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SBC DIGEST: Melson elected SBU president; ‘Free Burma Rangers’ coming back to theaters

Melson elected president of Southwest Baptist University

By Pathway Staff

BOLIVAR, Mo. (BP) – Southwest Baptist University’s board of trustees has unanimously elected Richard J. Melson as the school’s 26th president, effective Sept. 7.

“Dr. Melson is a conservative evangelical Christian leader with experience in Christian higher education, pastoral ministry and executive leadership,” said Eddie Bumpers, chair of the SBU trustee board. “He is deeply committed to providing a Christ-centered education and wholeheartedly aligns with SBU’s mission, vision, values, and statement of faith. He is poised to bring innovation and creativity for positioning SBU to thrive during a challenging time for higher education, particularly Christian higher education.”

Melson was introduced to SBU faculty, staff, students and guests during an announcement event on the Bolivar campus today (Aug. 20) after a Thursday (Aug. 19) meeting in which the unanimous vote of the board affirmed the unanimous vote of the presidential search committee.

“We are eager to meet each of you, to hear your story, and learn what God is doing in your life,” Melson said. “It is our desire to lead SBU into the future with a shared vision, unite the SBU family, and shepherd, love, and serve you. Let us rise to the challenges before us, take hold of the opportunities that await us and partner together to lead SBU to its greatest days ahead.”

Melson has served as vice president of advancement and associate professor of business administration at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, since 2016. He served as vice president of advancement and external relations at Houghton College and president and CEO of the Willard J. Houghton Foundation from 2012-2016. At both schools, he led teams through major fundraising campaigns with record-breaking results.

He has served in senior leadership positions in business, health care, higher education and ministry, including serving on the pastoral staff with John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., and at the Resurgence and Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He served previously as director of admissions and student recruitment with President R. Albert Mohler Jr. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Melson has a doctarate in leadership studies from Dallas Baptist University. He holds a master’s degree from Southern Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Murray State University. He also has completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in educational management and advancement leadership.

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‘Free Burma Rangers’ documentary returns to movie theaters nationwide Sept. 13

By Lifeway Staff

NASHVILLE (BP) – Lifeway Films, Deidox Films and Fathom Events have announced an encore presentation of the award-winning film “Free Burma Rangers” in theaters Sept. 13. The encore presentation features an exclusive update from the Eubank family.

The documentary film won Best Feature Film at the The Justice Film Festival in 2019, while the subject of the film, the Free Burma Rangers group, received the 2020 Foley Humanitarian Award for their work with oppressed ethnic minority groups.

“The outpouring of support since the film was released has been encouraging to our team and we are grateful,” said David Eubank, founder of the Free Burma Rangers.

The documentary follows the Eubank family, their work and the more than 1.5 million displaced individuals the Free Burma Rangers have assisted around the world. The film will show in select theaters across the U.S. as a one-night-only Fathom Event.

Directed by Brent Gudgel and Chris Sinclair, the film explores the extraordinary 20-year journey of David, Karen, and their three young children as they venture into war zones bringing much-needed food, supplies, medical aid and hope to civilians caught in the middle of the conflict.

In 1993, after 10 years in the U.S. Army Special Forces, David Eubank answered a call from his father, serving on the mission field in Thailand, to help the people caught in the middle of a civil war.

“You have one life; you might as well go for it,” Eubank says in the film.

Newlyweds David and Karen skipped the traditional honeymoon and went to Burma to help free the oppressed and rescue victims there.

As they went on relief missions into the height of conflict, more locals joined in. Eventually, indigenous leaders asked Eubank to train teams. Using his military experience, Eubank began training groups to go on rescue missions to help those in need, as well as provide medical clinics and children’s programs for survivors. In 1997, the Eubanks founded the Free Burma Rangers, a multi-ethnic relief organization.

More than two decades later, the Eubank family continues to provide humanitarian aid to some of the most difficult areas in the world. In 2016, the Eubanks and a few of the Free Burma Rangers moved to northern Iraq to help deliver food and aid to people caught in the middle of the conflict with ISIS. In 2019 they served in Northern Syria.

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