant a church in northeast Texas. My RA chapter established a food closet for the hungry, and we’re raising money for flagpoles for the front of our church.”
While at NAMB, the RAs and their parents met with agency President Bob Reccord. “We’re here trying to do what you guys are doing — be on mission,” Reccord told the boys.
He thanked the parents “for investing in your kids.”
“The North American Mission Board is tenaciously committed to not losing the battle for our kids in this country,” Reccord said. “Thank you, parents and leaders, for being committed as well.”
The boys also held a strategy meeting to improve the RA materials. “We truly value their input,” said Mary Branson, children’s mission education strategist. “They represented thousands of RAs nationwide. It was exciting to see how much they cared about the RA program.”
“I really do like RAs,” said Harris. “But I’d like to see the books help us learn more about Christ and read our Bibles more.”
“I think the theme of the materials should be more kids doing missions and not just adults,” said Eleazer. “We want to see kids our age doing what we’re doing.”
Rogers had ideas to make RAs more exciting. “It’s great that we have a web site, but it’s got to make kids want to come back and use it,” he said. He also suggested an RA chat room and wider distribution of the web site address.
“I’d like to see more activities,” said Griffin. “I like what we do, I just want to do more.”
“They took their jobs seriously and really critiqued our materials,” Branson added. “We intend to carefully consider each suggestion, and we already have plans to incorporate several of their ideas.”
The Royal Ambassadors program actually started with Woman’s Missionary Union in 1908 and was led by that organization until it became the responsibility of the former Brotherhood Commission in 1957. As of 1997, the comprehensive range of RA materials are being developed and produced by NAMB, although strong leadership networks in many states and local associations also support local churches in planning and coordinating activities.
Even with all the changes taking place on the national level, the ministry remains Southern Baptists’ most effective tool for teaching boys about the importance of reaching a lost world for Christ — and giving them the leadership training, confidence through individual achievement, and practical skills to carry out that mission.
“I got saved because of RAs,” Griffin said.
“What I love best about RAs is that I learn how to be a Christian,” Harris added.

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  • Lynne Jones